How are books by David Glantz

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Jan 2012 13:26

Hi Fred,

I read the first page of your link and found it most interesting.

Virtually every criticism of Glantz that is raised on it is about his treatment of German forces. There is hardly a single criticism of his treatment of Soviet forces.

It should be noted that these critics, who seem often to be authors in their own right, also seem to think that all other previous publications on the battle of Kursk are redundant because of their own work, not just Glantz's.

Some also seem to have a problem with his use of Soviet sources, as if they themselves don't use Nazi German ones. Where else, one wonders, does one gather primary information on the Red Army?

The acknowledged weakness of Glantz has always been that his knowledge of German forces is poorer than his knowledge of German forces, but one wonders if his critics may not suffer from the reverse handicap.

We have lots of choice about which author relying primarily on German sources we choose to read, but very little choice but to go to Glantz for the Soviet side. This does not make him infallible, but it makes him more valuable than any single author approaching the same subjects from primarily German sources.

ljadw
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by ljadw » 07 Jan 2012 16:54

If,and as so far,the Russian sources used by Glantz,are reliable : =I find it questionable that he uses Soviet sources to give information about German strength and losses .

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 07 Jan 2012 18:55

Sid,

Good post, I do see your point of view. I think maybe I'm being a bit harsh to cover up my guilt and self-loathing :oops: for buying a book and then not finishing reading it; perhaps I misunderstood the depth of detail that I would encounter!

I quite agree that there is room for both the detailed work of historians beavering away up to the elbows in dusty archives and for more popularist historians who write sweeping narratives that bring events alive. I guess my problem is that I've not got the sort of interest in the Eastern Front as I have for the comparatively small battles on the Western Front. It is obviously easier to write a book that is both detailed and also contains more "human experience" if you are trying to describe the battles in North Africa rather than the battle of Stalingrad. :lol:

I must confess I found myself adding up all the British tanks in the Soviet Army's order of battle and thinking how useful they would have been to the Commonwealth forces in the desert, rather than thinking what effect they had on the battle of Stalingrad. :oops:

Cheers,

Tom

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Jan 2012 12:55

Hi Guys,

The following is a review of Glantz's Red storm over the Balkans: the failed Soviet invasion of Romania, spring 1944.

I include it because the book illustrates what Glantz does best - produce a mass of new material on a less high-profile Eastern Front battle, and thereby shift perceptions of its significance.

In early April 1944 Romanian oil was still fully at the service of the Axis, the country was negotiating with the Allies in Cairo for a way out of the war and no agreement had yet been reached between the USSR and Western Allies on spheres of influence in the Balkans. Therefore a successful Soviet strategic offensive through Romania at this time might have had major consequence both for the duration of the war and the post-war settlement.

The book’s claim is that just such a strategic offensive, with open-ended, opportunist goals in the Balkans, was attempted by the USSR at this time and soundly defeated by German-Romanian forces. Some earlier German authors have made a similar claim, but Soviet sources have previously played down the setback, leaving its true significance in doubt. Glantz’s contribution here is to use Soviet sources to fundamentally re-evaluate the significance of their operations on the borders of Romania in April-May 1944 and conclude convincingly that a major Red Army strategic coup attempt in the Balkans was, indeed, defeated.

The main body of the text builds up a detailed operational record of six interlinked battles; 2nd Ukrainian Front’s failed attempt to break into Romania off the march from the north-east in mid April and a simultaneous and similarly unsuccessful attempt by 3rd Ukrainian Front to bounce the River Dnestr from the east. In early May both fronts tried to resume their advance with deep ranging strategic objectives in the Balkans but made limited progress. A third Soviet attempt to pick up the pace was pre-empted by the German 6th Army’s rare feat of decisively defeating 3rd Ukrainian Front’s bridgeheads over the Dnestr in the second half of May and the German 8th Army’s local counter-offensive against 2nd Ukrainian Front at the beginning of June.

The author builds up a convincing picture of an aggressive German armoured defence repeatedly frustrating a rather larger but over extended Red Army opponent attempting to achieve over ambitious strategic goals in the midst of a spring thaw that had in previous years paralysed operations.

The one missing element seems to be information on air operations. These were undoubtedly often intense on both sides, but are treated only in passing and so their influence on ground combat is unclear. On the other hand, an understated achievement of the book is to show that there was still some operational value in Romanian forces on the main Eastern Front, provided they were backed by adequate German armour. The author does not use Romanian sources, but nevertheless provides the most thorough available account of their operations.

The author makes his case most effectively with the thoroughness of text, sequential mapping and Soviet sources that are his trademark. A welcome advance on his earliest work is the strengthening of his German sources to match his undoubted mastery of Soviet ones.

For anyone with a specialist interest in the Eastern Front, this authoritative book is required reading. Furthermore, although the text is densely written, as Glantz’s style is clear and accessible, and his subject original, it deserves to attract a wider audience.

