The Great War Dawning; by Joe Robinson

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MWSA Review

The Great War Dawning is a historical study of the German Army at the start of WWI. This is an extensive study authored by three writers in the name of Frank Buchholz, Joe Robinson and Janet Robinson which will not only bring forth the formation of the German Army at the dawn of the Great War but also gives a deep understanding of the formation of the modern German unified government.

This vast historical volume begins with the formation of a unified Germany from the Germanic states which up until 1870 were independent from each other. So in the vast political oasis that is Europe, Germany is a baby among the polemic entities. In fact at the start of WWI when Germany entered into a two front war, Germany was at the point of its history as the United States was at the time it entered War of 1812.

The authors bring forth with concise detail as to how the various states are formed into the German Army. It is through the efforts of the Prussian Army culture that the basic formations of the German Army take hold. The training, the maintenance of reserves and the missions of all the combat arms are conveyed in great detail. Also a study in detail is shown in the support elements of logistics and supply.

With this background told in historical perspective the authors bring us to the beginnings of WWI. It is here where they express the true reasons for the German failures to execute the Schlieffen plan in detail along with the reasons for failure in using the leadership of Auftragstaktik (independent leadership.) The thesis brought forward by the authors is contrary to the British historical look of leadership and command of the Germans in WWI. The staid historical perspectives of over 100 years has been challenged and gives us a thought provoking look at the original Blitzkrieg in its failure in executing the Schlieffen plan.

This is indeed original research and deserves our attention. Excellent book! Excellent research! In fact this book can and should be used as reference in further studies and research. The maps are detailed and the appendices are detailed and informative. This book is a historical treasure to be studied and read with new and useful information. Well done!

Reviewed by: Dick Geschke (2014)


Author's Synopsis

The imperial German army in 1914 was not the juggernaut that many presumed; rather, it was a force mired in tradition that had developed many structural weaknesses. Most English-language histories of the Great War's battles are based on British sources; the authors of this book based their analyses on many original German sources. With an extensive bibliography that includes German language sources (many unpublished), the reader is presented with a different view of the conflict. This will become the seminal English language book on the German army as it entered World War I. This treatise explains the social, political, and economic structure of the country as it relates to the German military. It is the only English-language source that fully explains the German army-both active and reserve forces coupled with their training and doctrine. More importantly, this book discusses the structural issues in the German army that led directly to its failure at the Battle of the Marne. Specifically, leadership issues, logistical issues, and the misuse of cavalry created significant fissures that could have been corrected before the war. This is a different view of the Great War than the well-known Guns of August published in 1962. The Great War Dawning presents a critical look at the doctrine of the time and how leadership's failure to overhaul outmoded methods led to the downfall of imperial Germany's plans in 1914. Book also