How are books by David Glantz

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RichTO90
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Dec 2009 15:53

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi rich T,
Sid, it's "Rich", "richto90", "RichTO90", or "Rich Anderson" please. "rich T" is nobody that I know? :D
"Red Storm Rising" is a book of fiction by Tom Clancy. I don't think even Glantz's most trenchant opponents would hold him responsible for any errors in that!

Which Glantz book did Chris Lawrence actually go through?
That was in the back of my mind when I posted, but it was early... :lol: Now, after being smart enough to actually look at his titles, it was When Titans Clashed.
Glantz's books are extremely "fact heavy" and this necessarily leaves a lot of hostages to fortune. However, I would rather have him getting 1% of a large number of facts wrong than just waffle vaguely. He breaks so much new ground for us English speakers that to make too much of his occasional errors seems like nit-picking.

And how substantial are these errors? As you say, "Panthers with 88s" is pretty innocuous.
If you like go to the TDI website and you can review Chris' criticism yourself. He posted an extensive list of the mistakes he found there. As a bonus, it's in English this time (although Chris is known to torture the language at times :P ).
I agree that Glantz seems to be taking more notice of German sources. But his strength has always been his access to Soviet sources.
That was problematic early on as well, since what he utilized so extensively was not Soviet archival sources, but rather Soviet military journal articles that he translated and analyzed as part of his job at CSI, CLW, and FMSO. AFAIK his access to Soviet archival sources related to Kursk was via the KDB and I'm not sure how extensive his personal access to the Podolsk Archives has been since then (that access has been on and off limited to Russian nationals)?

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Qvist
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Qvist » 29 Dec 2009 16:24

Wasn't it Glantz/House's Kursk book Chris critiqued at TDI?

cheers

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Kunikov
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Kunikov » 29 Dec 2009 16:33

RichTO90 wrote:
Sid Guttridge wrote:1) Anyone can level "devastating criticism". The question is whether it is justified.
I agree that "devastating" may be an amorphous adjective in this case. However, I do know that Chris Lawrence went through Red Storm Rising (I think that was it...covering Stalingrad to Kursk?) and found an average of about one major factual error per page. Ranging from the innocuous "Panthers with 88s" to mistakes on dates, events, and persons. Most of them stemming from his continuing reliance on Soviet military journals and histories as source material for German data, rather than using German archival data. Of course, that is no worse than the too common habit of writers using German sources for Soviet events... :lol:

BTW, I get the sense that in recent years Glantz has been modifying his sle reliance on Soviet sources ad has been interjecting a much more balanced use of sources in his work...but that's just my impression.
You are correct in that Glantz has been modifying what he relies on. I am almost done with his newest volume on Stalingrad, which he coauthored with House, and there is a large reliance on German divisional, corps, army, and army group histories/orders/reports which he juxtaposes with Soviet sources of the same caliber. It takes what Jason Mark did with "Island of Fire" to a new level and makes for fascinating reading. There were still a few errors that I caught, but they were minor spelling/grammar, and, in one instance when analyzing German formations, he mistakes battalions rated as “average” and “weak” as representative of those rated “weak” and “exhausted” giving a worse impression of the 6th Army's units than was the reality. But there is the actual table showing the correct numbers on the same page, so it is not THAT bad.
"Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest violence." Jewish proverb
"This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad

RichTO90
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Dec 2009 16:42

Qvist wrote:Wasn't it Glantz/House's Kursk book Chris critiqued at TDI?

cheers
Aaack! Now I'm not sure? Maybe it was Red Storm Rising after all? :lol: It was quite a few years ago after all and my memory is starting to fail me I think... :(

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Dec 2009 17:24

Hi "Rich", "richto90", "RichTO90", or "Rich Anderson",

Sorry to get your tag wrong.

TDI?

Cheers,

Sid

RichTO90
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Dec 2009 18:51

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi "Rich", "richto90", "RichTO90", or "Rich Anderson",

Sorry to get your tag wrong.

TDI?

