Conventional wisdom holds that the battle began in February 1916 and lasted until December, when the victorious French wrested all the territory they had lost back from the Germans. In fact, says historian John Mosier, from the very beginning of the war until the armistice in 1918, no fewer than eight distinct battles were waged for the possession of Verdun. These conflicts are largely unknown, even in France, owing to the obsessive secrecy of the French high command and its energetic propaganda campaign to fool the world into thinking that the war on the Western Front was a steady series of German checks and defeats.
Although British historians have always seen Verdun as a one-year battle designed by the German chief of staff to bleed France white, Mosier’s careful analysis of the German plans reveals a much more abstract and theoretical approach.
Our understanding of Verdun has long been mired in myths, false assumptions, propaganda, and distortions. Now, using numerous accounts of military analysts, serving officers, and eyewitnesses, including French sources that have never been translated, Mosier offers a compelling reassessment of the Great War’s most important battle.
Acclaimed for his revisionist history of the German Army in World War I, John Mosier continues his pioneering work in Cross of Iron, offering an intimate portrait of the twentieth-century German army from its inception, through World War I and the interwar years, to World War II and its climax in 1945.
World War I has inspired a vast mythology of bravery and carnage, told largely by the victors, that has fascinated readers for decades. Many have come to believe that the fast ascendancy of the Allied army, matched by the failure of a German army shackled by its rigidity, led to the war's outcome. Mosier demystifies the strategic and tactical realities to explain that it was Germany's military culture that provided it with the advantage in the first war. Likewise, Cross of Iron offers stunning revelations regarding the weapons of World War II, forcing a reevaluation of the reasons behind the French withdrawal, the Russian contribution, and Hitler as military thinker. Mosier lays to rest the notion that the army, as opposed to the SS, fought a clean and traditional war. Finally, he demonstrates how the German war machine succeeded against more powerful Allied armies until, in both wars, it was crushed by U.S. intervention.
The result of thirty years of primary research, Cross of Iron is a powerful and authoritative reinterpretation of Germany at war.
The military myths of World War II were based on the assumption that the new technology of the airplane and the tank would cause rapid and massive breakthroughs on the battlefield, or demoralization of the enemy by intensive bombing resulting in destruction, or surrender in a matter of weeks. The two apostles for these new theories were the Englishman J.C.F. Fuller for armoured warfare, and the Italian Emilio Drouhet for airpower. Hitler, Rommel, von Manstein, Montgomery and Patton were all seduced by the breakthrough myth or blitzkrieg as the decisive way to victory.
Mosier shows how the Polish campaign in fall 1939 and the fall of France in spring 1940 were not the blitzkrieg victories as proclaimed. He also reinterprets Rommel's North African campaigns, D–Day and the Normandy campaign, Patton's attempted breakthrough into the Saar and Germany, Montgomery's flawed breakthrough at Arnhem, and Hitler's last desperate breakthrough effort to Antwerp in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. All of these actions saw the clash of the breakthrough theories with the realities of conventional military tactics, and Mosier's novel analysis of these campaigns, the failure of airpower, and the military leaders on both sides, is a challenging reassessment of the military history of World War II. The book includes maps and photos.
Deathride argues that the Soviet losses in World War II were unsustainable and would eventually have led to defeat. The Soviet Union had only twice the population of Germany at the time, but it was suffering a casualty rate more than two and a half times the German rate. Because Stalin had a notorious habit of imprisoning or killing anyone who brought him bad news (and often their families as well), Soviet battlefield reports were fantasies, and the battle plans Soviet generals developed seldom responded to actual circumstances. In this respect the Soviets waged war as they did everything else: through propaganda rather than actual achievement. What saved Stalin was the Allied decision to open the Mediterranean theater. Once the Allies threatened Italy, Hitler was forced to withdraw his best troops from the eastern front and redeploy them. In addition, the Allies provided heavy vehicles that the Soviets desperately needed and were unable to manufacture themselves. It was not the resources of the Soviet Union that defeated Hitler but the resources of the West.
In this provocative revisionist analysis of the war between Hitler and Stalin, Mosier provides a dramatic, vigorous narrative of events as he shows how most previous histories accepted Stalin’s lies and distortions to produce a false sense of Soviet triumph. Deathride is the real story of the Eastern Front, fresh and different from what we thought we knew.