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Osprey Publishing- Tannenberg 1914 Destruction of the Russian Second Army

ISBN Number:
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Osprey Publishing
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Steve Santucci

 Tannenberg 1914 Destruction of the Russian Second Army  

By Michael McNally

Illustrated By Sean O’Brogain 

Early war discussion on a significant German battle of WWI, that is what is contained in this book. It is well established that the Campaign Series published by Osprey provides readers with a look into the details, strategies, tactics and the experiences of battle of the opposing sides.  

If you are not familiar with WWI and key battles this is a book for you! The War itself resides in the shadows of WWII despite the origins of the latter are rooted in the Great War. The book provides a look into the Eastern Campaigns of the War, a subject that is often underrepresented in any printed matter.  

Tannenberg would introduce the world to some key figures in German military history, such as Erich Ludendorff and Hindenburg. 

 The book's layout is simple and consistent with the series. Origins of the Campaign focuses on the events and relationships prior to the battle and the War itself, the myriad alliances that plagued Europe going back the 1870s. It explores the events, strategies and plans that eventually led to war.    

A chronology of events is presented to allow the reader the context to understanding the causes and movements toward.    

The Opposing Commanders and Forces delves into the individual personalities as well as the general look at the militaries structure at the time of the battle. A discussion on the equipment, training and experiences of  each side is provided. 

 Opposing Plans are explored and analyzed and dissected. The Russian plan is explored and evaluated to the extent that the Russians were entering the war with as the author notes “…only the vaguest idea as to how it would maintain its forces in the field once contact had been made with the enemy”.  A look is taken on the German Plan (Schlieffen) which is well known and is looked at with critical eye to how it relates to the Eastern Campaign  

The bulk of the book is dedicated to the campaign. A look at key events and battles are highlighted with analysis. Maps, full color battle scenes, illustrations and 3D birds eye views depicting these key events, individuals and battles provide context. The discussion provides detailed information through the use of primary source material. Use of the technology available at the time and how it played a role in the campaigns’ outcome is explored, no doubt one side exploited it more than the other.    

The author clearly illustrates how each side performed and what the results were. The Battle of Tannenberg saw the German Army inflict a humiliating and crushing defeat on the forces of Imperial Russia in the first month of the war. The section reviews the Aftermath of the campaign as it relates to the War and post war influence on Germany in particular. A useful book for those wanting to expand their knowledge on the period or to use as a resource for early war in the east for inspiration of vignettes and figures.

Highly Recommended for anyone interested in this little known theater of the Great War.

Thanks goes out to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.

Reviewed by Steve Santucci


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