The German Way of War – A Lesson in Tactical Management written by Jaap Jan Brouwer and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 240

The German Army lost two consecutive wars and the conclusion is often drawn that it simply wasn’t able to cope with its opponents. This image is constantly reinforced in literature and in the media, where seemingly brainless operating German units led by fanatical officers predominate. Nothing was as far from the truth. The records show that the Germans consistently outfought the far more numerous Allied armies that eventually defeated them: their relative battlefield performance was at least 1.5 and in most cases 3 times as high as that of its opponents.

The central question in this book is why the German Army had a so much higher relative battlefield performance than the opposition. A central element within the Prussian/German Army is Auftragstaktik, a tactical management concept that dates from the middle of the nineteenth century and is still very advanced in terms of management and organization.

Using more than fifty examples to illustrate the realities of the battlefield, from North Africa to Arnhem and the Hürtgen Forest, the author explains why the Prussian/German Army was such an unprecedented powerful fighting force. And why Auftragstaktik – under other guises – is still the basic form of operation for many European armies, with even the US Army introducing certain elements of Auftragstaktik into its organization, more than 150 years after its conception.

This was a fascinating book looking at the way the German Army went about training its units and men but not the basics, it was interested in psychology and finding the right men in order to get the most out of them. It’s no surprise to find the German Army was like this as there is a dominant thought today that German workers work comprehensively and well and why German products are manufactured to the nth degree. The book is supported by about 50 case examples which really do prove the point of the book, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t how most armies or even businesses work now in order to get the best from their workers. I would say that if you are interested in World War Two history, this would be an important book that you might otherwise have passed over. It really does show how a decent army could be the best army. This is a book I would certainly recommend to everyone. Certainly ideal for a student of history. I must say the blog post on the Pen & Sword website was also excellent.

By Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.