Cheers,

Sid
Er, The Dupuy Institute? Which I was formerly affiliated with. I haven't been able to track down the thread for Chris' initial criticism, but there is:

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00035.html
http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00032.html
http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00030.html

Nevermind, I found it:

http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00025.html

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Dec 2009 19:50

Hi Rich and Aurora,

From my count, it appears that Chris Lawrence has 26 "disagreements" with the first 16 pages of Glantz's work. He does not survey the whole book.

Not a single “disagreement” relates to the Red Army. Given that Glantz is a Soviet specialist, this leaves the core of his reputation completely unscathed.

All Lawrence's "disagreements" seem to relate to the German armed forces. Of these, a considerable number are not of a very substantive nature (such as whether a conference lasted one or two days). Others merely question the source of information without actually disagreeing with it. Still others are more comments than disagreements – i.e. “This is a very odd statement.” Where Lawrence disagrees and offers hard alternatives he never seems to give his own alternative source, which in turn affects the authority of his contradictions of Glantz.

What is more, Lawrence himself takes quite a lot of flak from other posters on the thread.

I think that Lawrence has a few useful corrective points, but, perhaps in seeking to display his own expertise, he has contrived an artificially large number of “disagreements” with Glantz. Many of these “disagreements” seem to be essentially nit-picking and one can pick this up in his own turn of phrase – “I question whether…..”, or “This is a minor point of semantics, but…..”, or “This is kind of an issue of interpretation,…..”.

With regard to your own quotation marks around Glantz making mistakes such as "Panthers with 88s". I have searched all Lawrence’s text and can’t find any such quotation. Can you point us to it?

There seems to be nothing “devastating” in Lawrence’s criticism of Glantz at all.

Cheers,

Sid.

RichTO90
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Dec 2009 20:48

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Rich and Aurora,

From my count, it appears that Chris Lawrence has 26 "disagreements" with the first 16 pages of Glantz's work. He does not survey the whole book.

Not a single “disagreement” relates to the Red Army. Given that Glantz is a Soviet specialist, this leaves the core of his reputation completely unscathed.

All Lawrence's "disagreements" seem to relate to the German armed forces. Of these, a considerable number are not of a very substantive nature (such as whether a conference lasted one or two days). Others merely question the source of information without actually disagreeing with it. Still others are more comments than disagreements – i.e. “This is a very odd statement.” Where Lawrence disagrees and offers hard alternatives he never seems to give his own alternative source, which in turn affects the authority of his contradictions of Glantz.

What is more, Lawrence himself takes quite a lot of flak from other posters on the thread.

I think that Lawrence has a few useful corrective points, but, perhaps in seeking to display his own expertise, he has contrived an artificially large number of “disagreements” with Glantz. Many of these “disagreements” seem to be essentially nit-picking and one can pick this up in his own turn of phrase – “I question whether…..”, or “This is a minor point of semantics, but…..”, or “This is kind of an issue of interpretation,…..”.

With regard to your own quotation marks around Glantz making mistakes such as "Panthers with 88s". I have searched all Lawrence’s text and can’t find any such quotation. Can you point us to it?

There seems to be nothing “devastating” in Lawrence’s criticism of Glantz at all.

Cheers,

Sid.
Sid, you seem a little confused about what I said?

"I agree that "devastating" may be an amorphous adjective in this case. However, I do know that Chris Lawrence went through Red Storm Rising (I think that was it...covering Stalingrad to Kursk?) and found an average of about one major factual error per page. Ranging from the innocuous "Panthers with 88s" to mistakes on dates, events, and persons. Most of them stemming from his continuing reliance on Soviet military journals and histories as source material for German data, rather than using German archival data."

I never said that the criticism was "devastating", quite the contrary? OTOH, I should not have said "major factual error", but I think 26 errors or potential errors in 16 pages is excessive? But I do think that errors of dates, errors regarding the length of time event occurred, and so forth are potentially "major"? Further, that some of Glantz's statements were so poorly worded as to require Chris to raise some of the questions he asked raises some red flags (no pun intended) as well.

And perhaps you could let me in on who delivered all the "flak"? The enigmatic cypher samuel? Greg LG raised quite a number of good points in the various related threads, but they were mostly points of detail and clarification rather than "flak" IIRC? Could you identify whose flak you think shot down which of the 26 points Chris raised?

