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By Philip Langer, Robert Pois

Why do army commanders, so much of them frequently really able, fail at an important moments in their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer -- one a historian, the opposite a tutorial psychologist -- learn seven circumstances of army command disasters, from Frederick the nice at Kunersdorf to Hitler's invasion of Russia. whereas the authors realize the price of mental theorizing, they don't think that one procedure can hide the entire contributors, battles, or campaigns lower than exam. as an alternative, they judiciously take a couple of psycho-historical ways in wish of laying off mild at the behaviors of commanders in the course of battle. the opposite battles and commanders studied listed below are Napoleon in Russia, George B. McClellan's Peninsular crusade, Robert E. Lee and Pickett's cost at Gettysburg, John Bell Hood on the conflict of Franklin, Douglas Haig and the British command in the course of global struggle I, "Bomber" Harris and the Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Stalingrad.

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Extra resources for Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership

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In any event, the Russian army was now commanded by Barclay de Tolly. Putulsk and, more importantly, Eylau, had been grim eye-openers as to the ¤ghting qualities of Russian soldiery. At the same time, higher leadership, in the form of the almost impressively inadequate Bennigsen, had once again been poor enough that costly stalemates rather than more costly disasters resulted from these encounters. Friedland, on the other hand, had been a massacre, with Bennigsen’s incompetence more than counterbalancing Russian courage.

His clumsy ¶ip-¶opping between possible allies made him the laughingstock of Europe. When he ¤nally decided that an alliance with Austria would serve Prussian interests, particularly with regard to his claim on the west German territory of Berg, the emperor, Charles VI, decided that massive Prussian support in the War of the Polish Succession (1733–36) was not needed, if support of Frederick William’s claim on Berg was the price he had to pay for it. 37 By the time he died in 1740, Frederick William had succeeded in creating an ef¤cient, thoroughly militarized state and the bureaucracy needed to support it.

38 As we have seen, Frederick might well have added certain crucial innovations—a much improved cavalry, for example—and the oblique battle order, but the ¤nely honed Prussian military machine, including not a few of its senior of¤cers and generals, was, as pointed out earlier, a “gift” from Frederick William. Indeed, the legendary boon companion of the old tyrant, Leopold of Anhalt (the “Old Dessauer”), played a crucial role in the Second Silesian War (1744–45), winning the last major battle, that of Kesselsdorf, on his own.

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