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Field Marshal von Manstein: The Janushead - A Portrait [Hardcover]

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Item description for Field Marshal von Manstein: The Janushead - A Portrait by Marcel Stein...

Most military historians are in agreement that Feldmarschall Erich von Manstein was the most outstanding German high commander of the Second World War. Many view him as the foremost exponent of large-scale mobile operations in any of the Second World War armies.

Surprisingly, no biography of him has yet been written. To this day, his family refuses to release the papers of his estate to the German military archives at Freiburg. Furthermore the contradictions in the personality of von Manstein make it difficult to generate a synthesis. On one side there is an extraordinary military talent, on the other many political and moral aspects. His military achievements stand in sharp contrast to his inhumane policy of occupation in Russia, his active participation in the slaughter of Jews in Southern Ukraine and the Crimea and his ambivalent attitude to the military resistance movement.

These contradictions have led the author to describe Manstein as 'the Janushead' - the term chosen for the title of the book. He has not written a traditional biography but a portrait.

A complete account of all phases of Manstein's career is given in one chapter, seven more chapters deal extensively with milestones in Manstein's career: his successful plan for the battle of France which led to the defeat of the French Army in less than one month, his dereliction of duty during the battle for Stalingrad, his hubris which led to the disaster of the battle for Kursk, his refusal to take part in the military resistance movement, his compliance with the Commissar order and his involvement in the Holocaust.

The author has widened the subject well beyond the personality of its central figure. It shows how the Nazi system, step by step, succeeded in perverting the centuries-old traditions of the Prussian and German officer corps. Thus, an additional number of German generals are treated in detail to illustrate how moral decrepitude progressively penetrated the highest levels of the armed forces.

This is a very important book, not just because of its up-to-date treatment of von Manstein, a personality who very much requires such an examination, but also due to its wide-ranging and original examination of the Second World War German officer corps at the highest levels.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   464
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.5" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.7"
Weight:   3.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Publisher   Helion and Company
ISBN  1906033021  
ISBN13  9781906033026  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Field Marshal von Manstein: The Janushead - A Portrait?

I wasted my money  Jan 26, 2008
I was eager to receive this book, as Manstein has always been an enigmatic figure...probably Germany's outstanding general of World War II, yet evidently a man lacking in moral character and personal courage as his country fell into catastrophe. I have long searched for a scholarly biography or study of his role during the War. Yet this poorly written, appallingly edited and miserably translated book does little seriously to analyze and probe this complex man. After the first 100 pages I skimmed through the rest so at least I could say I read it. But it was a chore.
a lost chance....  Dec 28, 2007
This book is not a good one, and that is a pity. Why is this the case. Well in the first place there is very little objectivity. The opinion of the author is very clear and there is very little room for an open en fair balance. Facts are not used in the proper way. When writing a sort of a biography that balance is essential.
Second there are almost no new facts about Von Manstein. The most things you can read in other books about WWII, The german Army, Stalingrad etc. When writting a book about one person, you expect new things
Third, much information goes not about Von Manstein and has very little relevancy for the central person in this book.For Example the long story about Gamalin and other France generals.

It is certainly not a superb book and also not a complete biography. It is very much the unbalanced opinion of the writer. Don't buy it is my advise.

A 'must' for any collection going beyond casual World War II analysis.  Jul 7, 2007
Military libraries strong in World War II history, particularly in profiling German military personalities, probably already have casual coverage and mention of von Manstein, largely considered the most outstanding German high commander of the war - but no complete biography of him has appeared in print until now, making Field Marshal Von Manstein: The Janus Head/A Portrait an unparalleled 'must' for any serious military holding. From his political and military achievements to his inhumane policies in Russia and active participation in Jewish slaughters, this book outlines the contradictions in Manstein's psyche and analyzes both his military and philosophical might. A 'must' for any collection going beyond casual World War II analysis.
Outstanding new study  Jun 25, 2007
This is comfortably one of the most important books published on the Second World War German armed forces in recent years. For decades, Manstein's reputation has rested on his self-serving autobiography, and similar hagiographical studies. This brand new work, based on deep research in German and Soviet archives, paints him in a different light.

