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Posted on Jul 16, 2008 in Armchair Reading

September 2008 Issue: Hitler’s Best General

Armchair General

September 2008 Table of Contents
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In this issue, you’ll learn

  • What legendary force, outnumbered 2,000 to 65, chose to fight to the death, making a bayonet charge when ammunition ran out.
  • How the chieftain Shaka reformed Zulu armies to create an empire
    ONLINE EXTRA: Sojourning Sacred Ground: Tips for Touring Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift
  • Who the military theorist was whose opinions prompted the world’s massive naval buildup prior to World War I
  • Why Eric von Manstein may have been the best German Field Marshal of World War II




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  1. I loved the issue! I’ve read it cover to cover already (I received it in the mail on Wednesday), though I have yet to complete and send in my solution to the CDG. Hopefully this time I’ll be able to be a winner, though I can’t complain as I’ve been an Honorable Mention twice so far.

    I especially loved the articles on the French Foreign Legion, Erhard Raus (he’s one of my favorite German generals, yet one of the least well known), and on Manstein, especially the part on his Crimean campaign. Ralph Peter’s article on the decline of Islamic military power from the 17th-19th centuries was well written and informative as well.

    Peters also made a few good points in his Crisis Watch column this time, and I was glad to see that he pointed out, in order to prove his point that oftentimes wars start with too many “promises” and goals that are too high, that “World War II formally began as England and France rallied to champion Polish independence. Yet at the victorious end of that just, “good war,” half of Europe—including Poland—was enslaved by Joseph Stalin’s monstrous regime.” The fact that England and France originally went to war for a cause that they could not feasibly support, and that at the end of the war the original people for whom the Allies started the “good war” ended up being enslaved is a point that needs to be made more often than it is.

    The interview with Theodore P. Savas was interesting. I found especially intriguing the fact that he forgoes all forms of technology in his classes, uses the Socratic method, and forbids all dull, politically correct talk. If only all students had the privilege of having such a teacher as Mr. Savas! I am homeschooled, and I use the Socratic method, a curriculum that is heavily grounded in the Classics and Western Civilization, and loathe politically correct talk, though I must admit that I do use a computer for school. Kudos to Mr. Savas for being a real teacher of history!

    David T. Zabecki’s article on Chiefs of Staff, The Commander’s Right Arm, was also very good, and provided one with a basic overview both of what chiefs of staff are, and how they have evolved over time within different armies.

    I did have a few minor quibbles, mainly that the article on Raus should have at least mentioned in passing his excellent book Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941-1945, which I own and have read more than once. It is not only a wonderful account of Raus’ personal experiences in WWII, but a great look at many important aspects of the war on the Ostfront, including: 1) the phenomenal success of Blitzkrieg early on in Barbarossa during the invasion of Russia; 2) the failure of the drive on Moscow due in part to horrible weather; 3) the minor yet very important skirmishes and battles that took place during the winter of 1941-1942, when both sides were exhausted yet each tried to stabilize their respective front lines; 4) the drive to relieve Stalingrad which almost succeeded; the ultimate failure of Operation Citadel (though Raus’ men, as part of Citadel’s southern prong around Prokhorovka, did make some headway against Soviet defenses); 5) the Russians’ gradual adoption of Blitzkrieg tactics and massed artillery bombardments, which Raus deftly countered using dummy defenses and mobile reserves; and 6) the eventual total collapse of the German army on the Eastern Front. Raus’ book is a must-have for any serious student of WWII and the Eastern Front.

    In summary, I loved the September 2008 issue, and in my opinion it is one of the best issues to date. Raus, the French Foreign Legion, Manstein, Stalingrad, Muslim defeats, Ludendorff, Bayerlein and other chiefs of staff, plus the usual features and game reviews—how could one not love it? Thank you Mr. Weider, Col. Morelock, and everyone at ACG, and thank you also to Mr. Swick for his work on the website.

    In closing, allow me to briefly comment on Col. Morelock’s reply in Mailbag to my post regarding the chronology error in the “100 Greatest Generals” article.

    Col. Morelock: I can understand your error; when one constantly thinks in terms of A.D., switching to B.C. and trying to arrange events that happened then chronologically can be very difficult. And, since the article in question contained both B.C. AND A.D. dates, that made your task doubly hard! Thanks for the humorous reply and, with the Sep. ’08 installment, another great issue of ACG!

    Looking forward to doing CDG #27, and to the next issue.

    God Bless,
    Alexander Wilson

  2. Alexander…thanks so much for your detailed feedback which is very motivating. I often say that I want negative feedback because I learn how to improve from it…but in this case your nice feedback was very motivating.

  3. Even if my name wasn’t in the issue, it would still be one of your best! tour rise and fall opf the Ottomans series is excellent-learned some things about Prinz Eugen, and I had read elsewhere that the Turks were armed with Winchesters at Plevna. Erhard Raus is an overlooked German general-A personal favorite of mine was Gotthard Heinrici, hoping to see an article about hime, as well as Kolkan Gol, the battle that may have decided WWII before it even began, and something on how better command and control would have allowed the French Army to be a much tougher adversary in 1940

  4. Paul,

    Great future article ideas, regarding Heinrici, the Battle of Khalkin Gol, and the lack of a good French command system. Maybe we’ll see some articles on one or more of those subjects in a future issue…


  5. I have been buying ACG at my local bookstore for many years and have just started my subscription. This was one of your best! I was in Kharkov, Ukraine last summer on a work project with my church. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to see much of what happened there. Your articles “Manstein’s East Front Gambit” and “Bloody Kharkov” only served to make my time there that much more real. Hitler (and Stalin)devastated the place but I found the Ukrainians to be a wonderful people. Their resiliency is so evident and my hat’s off to them. Keep up the good work at ACG!

  6. Thanks for these very helpful comments!!

  7. A piece on Congo mercenary leader Mike Hoare and his 5 Commando and their exploits, liberating Stanleyville etc,would be interesting. His classic book Congo Mercenary has just been re-released


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