I recall the "Panthers with 88s" bit very well, but it may have been in another Glantz title? I'll see if I can dredge out of my memory which one it was.

Cheers!

Rich

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Kunikov
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Kunikov » 29 Dec 2009 20:52

"When Titans Clashed" has Glantz mentioning Tigers and Panthers as both having 88mm guns. It is on pg. 167, if amazon 'book search' is to be trusted.
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Qvist » 29 Dec 2009 22:55

The same book also gives the good old mythical tank figures for Prokhorovka, which is one of the things NZ points out at the Swedish website, where he also draws attention to Glantz' characterisation of the Korsun operation general staff study as "remarkably candid and accurate", despite its numerous glaringly wrong statements about German dispositions, actions, strengths, and losses and despite also numerous self-contradictions in it. He contrasts this unfavorably with the job Louis Rotundo did on the Stalingrad GS Study, where claims like this were checked and dealt with without accepting them at face value. I think the last part of his post is worth translating, as it contains some pertinent points of critique:
Glantz has become the spokesman for certain unfortunate ideas:

1. One should "balance" German and soviet sources against each other. This might sound enticing, but is nevertheless wrong. Different sources are suitable for different kinds of information. Some sort of overarching "balancing methodology" is impossible. The historian must know what information he needs (for each individual issue) and seek it in appropriate sources, which frequently means that Soviet sources are quite useless, German sources are quite useless etc. This I consider basic research knowledge.

2. Sources give answers. Glantz has not claimed this explicitly as far as I know, but he writes according to this principle. My opinion however is that this is usually wrong. For very simple questions, such as who commanded a certain unit on a certain day, it may hold, but for more complex issues, such as "Why did an event occur?", "was there a considerable difference in combat efficiency?", "how important was air support for success"? etc, sources do not provide answers. For this type of issue, sources normally give data, which then only yields answers after having been processed according to some suitable analytical methodology. Sadly I have not seen Glantz use any such methodology. One definitely cannot answer such questions wholly by reference to opinions encountered in sources.

3. There's a German view and a Soviet view. Glantz implies that a historian can relate to these two. It is very questionable if there can be said to exist ONE German view. In fact, German historiography as well as its sources is very diverse. The Soviet on the other hand has been shaped by a considerably more unitary impulse. Thus, one may ask which "German view" he is referring to? This notion points towards limited familiarity with German historiography, and so does the German sources he uses.

4. The German side is already well covered in the existing literature. It is the Soviet side that is in need of attention. It is unfortunately the case that the main part of the existing literature on the German armed forces on the Eastern Front is not based on archival research. Myths and misapprehensions are rife, above all in the anglophone literature. Much more research is needed on both sides. Glantz unfortunately has not understood how weak a large part of the existing research is, including that which primarily deals with the Germans. One example of this is his uncritical swallowing of the claim that German aircraft destroyed a large number of Soviet tanks on 8 July at Kursk, something which in fact appears to be one of the numerous cases of grotesque exaggeration of the effect of aerial attack on ground units.
All of whom are in my opinion valid and good points. The responsibility for any inaccuracies or wrong nuances in the translation is of course wholly mine.

I haven't read Glantz' recent Stalingrad book, but what Kunikov refers from that sounds encouraging and would go towards correcting an obvious shortcoming in his previous offerings - he generally simply isn't reliable when it comes to information about the German side (and hence not in any analysis that derives from it), partly by virtue of the poverty of his German sources and partly as a result of excessive reliance on soviet sources for issues for which they are not suited. And this inevitably also raises questions about the sufficiency of critical attitude towards his sources also for the part of his books that deals with the Red Army - particularly as his Soviet sources are generally not the original documentation, but rather Soviet era historiography, with all the limitations this operated under. I don't question his intentions, or for that matter his willingness to be critical (there are numerous instances after all of critical remarks to Soviet sources in his books), but the question is whether he sells himself short by taking too much for granted regarding how well-established the picture on the German side really is.

cheers

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Kunikov
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Kunikov » 30 Dec 2009 00:20

