Cover image for War from the top : German and British military decision making during World War II
War from the top : German and British military decision making during World War II
Wilt, Alan F.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
ix, 390 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D757 .W545 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Wilt writes... well and offers many sound perceptions." --Choice

... a stimulating book... a timely warning against overindulgence in hindsight in evaluating the great issues of the war... " --Parameters

... a significant new study... a clearly written, excellent book... " --Airpower Journal

... an impressive work of scholarship... " --British Politics Group Newsletter

Wilt's comparative approach permits us fresh perspectives on both sides of the war. Moreover, Wilt has chosen to compare two of the major rival belligerents at the most stimulating and interesting level at which such comparison might be made, the level of the summit of decision making--with the magnetic figures of Hitler and Churchill playing major roles in his narrative and analysis." --Russell F. Weigley

This is a masterful treatment of a complex subject and a must read book for anyone writing about the Second World War." --The Historian

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Wilt (Iowa State University), author of The Atlantic Wall (1975) and The French Riviera Campaign of August 1944 (CH, Jan'82). compares German and British war leadership at the highest level. For each belligerent, the author analyzes the conduct of 11 campaigns ranging from Poland (1939) to the Ardennes (1944) for Hitler and the Berlin team, and from the blockade of 1939 to the Veritable-Grenade operation in 1945 for the London planners. Wilt's theme is not confrontation but how and why each leadership group conducted its war as it did. His conclusion, based on British, German, and American archival material and a wide acquaintance with printed sources, is that Churchill and his advisers did a smoother, more efficient job of running their war (and of dealing with allies) than Hitler and his military confidants did. Moreover, the British, whatever their errors during the interwar years and after the German invasion of Poland, had the good sense to plan for a long war and to organize their economic and command systems accordingly. Wilt writes rather well and offers many sound perceptions. There are a few misspelled words and other errors (e.g., Admiral A.B. Cunningham's middle name was "Browne," not "Bourne," and the American-built Grant tank was, like the later Sherman, armed with a 75mm gun). By giving scant space to British disasters east of Suez between 1941 and 1943, Wilt makes Churchill and his associates look a little better overall than perhaps they actually were. Basic outline maps and tables illuminate and buttress the author's well-considered judgments. The book compares favorably with Ronald Lewin's Churchill as Warlord (CH, Jan'74) and Hitler's Mistakes (CH, Jul'86). Upper-division undergraduates and above. -R. H. Thompson, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis

Table of Contents

1 Directing the War
2 Running the War: The Organization
3 Running the War: The Personalities
4 Planning the War: The Early Years
5 Planning the War: The Middle and Later Phases
6 Fighting the War: 1939-1940
7 The Russian Front, 1941-1943
8 North Africa and Sicily, 1941-1943
9 The Battle of the Atlantic
10 Strategic Bombing vs. Air Defense
11 Burma and Western Europe, 1944-1945
Appendix: Code Names