Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by Cult Icon » 26 Jul 2021 23:00

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
09 Jul 2021 00:54
Given that we have several decades of analytical dearth and, when given, of superficial opinion writing, I'm not that interested or hopeful here. Different authors have different virtues; Glantz is for finding a good picture of what the Soviets were doing/thinking.
I agree with that. The Glantz books are superior to everyone elses' due to its objectivity, presenting documents and troop movements on both sides. I think this will make his books timeless even after his death.

However it would still be interesting to know more of his opinions, editorial stance... Since his histories are of daily, and operational nature what is going on with the tactical environment and with companies, battalions, regiments is often a ??? and often raise more questions than answers. So the only tactical clues are in the thousands of pages of translated Soviet documents and excerpts.

The recent texts, starting from the Stalingrad Trilogy are the best ones he's done before more tactical detail is included.

On the part of the reader, it puts a great amount of work. The historian is supposed to be one working for the reader, and helping them save a lot of time. I find that Glantz books are more time-consuming to read and comprehend than any other military history for this reason.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 27 Jul 2021 03:18

Cult Icon wrote:
26 Jul 2021 23:00
On the part of the reader, it puts a great amount of work. The historian is supposed to be one working for the reader, and helping them save a lot of time. I find that Glantz books are more time-consuming to read and comprehend than any other military history for this reason.
I'd guess part of Glantz's hesitancy to provide analytical conclusions traces to his having an "atmospheric" thesis that he can't quite say outright because it's absurd. That thesis is that the Red Army ended up being about as skilled as the German Army.

Re Stalingrad Trilogy - I agree it's good work but is lacking in certain areas. Most critically to me is the somewhat summary treatment of Blau I/II. I went to the first book expecting to learn what happened in Blau I - why didn't the Germans create a decent Kessel - but came away none the wiser. Nobody else has a great explanation either, IMJ. I've tried one version here but I have zero Russian ability so am missing that side of the story.
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Jul 2021 06:56

I recall that Glantz's explanation was that the Soviets retreated too fast and thus avoided worse encirclements, unlike in Barbarossa where they had a tendency to "stand fast" too long and try to counterattack.

According to Dunn & Glantz (Igorn N. and Colonel Armstrong) they subscribe to the Soviet explanation of things, being that of organizational improvement and saturating the Eastern Front with ever-increasing quantities of weapons, particularly anti-tank. I think this is correct however the Soviet narrative overstates things, outside their elite Tank units, they never figured out how to make the non-motorized units have successful attacks with low casualties. This success was more impressive in the sharp increase in defense capabilities, in how they were able in the late war to defense successfully despite the porous Eastern Front being more difficult to defend. Glantz's Red Storm over the Balkans 1944 is critical about Red Army performance but the criticism is mainly aimed at the generalship than of lower tactical levels, a tendency of his work.

I don't know why he avoids tactics except for many soviet document excerpts; perhaps it's part of the style of minimizing subjectivity to a bare minimum so latter on his works wouldn't get pooh-poohed for being in error, advancing a flawed narrative, and thus branded as obsolete.

And of course, the obvious: It would make his already extremely long books impossibly long and multi-volume. The great armored warfare of July-August 1943 is covered in one of his more bare-bones books (From the Don to the Dnepr). A much-needed expansion on this with tactical detail would turn it into a multi-volume series. I hope his team eventually gets to do this before he retires or passes away. The last Glantz efforts in detailed histories have been moving chronologically into 1943 with the two "Don" books.

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