The book is organised around central themes, which are broadly chronological. Some of the most interesting material relates to his involvement in the invasion of the Soviet Union, both in terms of his battlefield performance and his involvement in the Holocaust.

This is not light 'airport' reading, but it is filled with clarity and throws a huge amount of light on the German Second World War officer corps in general, as well as Manstein himself.

However, I cannot agree with one reviewer that this book has been sloppily done by the publisher. The book is very professionally laid out, with very clear footnotes and maps. There is a comprehensive list of sources and bibliography, and index.

In a word, Superb! If you have a real interest in the German Armed Forces in World War II, then this should be on your bookshelf.
Could have been excellent, if weren't published horribly  Jun 7, 2007
In terms of design, editing, typesetting and proofreading, this is the worst book I've red in the last 20 years or so. 5 stars for author's content, 1 for publisher's mess of a job.

Let me elaborate.

The German original of this book has the title "Der Januskopf: Feldmarschall von Manstein: eine Neubewertung" ("The Janushead: Field Marshal von Manshtein: A Reappraisal") and a Roman coin with double-faced Janus on its cover. Clear and simple: Janus implies duplicity, so probably not everything was OK with the "best strategic mind" of the Wehrmacht. Hence 'reappraisal.' What was wrong with that? Apparently, everything.

On page iv, you can find that the English edition "is not a verbatim translation of the German original": something has been removed, something added, "in order to help the foreign reader's understanding of details that are clear to a German reader, but which require further elaboration in a foreign version."

Here goes the Roman coin: a foreign (that is, English) reader would think that the book is about ancient Rome. Haven't you heard what happened to "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian?" Why not make it straight and place Manstein's mug on the cover instead? And to make it even easier, let's turn subtitle into the title: "Field Marshal von Manstein." That's better. Now, "a reappraisal"? God forbid, we are talking about the Great Manstein here! Marketing, you know. So, what these downsized Janushead and his coin are doing here, confusing a prospective buyer? My guess is, the author did not agree with their total removal. But that's fine: the Wehrmacht uniform is clearly visible, and what sells better than Nazi (aside from cats and golf, of course)?

Author "extends his thanks" to the publisher for "professionalism." Does Helion & Co. deserve his thanks?

Here are some errors I've notices (and I am not a proofreader). I will not list here misplaced or missing spaces, commas, periods, hyphens, dashes, quotation marks or parentheses--it will be too much. Missing text is in brackets:

