Command Decisions: Langsdorff and the Battle of the River Plate (ePub)
This compelling new study of the Battle of the River Plate concentrates on Kapitän zur See Hans Langsdorff, the commander of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee – it is written from his point of view. The story of his mission at the start of the Second World War to prey on merchant shipping is graphically retold, and Langsdorff's command decisions are the primary focus of David Miller's gripping narrative.
He considers in vivid detail the factors Langsdorff had to consider as he assessed the situation of his ship and choose his course of action. He describes the intelligence Langsdorff received and his knowledge of the position and strength of the forces of the Royal Navy that were arrayed against him. Langsdorff's interpretation of his mission and the tense calculations he had to make in order to carry it out are the essential elements of this dramatic story.
Langsdorff, operating alone and thousands of miles away from home and with no prospect of support, had to grapple with the enormous burden of a lone command. He made grave mistakes, and these are ruthlessly exposed. But this fascinating re-examination of his actions and his leadership does nothing to diminish his reputation as a brave and honourable officer.
Miller's analytical approach makes this a 'must-read' for anyone interested in naval operations in the Second World War.New York Military Affairs Symposium
A very well-researched and well-presented book. Langsdorff was a brave and honourable commander who made some serious mistakes but received very little support from head office, as it were. He commanded a very powerful ship with a crack crew.Ausmarine
Langsdorff's tragic end was, very early in the war, perhaps symptomatic of the doom facing the whole national socialist edifice. He and his Nazi masters were truly doomed from the start of their mad adventure.
In his intensive study and analysis of Langsdorff, his ship, crew and strategic and tactical environment, author Miller makes this very clear. There is much to learn in modern times from this.
‘A superb analysis of a man under great strain during war, and a stimulating read.’David Miller
A sympathetic but clinically analytical study. A superb analysis of a man under great strain during war, and a stimulating read.Warship World
A useful portrait of Langsdorff. Usable text for readers entirely unfamiliar with the subject.Proceedings USNI
New account differs from some other books. The analysis...offers interesting insights. Produced to a high standard and well-illustrated. Contains interesting insights from the German perspective. A timeless and poignant story that deserves to be told.Simon Bellamy Lieut RNR
Readers may judge that Miller's account makes up for the failure of another recent book on the same battle to analyse Langsdorff's decision making fully. This is a welcome addition to the bibliography of the Battle of the River Plate.Warships Magazine
A welcome addition to the bibliography of the Battle of the River Plate.Warships International Fleet Review
The Battle of the River Plate must be one of the best known naval engagements of the 20th century. There have been plenty of books about the battle, but this one focuses on her Captain, Hans Langsdorff, portrayed by the author, David Miller, as a 'decent, honourable and compassionate man' and a professional naval officer. Miller gives a sympathetic but clinically analytical study of the pressures facing Langsdorff, a man who always behaved with great integrity.Scuttlebutt
It is a superb analysis of a man under great strain during war, and a stimulating read.
A very interesting book that looks specifically at the command decisions during one of the most famous naval actions of World War Two...The author's breadth of experience has combined with thorough research and been supported by a selection of well-chosen images in a black and white plate section...This is a moving story of success and failure, of good decisions and poor decisions. A very valuable addition to our pool of knowledge of an important naval action.Firetrench Reviews