Synopses & Reviews
What was it about the German Way of War that has resulted in a near universal acceptance of that nation’s battlefield excellence? How did a nation recognized for its military supremacy end up on the losing side of two world wars? Author Michael Palmer offers his two-part thesis:“First, the Germans, unlike the Americans, failed to mature strategically as their nation grew and became more powerful. Second, the Germans, along with virtually everyone else, misinterpreted the lessons of their own successes against Denmark (1864), Austria (1866), and France (1870) and concluded that they had to and could successfully wage short, decisive wars in the age of industrial warfare. Reality caught up with them during the years of 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945, and the world, the Germans included, paid a horribly steep price for that mistake.” Palmer describes the major battles and events of every major German war during this period, offering insight and analysis to help the reader sort out the causes and effects of each war, including: The Franco-Prussian War: “France, an empire, became a republic. The Prussian king became the emperor of a new national German empire. The destruction of French power allowed the Italians to complete the unification of their country.” World War I: “When peace finally came, the Versailles treaty restricted the Weimar Republic, which had replaced the kaiser’s Second Reich, to an army of 100,000 men, a force easily outnumbered by the Poles. They even had to dismantle their infamous general staff.” World War II: “Tactically, the Germans retained their superiority until the end of the war. But here, too, the German advantage declined as the war progressed, and Allied tactics improved as their armies learned from experience much of what the Germans had learned from study during the 1920s.”
In the decades leading up to World War II, the world was in awe of the Prussian-German military, seeking to emulate what esteemed German military history scholar Robert M. Citino has termed “the German Way of War.” Military professionals around the globe became fluent in the tactical jargon: bewegungskrieg
, and of course, blitzkrieg
. At the same time, German warfare would become closely associated with the bloodiest and cruelest era in the history of mankind. The German Wars: A Concise History, 1859–1945
outlines the history of European warfare from the Wars of German Unification to the end of World War II. Author Michael A. Palmer looks at political, social, economic, and military developments across Europe and the United States during this crucial period in world history. The German wars would have a lasting impact in the modern age. As Palmer writes, these wars "brought to an end and revealed the shortcomings of the classical era of modern Western military thought. But the regressive slide toward premodern and primitive warfare, in combination with the fruits of the industrial and scientific revolutions, places the world on the edge of an abyss."
The German Wars: A Concise History, 1859-1945 outlines the history of European warfare from the Wars of German Unification to the end of the World War II. The title aside, the book is not be another history of the German military; it takes a much broader approach looking at political, social, economic, and military developments across Europe, and the United States during the period. The “German War” part of the title is there because Germany plays the central part in the story. But the key element threading its way through this volume is the Industrial Revolution.
About the Author
"...a provocative look at the methods that Germany used to wage war, and why ultimately they failed."
"Palmer has succeeded in creating an outstanding short history of the German wars that influenced the development of Europe and the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a terrific introduction and overview of the subject."
Kepler's Military History Book Reviews
"This is an excellent book...It is highly readable. It would be an excellent addition to the library of any military historian, public library, university library as well as personal collection of persons with interest in European or Trans-Atlantic History."
Midwest Book Review
"The German Wars provides a fine survey of how a nation came to be recognized for its military supremacy - despite losing two world wars. Michael Palmer provides an analysis of German military might that discusses their strategic failures, bad assumptions, and how their method of superior warfare became outdated. Chapters describe major battles of Germans and offer fine strategic analysis perfect for military history holdings."
Bookviews by Alan Caruba
"The German Wars provides both detail and insight regarding a nation called “the Huns” by those it attacked. Feared for its excellence on the battlefield, the irony is that it lost both wars it initiated in the last century, but its full history is filled with a warning for a new generation that faces off against new potential enemies, not the least of which is Iran these days."