Item description for MEN OF STEEL: 1st SS Panzer Corps 1944-45 by Michael Reynolds...
This authoritative account completes the history of the only Panzer Divisions to bear Hitler's name - 1st and 12th SS - as they lead the last German offensives of the war - through the Ardennes in December 1944 and in Hungary two months later and it concludes with their capitulation and captivity in Austria in May 1945.
Men of Steel traces the origins, formation and early history of I SS Panzer Corps.
Packed with detail it covers the German retreat from Normandy to the West Wall, the Leibstandarte and Hitlerjugend Panzer Divisions' crucial part in the 'Battle of the Bulge', Jochen Peiper's dash for the Meuse, the 'Malmedy Massacre', the 'Battle of the Twin Villages', Bastogne, the elimination of the Gran Bridgehead in Hungary, February 1945, Hitler's last gamble on the Eastern Front-the 'Lake Balaton' offensive, the attempt to stem the Soviet 'Tide from the East', the last desperate battles to defend the Greater German Reich and the final capitulation to the Americans.
It also includes information on the units's captivity and war crimes.
Illustrated with rare photographs, many high quality maps and appendices.
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Reviews - What do customers think about MEN OF STEEL: 1st SS Panzer Corps 1944-45?
Perfect book Jan 7, 2008
The best book about the LSSAH (1st SS Division)and the 12th SS Divsion "Hitlerjugend". The British Army admires it, many the best world historians and WW2 experts admire it, so there should be no question about reliability of this book. You can find every single thing about the history of those 2 SS Divisions. This is probably the best book about the 1st SS Panzer Corps you can buy. This book is highly usefull not only for people interested in just reading about history, but also modelars can find it extremely useful when trying to make a diarama or preparing a battle simulation with their models. This book has information about all officers of those 2 Divisions (from lieutenant to the highest officers), all engagements on both Eastern and Western front, numbers of casualties, reinfocements and strength of units through the war. I have not found anything missing in this book. It is great work, both in style of writing and also in research that had to be done. Everybody interested in WW2 should have this book at home. It is worth much more than 20 dollars.
Could not make it half way through! Jul 19, 2007
I have never read a book where the story went absolutely no where. I made it through 100 pages and that was it. There is no story to this story. All the book talks about is the tanks, equipment and personnel in the battles in waaaay to much detail. You can hardly tell what battle you are in until he writes and this is the way that the "Battle of So and So" ended. There are plenty of maps in the back of the book that are no help at all. It is very rare that I will not finish a book from start to finish, but this is one of them.
Interesting book, but biased Dec 12, 2002
Reynolds' wrote Men of Steel by distilling German histories of the I SS Panzer Corps, US Army AAR's, other published sources, and a few personal interviews and trips. In other words, it's more a compilation of what's out there than a book shedding light on unknown corners of WW2 (a la David Glantz's books). In any event, its an interesting book, because you can follow things through the German perspective.
There are three problems with the book. The larger problem is that Reynolds implies the SS atrocities were no big deal. He mentions many times where the LAH murdered surrendered US soldiers and Belgian civilians, but gives a few US examples. I think, after "Citizen Soldiers" and "Saving Private Ryan", we all understand not every German trying to surrender made it to a POW camp. However, Reynolds' examples include the shooting of a German prisoner trying to escape, the death of a tanker bailing out his tank in the middle of a battle, and the mistaken grenading of Belgian civilians by a green US soldier (and the survivors were all immediately given medical attention). These "c'est la guerre" examples don't come close to the organized murder of prisoners at Malmady (which Reynolds treats strangely as well). The other problem is that US formations smaller than a regiment and Soviet formations smaller than a division are typically not named in the text, and a footnote identifies the unit. This is just annoying. Lastly, there are many cases where the US AARs and German histories don't match up. Sometimes Reynolds presents all sources and says "decide". Sometime Reynolds copies the US AAR but says "this is definitely wrong". If a source is wrong, it's better for him to omit it, and write what his research and analysis say was the actual course of events.