p. 5: "Trotsky will remain [in] history's pantheon ..."--as you will see, somebody at Helion has an issue with the preposition 'in.'
p. 6: "Books in German, and in foreign literature, that treat Manstein [in] some detail ..."
p. 8: "His book is apologetic and inspired by a wish to respond to the growing crtiticism of Manstein [in] Germany."
p. 9: "Apart from the his participation ..." [delete 'the']
p. 10: "The book appeared in 1976."--compare fn 12 on the same page: publication date is 1966.
p. 12: "History Otetchesvennoi Voiny Sovietskogo Soyuza (IVOVS)"--should be "Istoriya Otechestvennoy Voiny Sovietskogo Soyuza (IVOVSS)" ("History of the Patriotic War of the Soviet Union").
p. 13: "Often several 'fronts' were temporarily placed under the authority of one commander and his unit was named 'direction' in Russian". Yes, a deputy of the Soviet High Command (Stavka) could coordinate actions of several fronts, but this never was a unit, and it never been called 'direction' in Russian, which doesn't have such a word; apparently, it's Russian "napravleniye," which still wasn't a unit.
p. 28: "... was untiring in his efforts to obtain a complete a rehabilitation of Fritsch." [delete second article 'a']
ibid.: "... to find himself in the place that a Moltke, a Schlieffen and a Beck had occupied ..." [delete articles 'a']
p. 29: "Although Hitler had never met Manstein [in] person ..."
p. 31: "... Manstein's plan was the architect of the German ... victory."--Plan was the architect?!
p. 40: "... parts only of 11th Army ..." should be "only parts."
p. 42: "... against Hitler's order to have 6th Army remain [in] the Kessel."
p. 44: "... that he longed to meet Manstein [in] person ..."
p. 58: "9 November 1944: ..."--should be 1943: Manstein was dismissed on 30th of March 1944 (see the next paragraph).
p. 80: "... he laid out his his ideas about Sichelschnitt to Rundstedt[.]" [delete second 'his']
p. 81: "Schundt"--should be Schmundt, compare with correct spelling on the very next line.
p. 86: "After the end of World War II, Marshal Pétain became vice president ..."--after the World War ONE!
p. 87: "Methusalems"--should be Methuselahs.
p. 90: "Gamelin complained to the British Secretary of War, Duff Cooper, who Deverell had relieved."--should be "who had relieved Deverell."
p. 91: "In 1939, it became, 'Try to become a shirker.'"--compare with fn 39: the quoted book was published in 1917 (?): no, the correct date is 1971 (!), see Bibliography, p. 420.
p. 94: "In his description of the 'Breda variant', Frieser calls Gamelin a new Terentius Varro, an early Roman scholar." I don't have the German original of "The Blitzkrieg Legend" by Karl-Heinz Frieser; in the English translation, which I have in my possession, on p. 46, Frieser quoted the former French air force minister Pierre Cot, who wrote that the French could cry to their air force, 'What did you do with our aircraft?', like Augustus was crying 'Varus! Give me my legions back!' after Quintilius Varus lost three legions in the Teutoburg Forest. You don't have to be classical scholar to know that the Roman general Publius Quintilius Varus is not the same person as 'an early Roman scholar' Marcus Terentius Varro--it would be enough to watch "I, Claudius." K.-H. Frieser didn't call Gamelin 'a new Terentius Varro'--why would he? What that scholar has to do with General Gamelin? I bet, it was also correctly Varus in the German edition of the "Januskopf." Is this one of the 'details that are clear to a German reader,' but which needed 'further elaboration' for a dumb foreigner?
p. 109: "Pi³sudski"--should be Pilsudski.
p. 112: "... he phoned Manstein [in] the midd[l]e of the night."
p. 113: "No German high command [officer?] would go further than Manstein ..."
ibid.: "In 'antiquity' [why in quotation marks?], traitors were thrown off the Tarpeian Rock in Rome."--another 'elaboration in a foreign version' of a detail 'clear to a German reader'? Or was this in the original, too?
p. 115: "Koralev"--should be Korolev.
p. 121: "Ssadogoye"--??? may be, Sadovoye?
