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Worst WWII Book?

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  • Member since
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Worst WWII Book?
Posted by Chrisk-k on Friday, July 17, 2015 9:47 AM

I recently finished reading "Tiger Tracks" by Wolfgang Faust.  It's a memoir of Faust, who was the driver of a Tiger in the Eastern Front.  Instead, it reads like a terrible novel.  In fact, it's so bad that it's entertaining. 

In 1943, Faust's Tiger fought with wave after wave of the JS-2 tank, which was not produced in 1943.  His commander Helmann kept a Russian female POW in the Tiger during combats.  Helmann repeatedly kicked Faust's shoulders during combats, which is humanly impossible given the Tiger's structure.  Faust accurately described air combat after air combat that he witnessed through the driving slit.  The non-sense goes on and on.   

A so-called WWII memoir cannot get worse than this. 

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  • From: Houston, Texas
Posted by panzerpilot on Friday, July 17, 2015 9:59 AM

'Frontsoldaten' by Stephen Fritz was difficult to not put down. The prose was rambling. A long string of quotes and references. I never did finish that one.

-Tom

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Posted by the doog on Friday, July 17, 2015 10:17 AM

"Tiger Ace: The Life Story of Panzer Commander Michael Wittmann" by Gary L. Simpson is also epically-bad, I actually wrote to the publisher to ask them to please have a proofreader go through it before a second printing. Run-off sentences, incomplete phrases; I mean, it was like it had been translated from Chinese or something.

  • Member since
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  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Friday, July 17, 2015 11:23 AM

Chrisk-k

I recently finished reading "Tiger Track" by Wolfgang Faust.  It's a memoir of Faust, who was the driver of a Tiger in the Eastern Front.  Instead, it reads like a terrible novel.  In fact, it's so bad that it's entertaining. 

In 1943, Faust's Tiger fought with wave after wave of the JS-2 tank, which was not produced in 1943.  His commander Helmann kept a Russian female POW in the Tiger during combats.  Helmann repeatedly kicked Faust's shoulders during combats, which is humanly impossible given the Tiger's structure.  Faust accurately described air combat after air combat that he witnessed through the driving slit.  The non-sense goes on and on.   

A so-called WWII memoir cannot get worse than this. 

Lol! Was he there when Germany attacked Pearl Habor??? 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

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Posted by GMorrison on Friday, July 17, 2015 2:00 PM

I thought Boyington's memoir was poorly written, pretty tedious.

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  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Friday, July 17, 2015 2:03 PM

the doog

"Tiger Ace: The Life Story of Panzer Commander Michael Wittmann" by Gary L. Simpson is also epically-bad, I actually wrote to the publisher to ask them to please have a proofreader go through it before a second printing. Run-off sentences, incomplete phrases; I mean, it was like it had been translated from Chinese or something.

I had that book on my shopping list. Thanks for the heads up.

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Posted by Chrisk-k on Friday, July 17, 2015 2:20 PM

Another awesome part from Tiger Tracks: Faust described in detail how an 88mm AP shell fired by his Tiger was ricocheting inside a T-34 turret, destroying everything in there.  He must have been born with slo-mo vision.

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  • From: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
Posted by Bish on Friday, July 17, 2015 2:43 PM

Seems your not the only one who has doubt Chris. I found this review on the book.

http://weaponsman.com/?p=22319

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  • From: AandF in the Badger State
Posted by checkmateking02 on Friday, July 17, 2015 3:02 PM

Almost anything by Charles Whiting.  

I was reading his "West Wall" series years ago, and found them seriously "lacking."

Dead

  

Alifero tollitur axe ceres

 

 

 

  • Member since
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Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Friday, July 17, 2015 3:02 PM
Faust writes, "I lost track of time in that fight, with my head spinning from the amphetamines and my body unaware of pain..." Amphetamines might account for the slo-mo vision Chris referred to above and some of the other cinematic recollections of the author.
  • Member since
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Posted by Chrisk-k on Friday, July 17, 2015 6:02 PM

Hmm....very interesting.  Amphetamines can lead to delusions.  I recall Faust once took a mix of morphine and amphetamines.  That must have been one hell of a drug.  

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  • From: Houston, Texas
Posted by panzerpilot on Friday, July 17, 2015 6:17 PM

Chrisk-k

Hmm....very interesting.  Amphetamines can lead to delusions.  I recall Faust once took a mix of morphine and amphetamines.  That must have been one hell of a drug.  

Yep. That's a primary reason the German troops could march so far and so fast. It was called Pervitin, ie. speed. It may also be why 'some' atrocities were committed along the way. That stuff makes you mad! High command handed it out like candy.

-Tom

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  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Friday, July 17, 2015 7:03 PM

Chrisk-k

Hmm....very interesting.  Amphetamines can lead to delusions.  I recall Faust once took a mix of morphine and amphetamines.  That must have been one hell of a drug.  