With those caveats, it's an interesting book, and a good counterpoint to the US-centered WW2 histories we're used to reading.
This is WWII history from the SS point of view... Sep 4, 2002
"Men of Steel" basically presents a sympathetic summary of unit actions of the 1st and 12th SS Divisions during the late war. In fact, the author acknowledges his reliance upon German unit histories and how impressed he is with their excellence. You won't find balanced viewpoints or much in the way of supporting details from other sources in this book.
Perhaps due to his background as a British soldier, the author openly admires the professional expertise of these SS elite military units. Unfortunately, he lets his admiration of SS military prowess taint his presentation of events.
I got the feeling that Mr. Reynolds was overly driven by a need to state his opinions, rather than present information and analyses that lead the reader to his own conclusions. The book is crammed with footnotes that don't illuminate the text. The author has lots of strong opinions about the motiviations of battle particpants and what must have happened, but the footnoted sources don't particularly support them.
There is also little objective analysis or information regarding US actions to put the actions of the SS divisions in perspective. Here you will find "fleeing" GI's racing to the rear during the early days of the Battle of the Bulge. No mention is made that most of these were support units ordered to the rear from the front lines, which was a sensible precaution at the time. The author equates initial confusion on the US side to uncontrolled fear or cowardice, where other books document the record of US individual and unit bravery against great odds along a 60-mile front from Monshau to Echternach.
The author brings up the subject of SS atrocities, but then largely dismisses them as an unfortunate by-product of all armies. The SS murders of unarmed civilians and US prisioners at Malmedy, Ligneuville, Stavelot, and Honsfeld are mentioned only in passing with the casual observation that Allied units killed prisoners too.
The difference between the random acts of US soldiers (who were violating official US military policy) and SS soldiers who were following official Nazi policy (and receiving awards for doing so) is never explored. This is odd since the author does explain how these SS units were originally formed to carry out official Nazi doctrine, which included killing people who did not fit into government and military plans. These SS units had already demonstrated their dedication to implementing such Nazi policies on the eastern front.
Mr. Reynolds even laments the murder of SS soldiers caught by partisans as a shameful act upon professional soldiers. One wonders how he would react if his family and friends had been under Nazi occupation enforced by SS brutality for 4 years. Wartime atrocities are horrible on all sides, but the SS certainly reaped what it sowed on both the eastern and western fronts. This typed of one-sided viewpoint makes the reader question the author's ability to fairly analyze the events covered by his book.
Finally, this book is pretty boring to read. It has the same slow pace as scholarly fact-based books, yet is filled with enough suppositions and personal opinions to make Stephen Ambrose blush. Controversial opinions are fair game in a book, but dull reading should at least yield more solid information.
"Men of Steel" is okay if you simply want quick background on these SS divisions during the late war. But be sure to read the books of professional historians such as Charles MacDonald and Hugh Cole to get some balance on what really occurred during the timeframe covered. Not only are they cheaper and more informative, they are a much better reading experience.
Buy it Jun 30, 2002
I am very glad I gave this a chance, because I have not read any of Michael Reynold's previous works, and from the outside, this appeared to be pretty dry reading. Not so.
This is an excellent overview of the ISS PK and their operations during the latest stages of the war. Michael Reynold's is extremely objective in this, letting the reader form his own opinions and even encouraging creative thought if the the details of a given battle arent fully recorded. It is extremely well researched, and an absolutely indispensable tool for learning about the the 1 and 12SS Panzer Divisions.
Men of Steel gradually shows how the two panzer divisions became intertwined and eventually fought less as a Corps, and more as a single division they worked so closely.
I really cant wait to pick up Reynold's other works. And wish I had read the first book in the history of the 1SS Panzer Corps in Normandy before this... Definetly pick it up and enjoy.