The German Generals Talk
A must-read book for those interested in strategy, the history of the Third Reich or the military history of WWII. That said, The German Generals Talk as a text must be treated very cautiously due to the author’s lack of objectivity, the disadvantage of his interview subjects at the time of their captivity and Liddell-Hart’s well documented efforts to use his interview subjects for self-promotional purposes. Nevertheless, the commentaries by major Wehrmacht generals and field marshals, especially Gerd von Rundstedt, Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, Hasso von Maneuffel, Günther Blumentritt and Heinz Guderian, are informative and at times, provocative. Liddell-Hart’s critiques of German military campaigns are often insightful, usually colorful, frequently sycophantic, but usually to the point – though they often used as a foil for advancing Liddell-Hart’s strategic ideas.
War Before Civilization
Two of the smarter, myth-debunking books I have read in the past year or so have been older, still in print, works by academic archaeologists. Much like Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies, Lawrence Keeley overturns dogmatic archetypes about “primitive” warfare in prehistoric and pre-contact societies held by social scientists and military historians in War Before Civilization. Not only was prehistoric warfare more violent, more “total” and less restrained than modern warfare but Keeley argues that primitive “warriors” tended to best disciplined “soldiers” in wars when all other things were equal, except when the “soldiers” enlisted their own savage proxies (or adopted morally unconstrained primitive tactics). It was a sliding scale; the barbaric Vikings terrorized “civilized” European and English men-at-arms, but were in turn themselves routed and expelled by the more savage Native Americans and Inuit warriors of North America.