Barbarossa by Alan Clark
This came out in 1965 - but now counts as ancient history I suppose. It should prove excellent grounding for my glorious forthcoming victories in WITE2
Fortunately as my copy of the WITE2 manual is probably still stuck in the Suez canal, my offensive is delayed - a curiously appropriate occurrence.
Some historians hate it but here is a review from Goodreads:
Barbarossa by Alan Clark was published over half a century ago and is still a classic of the Nazi / Soviet military struggle on the Eastern Front. Don't let the title fool you. This account is much more than just the initial invasion of Russia by the Wehrmacht. It recounts the entire war in Eastern Europe. This masterpiece focuses on the major strategic aspects of the fighting primarily from the German perspective - from the initial German invasion and the turning point at Stalingrad to the final collapse of the German forces and the Soviet's sweep through Poland and into Berlin.
The account is definitely lopsided with the predominance of the discussion focusing on the German perspective. This is due to the period in which it was written. It would be another 40 years before the Soviet archives opened and historians could begin to review the details from a Russian viewpoint. Never-the-less this is a fantastic introduction to the early successes, mid-war stresses and finally the total collapse of the Nazi war machine.
The author provides some biographical background on the primary participants with a focus on the German leadership. Of particular interest are the quoted exchanges between Hitler and various members of the German General Staff giving some direct insight into the interaction of the personalities involved and the atmosphere surrounding those meetings.
In addition to the military aspect of the account, Alan Clark includes the economic particulars driving the strategy and battles. As an example, Clark discusses Albert Speer's production of tanks, close working relationship with Colonel General Guderian and the design and fielding of the new generation of tanks - the Panthers and Tigers. Challenges with keeping the mechanized forces fueled is discussed from both a logistical perspective early in the war and how the petroleum shortage at the end of the war impacted operations.
Diplomatic aspects of the war are also part of the narrative. Of particular interest was Clark's assessment of how Ribbentrop was viewed by many of the German General Staff - which was at best a bumbling fool. Another fascinating insight is Clark's documentation of Himmler's take on how he (Himmler) was viewed by the Western Powers. According to Clark Himmler believed he was viewed in a positive light by the Western Powers. Himmler truly thought he could negotiate a peace with the West, and even went as far as hoping the West would participate in the fight against Communism, i.e. the Soviets, in the East. It seems the Nazi leadership were living in quite the fantasy world at the conclusion of the war.
Overall I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the fighting on the Eastern Front. Written in a style that is easy to read this comprehensive study continues to be a valuable contribution to the collection of WW II knowledge.