Reminds me of a PBS tv series Secrets of the Dead program called: " Day of the Zulu " about the Battle of Isandlwana.
The show included a very interesting chemical analysis of the types of plants given to Zulu warriors before the battle.
The interview with a modern Zulu witchdoctor about Zulu warrior behavior during the battle was especially entertaining.
  • Member since
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  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:35 AM

I read a book about the Bismarck eons ago called the "Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story"

by Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg. He was, if I recall correctly, an officer of some rank in the Bruno turret, and one of 111 survivors. The exploits of the Bismark's crew trying to evade the British searches were interesting. I'm sure there were some embellishments but all in all, I really enjoyed it.

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Posted by GMorrison on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:04 PM

That was a good book IMO. I found it in a used book store some months back and read it in one sitting.

Then of course a bunch of online reading about the guy, I'd never heard of him before as I hadn't spent much time on that particular story. He was the senior officer to survive, I don't remember his rank but he was up there enough to interact with the Captain, and to a limited degree the Admiral.

There's a pretty poignant stretch in her last full day, they've eluded their pursuers and are whereabouts unknown, things are calm, and they entertain numerous plans to remove the stuck rudder, get under tow behind a U Boat, save the ships war diary by setting it adrift in a floatplane, and so on.

Another interesting fact was that the Bismark had several hundred hand picked able bodied seamen aboard in addition the the ships crew, to serve as prize crews on captured ships. How quaint. Among the most experienced and capable deck hands in the DKM, they were all lost.

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  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:26 PM

GM,

I figured you and/or Mr Tilley would have read that book. I'm glad you liked it and my memory was good enough to recommend it.

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  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:36 AM

I was not impressed with Stephan Ambrose's book on the B-24 squadron, Band of Brothers was, I believe, the title.  I liked his other books but that one was a let-down.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:53 AM

"The Wild Blue"

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  • From: Boise ID area
Posted by modelcrazy on Thursday, July 23, 2015 10:27 AM

GMorrison
"The Wild Blue"

Good, bad or was that the book Don was talking about?

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Thursday, July 23, 2015 10:36 AM

modelcrazy

GMorrison
"The Wild Blue"

Good, bad or was that the book Don was talking about?

Sorry! I think that's the book Don was referring to, as I know neither he nor anyone else would consider "Band of Brothers" a bad book.

I haven't read "The Wild Blue".

  • Member since
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  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:48 AM
Don Stauffer

I was not impressed with Stephan Ambrose's book on the B-24 squadron, Band of Brothers was, I believe, the title.  I liked his other books but that one was a let-down.

Yes, that was "The Wild Blue". I also thought that the book was indeed a letdown. As well written as any of his other stuff, but the basic story to keep hold of you just wasn't there.

 

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N is for NO SURVIVORS...

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  • From: Greenville, NC
Posted by jtilley on Thursday, July 23, 2015 3:51 PM

The books Ambrose wrote in his last years are kind of problematic. I think I have a higher opinion of The WIld Blue than Don does, but I don't think anybody would suggest that it's the best thing Ambrose wrote.

He had an interesting writing career. He started out as a full-time professional academic (he had a Ph.D. in history), and I happen to like some of his earlier books. (I can't claim to have read all of them.) His biography of Emory Upton is the best thing available on that important military thinker. I like Ambrose's history of West Point, though I wish it had been bigger and more thorough. I've been assigning his Crazy Horse and Custer in my "American military history to 1900" course for almost twenty years now. I think it does a fine, respectful job of describing Native American culture (the author is a big fan of Crazy Horse), without lapsing into sixties-type romanticism (or vilifying Custer, or the U.S. Army). I have the impression that Ambrose's multi-volume biography of Eisenhower is respected as the best on the subject. And I certainly like his book on the Normandy Invasion.

In his later years Ambrose became more of a "popular" writer, with all the good and bad that phrase implies. He started getting big contracts (with hefty advance payments) from big commercial publishers. Those people demand that books be written for big audiences, and to deadlines. (Universities, for better or worse, usually don't. If a professor publishes three or four books in his career, that's considered pretty daggone good. Ambrose published twenty-four.) A lot of academics noted that Ambrose's work was becoming a bit...well, slipshod. I think another problem was that as he got richer, and was constantly confronted by deadlines, he turned over more and more of his work to graduate assistants, and simply quit spending as much time on each of his books than he would have earlier in his career.

Near the end of Ambrose's career some people started accusing him of plagiarism. Many of the examples the critics got had to do with small sentences and word combinations; I suspect the aforementioned sloppiness and over-reliance on grad students were behind most of the alleged instances of plagiarism. I don't think Ambrose was trying deliberately to steal anything.

