Stephen Karlson (shkarlson) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Stephen Karlson


Nothing fascinates military historians like "what if," particularly if it's speculating about the bad guys winning. Thus How Hitler Could Have Won World War II. Book Review No. 22 will be auf Englisch. Some of the German errors are familiar: Hitler stopping the armour with the British and French bottled up at Dunkirk, whether with hopes of negotiating a separate peace with the British or as a favour to Hermann Goering, Hitler ordering three fronts into the USSR, leaving insufficient forces to invest Moscow and force the Soviet government to flee east of the Urals before winter came, the complete failure of German thinking in the Mediterranean, where author Bevin Alexander argues Malta was much more important than Crete, and that giving Erwin Rommel his head and free rein to capture the Suez Canal en route to the former British colonial oilfields in Iraq, a linkup with Reza Shah, who fancied himself an Aryan, and a linkup with the Japanese in India, bypassing the Soviet Union completely.

I'm not familiar enough with the arguments to be able to evaluate the author's claim that the Soviet Union could have been isolated without a single German boot in the workers' paradise, or that the North Africa - Suez - Asia Minor - India strategy would have fractured the British Empire and crippled the Royal Navy by splitting the fleets, let alone that such an approach would have kept the United States out of Germany's war. Perhaps more space devoted to such claims and less space devoted to Sicily, Italy, Normandy, and the Ardennes (by which time the outcome in western Europe was settled) would help the casual reader. The analysis of those western campaigns is similarly sketchy. For example, Mr Alexander suggests that a different deployment of German armour, with two fast panzer divisions waiting behind the limited number of landing sites within fighter range of England, including several ports and the Normandy landing sites, would have enabled the Germans to react more rapidly and more effectively to the landings, wherever they came. Perhaps so. On the other hand, the Germans might then be less able to flood fields in order to drown paratroopers and discourage glider landings, or their tank parks might have attracted a lot more air attention in the two months before the invasion, or the idea of using aircraft carriers as air-to-tank launching platforms. I'm sure other quibbles have occurred to people more versed in such things than I. The book's coverage prevents more substantive discussion of such things. The footnotes provide additional documentation of facts and analyses offered in the book: there is neither survey of the controversies nor anticipation nor debate of differing points of view.
(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops).
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