Wednesday 12 May 2010

Panzer Division: The Mailed Fist

I've just finished this book that I picked up from a military book stall some time ago. Its an old edition and maybe lacks some of the nuance that is expected in more recent works. However it was written within a reasonable period ofter the war and in some ways that gives the text a freshness that can be lost in often sterile modern history books.

If you want an overview of WWII from the armoured perspective you could do worse than this book. It sweeps through the broad concepts and events of the war in a clear and concise way and refrains from drawing conclusions on the historical facts. This lack of bias makes this a good place to start your research. It also makes for a remarkable detached and objective assessment of the success or otherwise of Nazi Germany's infamous Panzer Divisions.

I found it fast paced and easy to read yet detailed enough that I learned several new things from this book. The illustrations and pictures in the book work well to complement the narrative although some of the photographs are of poor quality. Unlike other books I have read this volume avoids long lists of statistics and instead tries to present a general summary of facts and events that gives a clear feeling for the situation on the ground.

Published by Ballantine in 1973 there are still copies in circulation. At the time of writing this I have found several copies available on eBay and with other military history booksellers. I picked up my copy from Lanchester Books (at Military Odyssey) for a pound and consider that very good value for money indeed.

Kenneth Macksey (1923-2005) was a well respected military author and drew heavily on his experience as a Tanker in WWII. He served under Percy Hobart who devised specialised armoured vehicles - known as Hobart's Funnies - for participation in the invasion of Normandy. Macksey won the Military Cross for his actions in Normandy before being injured. He finished the war with the rank of Major. He later went on to write several biographies of key figures in the development of Armoured tactics including Guderian, Rommel and Kesselring.

Title: Panzer Division (Paperback)
Author: Kenneth Macksey
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books(Nov 1976)
Language: English

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