Qvist wrote: I haven't read Glantz' recent Stalingrad book, but what Kunikov refers from that sounds encouraging and would go towards correcting an obvious shortcoming in his previous offerings - he generally simply isn't reliable when it comes to information about the German side (and hence not in any analysis that derives from it), partly by virtue of the poverty of his German sources and partly as a result of excessive reliance on soviet sources for issues for which they are not suited. And this inevitably also raises questions about the sufficiency of critical attitude towards his sources also for the part of his books that deals with the Red Army - particularly as his Soviet sources are generally not the original documentation, but rather Soviet era historiography, with all the limitations this operated under. I don't question his intentions, or for that matter his willingness to be critical (there are numerous instances after all of critical remarks to Soviet sources in his books), but the question is whether he sells himself short by taking too much for granted regarding how well-established the picture on the German side really is.

cheers

One can view both sides exaggerating/omitting, etc., events and numbers throughout the text, although in this case it seems the Soviets did it on a greater scale - perhaps because they were on the losing side at this particular moment.

Balancing out reports from both sides has thus far been done, to my knowledge, only by Jason Mark and Christer Bergstrom (although there are currently two German historians who are fluent in Russian who will be adding to the literature on the Great Patriotic War, but it will not be specifically military history as we are used to it).

I would suggest Mark's influence is a great part of how Glantz styled this trilogy, specifically this second volume (although the scale is much greater). Since I know the documents he is working with, mainly for the Soviet side but also a few sources for the German, I understand how difficult and time consuming it must have been to dig through all of the research at his disposal to put together such a narrative. This is by far the most interesting book I've read by Glantz. Granted, it is dry reading at times, but before reading this second volume I can honestly say my view of the battle at Stalingrad was greatly lacking.
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Qvist
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Qvist » 30 Dec 2009 09:22

It sounds as if I'll have to acquire this, and that it represents quite a leap in Glantz' writing. I agree of course that working closely with this kind of sources from both sides represents an ideal basis to proceed on.

Out of curiosity, how does Glantz' evaluate the condition of 6th Army at the onset of the fight for the city, and does he pay much attention to the preceding fighting in July and August? The reason I ask is that contrary to the impression one tends to get in much writing, the 6th Army documentation I've encountered paints a rather grim picture of rapid deterioration not only during but prior to the battle for the city. If this is correct, then that should imply a greater emphasis on the battles in the Don bend and on the approaches to the city itself.

cheers

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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Kunikov » 30 Dec 2009 11:12

Qvist wrote:It sounds as if I'll have to acquire this, and that it represents quite a leap in Glantz' writing. I agree of course that working closely with this kind of sources from both sides represents an ideal basis to proceed on.

Out of curiosity, how does Glantz' evaluate the condition of 6th Army at the onset of the fight for the city, and does he pay much attention to the preceding fighting in July and August? The reason I ask is that contrary to the impression one tends to get in much writing, the 6th Army documentation I've encountered paints a rather grim picture of rapid deterioration not only during but prior to the battle for the city. If this is correct, then that should imply a greater emphasis on the battles in the Don bend and on the approaches to the city itself.

cheers
The first volume of the trilogy tracks the movements of the Sixth Army on its way to Stalingrad, is losses and condition are examined in detail. Glantz also tracks the forces used specifically in the fight for the city and highlights that the oft-quoted inclusion of the 76th Infantry Division as partaking in the attacks within Stalingrad proper is incorrect.
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Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 30 Dec 2009 12:53

H Rich,

I addressed the last post to both you and Aurora, which may be where the confusion arises. Aurora did use the word "devastating". Lawrence's criticisms of Glantz are far from "devastating".

"Potential errors" are not errors. Given the number of hard facts Glantz crams into his books, there are "potentially" dozens of errors on every page and "potentially" hundreds or even thousands in 16 pages. Lawrence doesn't claim "26 errors" or even "potential errors". He is more modest, only claimimg 26 "disagreements" (his word). Many of these, as we have seen, are far from substantive.

You ask "Could you identify whose flak you think shot down which of the 26 points Chris raised?" I never used the phrase "shot down" and so don't have to defend it.

