Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II
Selected by Lieutenant General David Morrison, Chief of Army (Australia), for the Chief of Army's Reading List, 2012.
Command Culture explores the paradox that in Germany officers came from a closed authoritarian society but received an extremely open minded military education, whereas their counterparts in the United States came from one of the most democratic societies but received an outdated military education that harnessed their minds and limited their initiative. On the other hand, German officer candidates learned that in war everything is possible and a war of extermination acceptable. For American officers, raised in a democracy, certain boundaries could never be crossed.
This work for the first time clearly explains the lack of audacity of many high ranking American officers during World War II, as well as the reason why so many German officers became perpetrators or accomplices of war crimes and atrocities or remained bystanders without speaking up. Those American officers who became outstanding leaders in World War II did so not so much because of their military education, but despite it.
Praise For Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II…
“Muth has written a fascinating book here. Command Culture is an important and long-lasting contribution to the debate over officer training in the United States. What Muth is able to bring to the debate is a vast knowledge of the archival resources and historiography of the modern German army. The book is at once a study of the U.S. officer corps before World War II, a valuable analysis of U.S. and German officer training and education, and a stinging comparison of the two armies' military cultures.”--Robert Citino, author of The German Way of War and Path to Blitzkrieg
“Muth makes a strong case that effective command at all levels has a set of elements that do not depend on wider social, cultural, and political matrices. His challenge to the ‘new military history’ will generate controversy but cannot be dismissed.”--Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler's Panzers and Patton and Rommel
“Jörg Muth’s book is about an interesting and significant topic. Although I disagree in some respects with his thesis, I recognize that it is well argued. Based on extensive research in primary and secondary sources, it is also well written.”--Edward M. Coffman, author of The Regulars: The American Army, 1898-1941
“Muth’s book is a must-read for senior policy makers of the Army making strategic decisions about the philosophy, curriculum, and pedagogical methods in use in the current Army’s officer education system.”--Army History
"Muth's book raises important issues, many of which are still being hotly debated today in military circles. . . . Muth's work is valuable to both academics and military professionals alike. In particular, it should be discussed in American PME institutions at all levels."--Richard DiNardo, H-German, H-Net Reviews
"A leader of men who is uneducated isn't much of a leader at all. Command Culture analyzes how the U.S. and German armies educated their officers and how the two compare, and what this meant on the battlefield. German officers, while in a controlled society, received a vast education while it could be argued that American officers received the polar opposite of an open society and a dated and limited military education. These comparisons make for a very different and intriguing way to look at the battles of the war, making Command Culture an excellent addition to military history collections."--Midwest Book Review
University of North Texas Press, 9781574415339, 376pp.
Publication Date: April 7, 2013
About the Author
JöRG MUTH received his PhD in history from the University of Utah. He is the author of Flucht aus dem militärischen Alltag: Ursachen und individuelle Ausprägung der Desertion in der Armee Friedrichs des Großen, a study of desertion in the Prussian army during the era of Frederick the Great. He lives in Germany.