In cases like this I have to wonder how a particular scholar's reputation would have been affected if he hadn't stayed on the job quite as long as he did. I think Samuel Eliot Morison fell prey to that difficulty, and I think Ambrose did too. Morison's place in the history of the profession would be perfectly solid if he'd quit writing sometime in the early fifties, before writing his biography of John Paul Jones, and Ambrose's reputation would be more secure if he hadn't written The WIld Blue.

But that doesn't mean I think he was a bad historian.

Youth, talent, hard work, and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

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  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Thursday, July 23, 2015 7:41 PM

Speaking of Stephen E. Ambrose.............................

Upon viewing the World at War  tv series on DVD 25 years after first broadcast,  I think I would have liked to have seen some of his 1990s book covers use photos of him taken during the early 1970s.Wink

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  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:01 PM

LOL! You mean the 70s new era professor look?

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Thursday, July 23, 2015 8:50 PM

Oh, Yeah ! 

Shoulder length blond hair .Big Smile

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  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:05 PM

Early 1970s history professors

new school

old school (not Ambrose, but emblematic of the change)

Wink

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • From: Illinois: Hive of Scum and Villany
Posted by Sprue-ce Goose on Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:14 PM

stikpusher

old school (not Ambrose, but emblematic of the change)

Wink

LOL............one of my favorite scenes !Stick out tongue
  • Member since
    October, 2018
Posted by Dutchman on Thursday, October 11, 2018 5:02 PM

There are things in the book that are clearly exageration, but  you comment on the 88mm shell are off base.  I did armor design for the US Army and we actually shot hulls.    When we have this kind of a penetration the effect is stunning and you could see the effect.   There was a test we did using sheep and there was nothing left but ground meat when the 105 mm shell stopped.  One of the rules of amor design is to keep the small stuff out, trap the spaul (metal fragments) and make sure the high velocity heavy rounds go straight through.   

I hesitate to comment on the rest.  Kicking the drivers in the shoulders was a trained method the German Army in case the intercom failed.    The Tigers I have seen do allow it, but I don't know for certain.  

The Stalin JS 1 tanks were in service then and the first uses were to capture critical river crossings after Kursk.  they had a massive 128(?) mm gun which actually was not particularly good.  Slow firing using separate shell and cartridge with a moderate muzzle velocity.   It had huge impact with high explosives, but the Germans found they could put 3-4 rounds on a JS tank  for every one they fired.    They were also difficult to aim and the tank had to stop to fire with any accuracy.  They were used more for attacking strong points with bunkers, but they were also used in mass to take out Tigers.  November 1943 is about the time the first ones were used so it could be valid.   

My neighbor growing up  was an interesting man.  He was Colonel Tibbets' B-17 tail gunner in Europe and had very interesting stories.   He had an employee who fought for 4 years on the ostfront as a panzer Grendadier (Barbarrosa, Moscow, Leningrad, Crimea, Kursk, and the retreat to Germany) and was one of only 2 men who survived the war from their original regiment (about 1800 men).  His stories particularly of late 1943 included defending two river crossings were in fact similar to Tiger Tracks story.  He said 1943 was the most savage when the Germans were still trying to hold the line.  My older brother who is West Point and armor (commanded the point company of the Tiger brigade, for the Marine drive on Kuwait City in the Gulf War).  His descriptions of what happened to Iraqi tanks is in fact similar.    Fact is no one alive today actually knows what  happened in russia.  One point though that bears note.  The units at that time that had large numbers of Tigers were SS.  There is no reference to what type of unit it was, but supposedly  Faust shot a Bristish prisoner in Sicily and there were documented cases of that with SS there.  Several heavy armor units were transfered from Italy to Russia in September/October to try and stop the Russian advances after Kursk.  So this might be at least partially true and it is possible.

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  • From: Sunny So. Cal... The OC
Posted by stikpusher on Friday, October 12, 2018 6:30 PM

Dutchman

  

I hesitate to comment on the rest.  Kicking the drivers in the shoulders was a trained method the German Army in case the intercom failed.    The Tigers I have seen do allow it, but I don't know for certain.  

  

For a Tiger commander to kick a driver in the shoulder would require him to leave his position at the left rear of the turret, get past the gunner seated below and in front of him, and then be able to kick forward to the driver seated at the left front of the hull. Not exactly something you’d want to do in the heat of combat to lose situational awareness. Now he could easily kick the gunners shoulders to traverse right or left...

Looking at this cutaway view, anybody trying to kick the drivers shoulder would have to be quite the contortionist.

 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

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  • From: Vancouver, the "wet coast"
Posted by castelnuovo on Sunday, October 14, 2018 1:32 PM

the doog

"Tiger Ace: The Life Story of Panzer Commander Michael Wittmann" by Gary L. Simpson is also epically-bad, I actually wrote to the publisher to ask them to please have a proofreader go through it before a second printing. Run-off sentences, incomplete phrases; I mean, it was like it had been translated from Chinese or something.

Agree with this. I tried to red it, it was like reading a series of statements that may or may not be connected.

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