Backlog Military History Reading List – Part 1

2016_01_08_books_2As promised earlier, here’s the first part of the 2016 reading plan, along with a short blurb as to why each book made the cut.

After all, there will still be a backlog of books when 2017 rolls around. I know I’ll add to this as the year goes on, so if you have any recommendations for new military history books, please send them my way! Anyway, here’s part one, in which you may detect a Kursk theme:

  1. Stalin’s Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin: Volume 1: January 1943-June 1944 by Igor Nebolsin — This is the only Soviet unit history I’ve ever seen in English and is part of the Russian language scholarship on the Great Patriotic War that is finally making its way into English. Other books that have made the cut for English language translation have been very promising The Viaz’ma Catastrophe and Demolishing the Myth are some examples). FINISHED – Review Pending

  2. The Battle of Kursk By David M. Glantz and Jonathan M. House — This is still the best single volume history of the entire battle, covering both the fighting on both the northern and southern shoulders of the salient. My last read was almost a decade ago, so I thought a review before diving into the next two books might be in order. FINISHED – Review Pending

  3. Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrative by Valeriy Zamulin — The author was a staff member of the Prokhorovka Battlefield State Museum and published in Russia in 2005. This is one of the primary current references on Prokhorovka, containing insights about the terrain and how it influenced the fighting found nowhere else.

  4. Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka by Christopher A. Lawrence — The big book of Prokhorovka which contains a wealth of detail not found in other books on Kursk.  Every division fighting gets a level of focus normally reserved for GD and the SS divisions.

  5. Guns Against the Reich: Memoirs of an Artillery Officer on the Eastern Front by Petr Mikhin — This is one of the better memoirs to come out of Russia lately, written by an artillery officer that fought at Kursk.

  6. Decision in the Ukraine, Summer 1943: II. SS and III. Panzerkorps by George M. Nipe — This is Nipe’s second book, following Last Victory in Russia: The SS-Panzerkorps and Manstein’s Kharkov Counteroffensive, February-March 1943 and preceding Blood, Steel and Myth: The II.SS-Panzer-Korps and the Road to Prochorowka. The book covers the fighting at Prokhorovka, but also deals with the fighting along the Mius river which followed immediately afterwards. The SS love is strong, but it covers territory otherwise neglected in English.

  7. Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War by F .W. Von Mellenthin – This is one of the standard post war German accounts of fighting on the Eastern Front and it’s been a while since I read it. I’m very interested to see how it’s aged in light of more recent scholarship.

  8. Red Army Tank Commanders: The Armored Guards by Richard N. Armstrong — This is a set of biographical essays about the generals that would lead Red Army Tank Armies to victory, sort of a who’s who of Soviet armored leadership.

  9. The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze — I discovered this book through reading David Stahel’s series of books on Barbarossa here, here, here and here. My good friend Bill Pilon (his highly recommended book blog is here) then hooked me up with a copy, so it seems I’m fated to tackle this one.

  10. Panzer Tactics: German Small-Unit Armor Tactics in World War II by Wolfgang Schneider — I acquired this in one of Amazon’s periodic $0.99 kindle book sales, which haven’t helped with reducing the book backlog! It’s a study of German armor doctrine at the company and battalion level, which will provide some context to the armor clashes and the large positive exchange ratios the Germans managed in 1943.


Beyond this list there are are three books I’d like to pick up to supplement the Kursk theme and two more I’d love to get a hold of at some point.

And the two books for the longer term:

  • Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis by Anders Frankson and Niklas Zetterling — This is a numbers and analysis book rather than a narrative history, so appeals to my numbers geek / conflict simulation side. It’s an important cornerstone to the current round of Kursk reinterpretation, although much of its analysis is incorporated into more recent books.
  • The Battle for Kursk 1943: The Soviet General Staff Study by David M. Glantz and Harold S. Orenstein — One of the series of translated Soviet General Staff studies on various operations of the Great Patriotic War, this as an honest assessment of the fighting as the Soviets saw it.If I’m missing any appropriate books, let me know!