'I thought Tank Men was a triumph ...it is a really fine piece of work' - Richard Holmes 'Some of the eye witness accounts Kershaw has collected for this comprehensive review of tank warfare have the power to chill the reader to the bone.
This is warfare at the sharp end' -NOTTINGHAM EVENING POST The First World War saw the birth of an extraordinary fighting machine that has fascinated three generations: the tank. In Tank Men, ex-soldier and military historian Robert Kershaw brings to life the grime, the grease and the fury of a tank battle through the voices of ordinary men and women who lived and fought in those fearsome machines. Drawing on vivid, newly researched personal testimony from the crucial battles of the First and Second World Wars, this is military history at its very best.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 496 pages, 2 x 8pp b/w photos
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 16/04/2009
- Category: European history
- ISBN: 9780340923498
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by jcbrunner
An excellent British account of the development of the tank and the men who rode them from WWI to WWII. Kershaw conveys the technological and bureaucratic struggles to establish the tank arm and effectively utilize it in battle as well as the courage needed to enter into this dark, sticky moving steel cage. A tank is both protection and a burning trap. The machines were leaking and breaking down at such a rate that just showing up on the battlefield was a challenge.Kershaw shows the arms race and evolution of tanks along the trade-off of fire, movement and protection. The Germans learned during the occupation campaigns of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland how to keep their tanks supplied on the move and how to establish radio communications. Their French and British opponents lacked this experience and were defeated despite technologically superior tanks. For most of the war, the Allies were out-gunned by the Germans, relying on their numerical advantage and the sacrifice of their Sherman tank crews. A propos tank crews: The Soviets used female tank crews with success. After initial troubles, the Soviets also developed a feeling for war-winning tanks and their use in tank armies. The Allies relied (or had to rely) on air superiority, as their production schedule choices did not allow for tanks on par with the Germans.The author has interviewed many veterans of many nations (curiously no Frenchman). Their testimony and insights about their life inside and around the tanks brings the book to life. One feels with and for the guys in their struggles, big and small.I wish the author had covered tank logistics and repair a bit more extensively as well as the development of anti-tank weaponry. Otherwise, the book is highly recommended.
Review by Luftwaffe_Flak
A candid and visceral look at tank warfare from WWI to WWII. The author weaves first hand accounts of veterans both living and dead to paint a picture one is not often familiar with when reading other accounts of war. An unblinking eye is turned towards the horrible deaths and wounds suffered by the men when they were hit. Moments of startling chivalry also have their place in this book as do horrible atrocities. An interesting view of the Allies choice of 'Mass over quality' in terms of their tanks and their protection and armaments. When briefed before invading Normandy crews were told their tanks were excellent and good compared to their German counter parts, despite the fact that Allied Intelligence was quite familiar of the short comings every Allied tank had when faced by Panthers or Tigers. Again political and economic expediency ruled the day, rather than consideration of mens lives.