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henryk
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by henryk » 09 Jan 2012 21:04

Sid Guttridge wrote:In early April 1944 Romanian oil was still fully at the service of the Axis, the country was negotiating with the Allies in Cairo for a way out of the war and no agreement had yet been reached between the USSR and Western Allies on spheres of influence in the Balkans. Therefore a successful Soviet strategic offensive through Romania at this time might have had major consequence both for the duration of the war and the post-war settlement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehran_Conference
The Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka[1]) was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
One of Roosevelt and Churchill's main concessions concerned post-war Poland. Stalin wished for an area in the Eastern part of Poland to be added to the USSR, and for the border to be lengthened elsewhere in the country. Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to this demand, and Poland’s borders were declared to lie along the Oder and Neisse rivers and the Curzon line, despite protests of the Polish government-in-exile in London. Churchill and Roosevelt also consented to the USSR setting up puppet communist governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states, Romania, and other Eastern European countries which would result in a loss of freedom by these countries for the next fifty years and would be the genesis of the Cold War.[citation needed] After the conference it was agreed that military leaders of the three countries would meet together often, for further discussion.

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Kunikov
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Kunikov » 09 Jan 2012 23:08

Negotiations for the postwar settlement of Eastern European states were ongoing, see the Fourth Moscow Conference in late 1944. And since when is wikipedia an acceptable source?
"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

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 10 Jan 2012 12:03

Ditto.

The so-called "Percentages Agreement" between Stalin and Churchill was finalized in October 1944, if I remember correctly.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 10 Jan 2012 20:56

Sid,

Just to prove that my problem with "To the Gates of Stalingrad" was to do with my attention span rather than Glantz's hugely detailed narrative, please see my post on an equally fact-rich book about the North African campaign which I heartily enjoyed.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9&t=185279

Which just goes to show how shallow I am! :lol:

Regards,

Tom

Omeganian
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Omeganian » 21 Jan 2012 08:52

Saw this footnote in The Stumbling Colossus. Made me crack:
Complete transcripts of the conference are now available, as are the scenarios for the war games. For details, see Glantz, Military Strategy. 81-86.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Jan 2012 13:45

Hi Omeganian,

Perhaps I have had a humour bypass, but why did that make you "crack"?

Cheers,

Sid.

Omeganian
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Omeganian » 21 Jan 2012 14:31

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Omeganian,

Perhaps I have had a humour bypass, but why did that make you "crack"?

Cheers,

Sid.
The Military Strategy was released in 1992. The materials were only published in 1993, and revealed significant inaccuracies in the old descriptions. Also, it gives no details about the conference itself.

Aurora
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Aurora » 12 Apr 2012 05:01

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Fred,

I read the first page of your link and found it most interesting.

Virtually every criticism of Glantz that is raised on it is about his treatment of German forces. There is hardly a single criticism of his treatment of Soviet forces.

It should be noted that these critics, who seem often to be authors in their own right, also seem to think that all other previous publications on the battle of Kursk are redundant because of their own work, not just Glantz's.

Some also seem to have a problem with his use of Soviet sources, as if they themselves don't use Nazi German ones. Where else, one wonders, does one gather primary information on the Red Army?
It's interesting to note that Glantz has now been facing the same type of critique on Internet forums for over a decade, and yet the reactions to it are essentially the same. The issue is not that he is using Soviet sources in and of itself, but that he gives them too much weight or that he uses them in the wrong way, and as a result his whole narrative suffers. It just so happens that the German sources are often more reliable (insofar as Glantz should make use of them) - this is not ascribing to some type of German view, or bias. It is fact.

Methodology, Glantz and whatnot is also discussed at these two decade old topics (one of which you yourself were a participant):

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... 26t%3D1365

and

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... 26t%3D2457

The lenghty links are Google-caches, you can browse the pages of the threads by typing in cache: in the google search bar before the original link to it (hover to mouse over the page number to get it, or click it).
Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Guys,

The following is a review of Glantz's Red storm over the Balkans: the failed Soviet invasion of Romania, spring 1944.

I include it because the book illustrates what Glantz does best - produce a mass of new material on a less high-profile Eastern Front battle, and thereby shift perceptions of its significance.
You could also include the discussion and critique of the book on this forum:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5&t=138604

And yes it does include the inevitable "Who are you to criticize Glantz?"-reply :)

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Apr 2012 13:18

Hi Aurora,

You write, "It just so happens that the German sources are often more reliable..... this is not ascribing to some type of German view, or bias. It is fact."

I dare say that is as true as to suggest "It just so happens that the Russian sources are often more reliable..... this is not ascribing to some type of Russian view, or bias. It is fact."

German sources certainly aren't likely to be more accurate on the Red Army than its own archives, or vice versa.

A good military history would ideally draw equally on primary sources from both sides. The problem with Glantz is that his expertise is more Soviet than German. The problem with most other military histories of the Eastern Frtont is the reverse.

The thing about Glantz is that published Soviet specialists are rarer birds than German specialists, and this makes him particularly valuable.

Cheers,

Sid.

Aurora
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Aurora » 12 Apr 2012 14:08

Well that's good, I think we are on the same page then. Only no one is arguing that he should use German sources for Soviet losses. Despite all of that there is more often than not an inherent quality in the German source material that isn't present in much of the Soviet material - sources even intended for internal consumption are often flawed, even on a very early stage on.

But it looks like you are adamant at deflecting any type of critique of Glantz with him doing an invaluable service for the Russian side of things. So I think we can leave this debate at that.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How are books by David Glantz

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Apr 2012 11:16

Hi Aurora,

You write: "Despite all of that there is more often than not an inherent quality in the German source material that isn't present in much of the Soviet material....."

This is certainly a widespread working assumption (to which I have subscribed in the past), but what is the actual evidence for it?

Cheers,

Sid.

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