p. 123: "... the nickname Fabius Cunctator, the delayer ..."--Why 'Fabius Cunctator' in italics? It is a name! And what student of military history doesn't know Quintus Fabius Maximus, the conqueror of Hannibal? Why 'elaborate'?
p. 127: "... had warned him in September 1952 ..."--should be 1942.
ibid.: "... I am not a Reichenau." [delete 'a'?]
p. 131: "Potemkin type village"--why 'type'? Potemkin village is a Potemkin village. Proverbial.
ibid.: "... become Communist sympathisers and remain [in the] East Germany after the war."
p. 138: "Anatol[y] Mereschko"--should be transliterated 'Merezhko' (same Russian letter as first in Zhukov).
p. 140: "... assisted the NKVD in their 'terror'."--why in quotation marks? was it terror, or wasn't? (same again of pp. 166 and 257).
ibid., fn 69: "Ibid, p. [?]"
p. 143, fn 82: "Piekalkiewicz, p. [?]"
p. 149: "... was named a Fabius cunctator, ie a great delayer."--again (and again on pp. 152 and 159), why this name is in italics? and why Cunctator (which should start with capital 'C,' by the way) with an article? why again this elaboration, 'ie a great delayer'? By the way, Maximus (the Great) in the Cunctator's name is because he saved Rome from Hannibal, not because he was a great delayer.
p. 150: "Mychkovka"--probably, should be Mychovka (compare with spelling just few lines further down); if this is correct, the English transliteration is Mykhovka.
ibid.: "Nish-Kimsky"--should be Nischne-Kimsky (means Lower Kimsky, compare with Verchne-Kimsky, that is, Upper Kimsky, on the same line). Correct English transliterations of the toponyms in the following paragraphs: Verkhne-Kimsky, Nizhne-Kimsky, Chir, Kalach, Chervlenaya.
p. 151: "... rendering it impossible to remain [in] the Kessel ..."
ibid.: "... with a reservatio mentalis, ie a silent disagreement ..."--this has just been explained, on the previous page.
p. 152: "inititiative"--should be "initiative."
p. 155: "... while the brea[k]-out proceeds ..."
p. 164: "chipucha"--correct transliteration is "chepukha."
p. 165: "Stalin became Vassil[i]ev ..."
p. 166: "... the image of Stalin [in] a soldier's greatcoat ..."
ibid.: "Gossudarstvennyi"--should be "Gosudarstvennyi."
p. 168: "No man can jump over his shown shadow ..."--should be "his own shadow."
p. 169: "From that day Manstein became his direct superior, Paulus suffered ..."--should be "from the day."
p. 172: "... the fall of Kiev in the November." [delete 'the']
p. 173: Folio and the running head are missing.
ibid., also twice on p. 212: "Solovev"--should be "Soloviev" (compare with spelling in Bibliography, p. 428: "Solowiev" and "Solowiew"; it is the same name!).
p. 179: Delete "215" after the footnote reference 22.
p. 185: "As commander in chief of 9th Army his opinion was not even requested."--is grammar OK here?
p. 190: "... it will be a difficult [task?] to find an occasion ..." [alternatively, delete 'a']
p. 206: "... the Russian word BEPTEP, a den of brigands ..."--A den of brigands in Russian is "vertep," it has nothing to do with Goethe's Werther (Russian "Verter"). That 'den of brigands,' obviously, is yet another 'elaboration' which is wide of the mark.
p. 209, fn 118: "Tankvoye zrashrenye pod Prochorovkoi"--correct spelling and transliteration: "Tankovoye srazheniye pod Prokhorovkoy."
ibid., fn 120: "Dyelo vsey zhisni"--should be "zhizni."
p. 212: "Sokolev estimated ...", again "Sokolev" in fn 138--apparently, it's Soloviev again (fn 135 above). There is no Sokolev in Bibliography (if there was, it should have been "Sokolov").
p. 213: "... members of military 'resistance' ..."--why in quotation marks?
p. 217, fn 19: "... the numbers indicated ibn all sources ..."--should be "in all sources."
p. 218, fn 24: "Ibdid"--should be "Ibid" (ibi dem).
p. 219, fn 25: "Soldatenleben, p. [?]"
p. 226, fn 54: "Lagebsrpechungen"--should be "Lagebesprechungen" ("briefs"), correct spelling on p. 422, in the Bibliography.
p. 232: "... get out [of] OKH ..."
ibid.: "In January 1973, Zeitzler was still the National-Socialist chief of the Generalstab ..."--fortunately, he was not: should be 1943.