In an ideal world Glantz would have equal mastery of Soviet and Reich sources, get every fact right and have perfect clarity of phrase. He doesn't. However, his positive and original contribution to the material that is available to us English speakers from Soviet sources is considerable and very much to our benefit. We shouldn't lose sight of this.

By contrast, some of the criticism of him seems relatively petty and one cannot but wonder if some of it springs from critics so immersed in the German point of view that they are offended merely at his temerity in putting any reliance on Soviet sources at all. (And, yes, there are such people who believe that all Soviet sources, however internal, are propaganda. I had run-ins with some on Feldgrau. Whatever the public face of Soviet propaganda, the internal staff studies used by Glantz are prepared by military professionals whose reputation is enhanced by the fact that they won their war).

We have, it appears, finally located, in a general way, the "Panthers with 88s" source. It is undoubtedly an inaccuracy, but how substantive is it? Just because all of us who built Airfix models of Tigers and Panthers in our childhood are aware of their different armament doesn't make this a significant criticism of Glantz's work, which is infinitely more far ranging than details of high velocity tank armament. Besides, who is to say that the error was in Glantz's own knowledge? Perhaps it was an editing error. Perhaps it was a direct translation of a source. Again, in an ideal world, this would be correct, but it hardly constitutues a significant black mark against the body of Glantz's work.

Happy New Year,

Sid.

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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by RichTO90 » 30 Dec 2009 13:21

Sid Guttridge wrote:I addressed the last post to both you and Aurora, which may be where the confusion arises. Aurora did use the word "devastating". Lawrence's criticisms of Glantz are far from "devastating".
Sorry, but your assessment that the criticism's of Glantz are not devastating are as amorphous and subjective as was the assessment that they were. It is your assessemnt that "potential errors" aren't significant or that Chris being circumspect means that the problematic nature of Glantz's work as mentioned by Chris, Zetterling, and Qvist aren't significant in the end. That's fine, but it remains your subjective assessment and thus no more or less valid than their's.
"Potential errors" are not errors. Given the number of hard facts Glantz crams into his books, there are "potentially" dozens of errors on every page and "potentially" hundreds or even thousands in 16 pages. Lawrence doesn't claim "26 errors" or even "potential errors". He is more modest, only claimimg 26 "disagreements" (his word). Many of these, as we have seen, are far from substantive.
It's more like he was being polite than modest, since we knew and liked Glantz. The errors, potential errors, and conflicts of interpretation continued throughout, not just in the first 16 pages.
You ask "Could you identify whose flak you think shot down which of the 26 points Chris raised?" I never used the phrase "shot down" and so don't have to defend it.
Okay then, could you identify who gave Chris flak and what that flak consisted of? And why you think it was significantly relevent enough for you to have mentioned it, apparently with the intent of showing it was nugatory of Chris' argument?
In an ideal world Glantz would have equal mastery of Soviet and Reich sources, get every fact right and have perfect clarity of phrase. He doesn't. However, his positive and original contribution to the material that is available to us English speakers from Soviet sources is considerable and very much to our benefit. We shouldn't lose sight of this.

By contrast, some of the criticism of him seems relatively petty and one cannot but wonder if some of it springs from critics so immersed in the German point of view that they are offended merely at his temerity in putting any reliance on Soviet sources at all. (And, yes, there are such people who believe that all Soviet sources, however internal, are propaganda. I had run-ins with some on Feldgrau. Whatever the public face of Soviet propaganda, the internal staff studies used by Glantz are prepared by military professionals whose reputation is enhanced by the fact that they won their war).
But I don't believe such an ideal world exists and know that I will find errors in any work and expect that others will find error in mine. But I also don't expect to find an error or potential error or a tortutred sentence that I have to deconstruct or attempt to fathom on every page.

And if those reputable professionals who are enhanced by being winners get something wrong I don't have a problem saying that it is wrong - why do you? The Korsun staff study, like the Kursk staff study, is replete with errors. It simply doesn't matter that the authors were winners, they were winners who wrote bad staff studies.
Happy New Year,

Sid.
And to you...talk to you more then.

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