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How Hitler Lost the War



Jonathan Dimbleby

London: Penguin Books, 2022

Paperback  656pp   RRP: $24.99


Reviewer: Adrian Catt, June 2023


With so much more to offer than the title suggests, the extensive testimonials within expand upon the glowing references and the publisher’s back-jacket text, highlight that this is an exceptional work.

Whilst setting the political scene in Europe since World War 1, this encompassing text sets out the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany, the Great Depression, and tensions, alliances and allegiances between Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States, leading up to and into World War II.

Hitler’s’ dream of eradicating Bolshevism and Jews, whilst pursuing the utopia of Lebensraum for the German people, was as evil and twisted as Russia’s ethnic-cleansing of Kulaks, and the oppression of its citizens. The détente of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was to be shattered by Hitler when he planned and launched his Barbarossa offensive against an unsuspecting Stalin, in spite of repeated British and Kremlin warnings.

Barbarossa was delayed because the Nazis were challenged by other battles in Finland and Greece. The Barbarossa assault on Russia was to proceed unwisely in the face of on-coming severe winter weather on the Eastern Front. Nazis successful lightning attacks and the tactic of encirclement were most effective initially, but Hitler made many mistakes and  flawed tactical changes. The most obvious problem was allowing armoured divisions to run too far ahead of infantry, and crucial supply lines. Through the bloody, bitter and horrific fighting, both German and Russian soldiers were to fight in atrocious weather, and with food a severe problem, many thousands would also starve to death. The Nazi supply lines were mostly non-existent, with vital winter-weight clothing, food and resources trapped in Poland; never to be delivered to the front despite the continual clamouring from all Commanders in the field. Here, the Russians had a ‘home ground advantage’ when it came to re-supply of men and materiel.

The Nazis regrouped and launched Operation Typhoon, causing the Great Panic in Moscow as it was encircled, albeit at a distance. Alas, it was to no avail as the Japanese had brought the US into the War, on the side of the Allies, and the vast production of the US was to provision vital materiel to both Russia and Britain. This enabled the Russians to drive the Germans back, defeated.

This book could have been way briefer and just as informative if it had been written in plain English.  The excessive flourish and embellishment with rich, highfalutin language is creative, colourful and masterly, but quite pompous, tiresome and unnecessary. Otherwise, this work really has earned its glowing accolades.




The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.

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