p. 235: The forth paragraph from the bottom of the page, starting with "In the video ..." is the author's comment; it should be separated from the rest of the quotation (with square brackets, perhaps, like it is done elsewhere in the book). Same on p. 241, second paragrpaph from the bottom: "Peter Hoffmann ... many knew much." is another comment not separated from the citation. Again on p. 322: "Given this 'definition' ... execution." is the author's comment to the quotation; and once more on the next page: "Streit emphasised ... military commanders." And again, p. 369: "As in the documents ... by 'resettled'."
p. 240: "Joachim Fest took them up again [in] his book ..."
p. 251: "... with 11th Army on the Crimea."--should be "in the Crimea" (again on p. 315: "... partisan danger increased on the Crimea ..."; p. 355: "He had acted on the Crimea ..."; p. 364: "The partisans on the Crimea ...").
p. 255: "Seaton expressed himself in a similar vein [in] his work ..."
p. 257: "Krasnaya Sviezda"--should be "Zviezda."
ibid., fn 31: "Ot zhimnego dvorca do kremlyovskoy steni. Ocherkyi sovietskoy istoryi ot 1917 do nashich dneyi"--should be "Ot Zimnego dvortsa do Kremlyovskoy steny: Ocherki sovietskoy istorii ot 1917 do nashikh dney."
p. 268: "... by a decree of the Convenant"--should be "National Convention" or "Convention."
p. 269: "Sampolit"--should be "Zampolit."
p. 278: "A general 'orders', he does not 'express' wishes."--why quotation marks?
p. 283: "... it must be said again [in] defence of Manstein ..."
p. 286: "I 'personally' do not believe ..."--why quotation marks?
p. 288, fn 10: "Die Truppe des WeltanschauungskriEinsatzgruppees."--should be "Weltanschauungskrieges" (correct spelling on p. 424).
p. 290: "Kichinev" ("Kichinew" on p. 342)--English transliteration is Kishinev (or Chisinau, as it's spelled in Modlova).
p. 291: "... no one in German[y] had any knowledge ..."
p. 305, fn 72: "Madison 194"--should be 1964.
p. 318: "... the German Federal [Re]public forbade ..."
p. 319: "... Manstein became one of the active 'perpetrators' of the genocide."--if he did, why quotation marks?
p. 325: "... as an ally of Czarist Russia."--why Czarist in italics?
p. 328: "... was not persona grata, ie a welcome guest ..."--yet another 'elaboration' for a dumb English reader?
p. 330: "Kuchler"--should be "Küchler," with umlaut.
p. 338: "Wöhler felt that he was entitled to order Ohlendorf around, and that Ohlendorf had to remain [in?] total respect of his military rank."--grammar?
p. 341: "Czernovits"--German transliteration is Czernowitz, English--Chernovtsy.
p. 352: "Kachovka"--preferrably, Kakhovka.
p. 364: Yet another example of helpful 'elaboration': "... the nimbus, ie the cloud over the German Generalstab ..." Should be 'halo,' perhaps, like over a head of a saint?
p. 369: "Motorized Gendarmerie Unit 683 reported had already reported ..." [delete the first 'reported']
p. 371: "Dchanskoy"--correct German spelling is Dschankoj, English--Dzhankoy.
p. 373: "... many suspicious elements remain [in] the city ..."
p. 374: "Bakhtiassaray"--should be Bakhchisaray (correct German transliteration is Bachtschyssaraj).
p. 387-388: It would be nice to 'elaborate' here, and translate German poems.

If this of any consolation, I have yet to see either an English or an American publication which cites Russian books, articles and archived documents without errors: Helion is not unique in that matter.

Lesser, but still irritating, annoyances: Footnotes--either with period in the end, or without, not both. Abbreviation of "ibi dem"--either with a period (ibid.) or without. There should be, throughout, a space (or consistently no space) between initials and a surname; between 'p.' or 'vol.' and the following number; and, in a sentence, after a comma; also, space needed before opening brackets.

Still more errors could be found in the Bibliography and in the Index, but enough is enough.

Have an editor and a proofreader even touched this book?

Very professional indeed. Thank you, Helion & Company!

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