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Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes (Hardback)

Military > Biographies > Military Biographies WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Stalingrad WWII > Hitler & the Third Reich

By Paul Ballard-Whyte
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 120 integrated B&W images
ISBN: 9781399074377
Published: 30th September 2022



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• An unbridled, unique and radical account of the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler
• Groundbreaking and original perspective on the enigmatic Dictator
• Fascinating and compelling analysis of the Führer’s qualities and failures
• A single volume history of WW2 written in an appealing, colourful style

Adolf Hitler’s Great War military experiences in no way qualified him for supreme command. Yet by July 1940, under his personal leadership the Third Reich’s armed forces had defeated Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and France. The invasion of Great Britain was a distinct reality following Dunkirk. Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania had become allies along with the acquiescent military powers of Mussolini’s Italy and Franco’s Spain. These achievements prompted Field Marshal Willem Keitel, the Wehrmacht’s Chief of Staff, to pronounce Hitler to be ‘the Greatest Commander of all time’.

Storm clouds were gathering, most notably the disastrous decision to tear up the treaty with the Soviet Union and launch Operation Barbarossa in 1941. As described in this meticulously researched and highly readable book, Hitler’s blind ideology, racist hatred and single-mindedness led him and his allies inexorably to devastating defeat. How far was it good luck that gave Hitler his sensational early political and military successes? Certainly fortune played a major role in his survival from many assassination attempts and sex scandals. The author concludes, from 1941 onwards, the Fuhrer’s downfall was entirely attributable to military misjudgements that he alone made.

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes exposes the enigmatic Dictator for what he really was – incredibly lucky and militarily incompetent.

As featured in

Military History Matters - Issue 135, August/September 2023


In my humble opinion, it’s a superb work, and I am really happy to have read it. Today, I’ve written a 5 stars positive feedback on [the] book (my nickname is Hermann - it’s in Italian, because Amazon doesn’t allow me a review in English.)

Today, it’s not easy to find a well-written book, so, when I find one, it’s really a pleasure.

[Paul's] book is really interesting and, in the future, I hope to buy it in paper format also, to keep it in my library.

Arcangelo Germanò, Historical Analyst - First Class Graduate in Political, Economic and Government Sciences - University of Urbino, Italy

"An excellent book - highly recommended."

Anthony Tucker-Jones, Former intelligence analyst, military historian and freelance writer

An inherently fascinating and original study, "Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes" features an eleven page Glossary, a seven page Bibliography, a six page Index. Not to be missed is a special 'What Happened to Each Character' list. Informed and informative, deftly organized and presented, "Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes" is a valued and valuable inclusion for both community and academic library World War II History/Biography collections and a critically important addition to supplemental curriculum Adolph Hitler studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes" is also available in a digital book format.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

The book raises a number of interesting points and its assertions are well made. It pokes holes in the mythology surrounding Hitler, showing him to be a twisted and hateful yet ultimately very human and flawed person.

Read full review here

Warfare History Network

Highlight: 'The book raises a number of interesting points and its assertions are well made.'

Read the full review here:

WWII History Magazine


Just published is Lucky Hitler's Big Mistakes - a survey of how luck and good fortune brought Hitler to power and extraordinary early success in the war. The author considers how Hitler narrowly avoided a series of sex scandals and an even longer series of assassination attempts, and consolidated his power by surrounding himself with a group of ‘yes men’.

He then goes on to consider how Hitler‘s downfall came about at his own hand. A catalogue of unforced errors in strategic and military decision-making made defeat inevitable. Not least among these was an obsession with ‘Festungen’ - fortified locations that were to become costly military dead ends. He also considers the wide range of technical projects that Hitler became involved in - from innovative Jet aircraft through to the ‘Wonder Weapons’ that he believed would win the war - the V1 and V2 rockets.

WWII Today


Well researched analysis of Hitler's military judgment, strengths and weaknesses.

The Telegraph


From the time he served in the German Army during world War I through to the early years of World War II, Adolf Hitler seemed to lead a charmed life. In his early years he survived the war, his nation’s postwar economic doldrums and his part in the Nazis initial coup attempt. After coming to power, he survived a number of assassination attempts and sex scandals and capitalized on events to increase his power over the German people. As he kept pushing, first in the Rhineland and later in Czechoslovakia, his luck held. When the war started in 1939, the initial victories over Poland, France, the Low Countries, Denmark, and Norway were often attributed to his military and political skill. However, as the war continued, his luck ran out. He spread his forces too thinly, invading the vast Soviet Union and declaring war on the United States.

The author of this new book argues Hitler rose to rule Germany largely through his luck, the unwillingness of his opponents to decisively engage with him, and his ability to capitalize on opportunities. As the war widened and dragged on, however, his incompetence as a strategic thinker and military leader became obvious. The book raises a number of interesting points and its assertions are well made. It pokes holes in the mythology surrounding Hitler, showing him to be a twisted and hateful yet ultimately very human and flawed person.


ARTICLE: Teacher Paul Ballard-Whyte has written an unusual expose of Adolf Hitler’s life, looking at the role played by luck – or lack of it

The Oxford Times

Review as featured in

Highlight: 'It's an interesting book with many talking points.'

The Armourer

This is an excellent work that must have required from the author discipline, dedication and most of all, a great love of History. The author lays down a clear path for his readers towards getting them informed, persuaded and entertained.

The author is also a fascinating narrator with a great sense of humour. The language and delivery style of the storyline is very clear, and hugely entertaining. It puts a genuine smile on a reader’s face when a description of the attempt to assassinate Hitler of 20th July 1944 is accompanied by an archival photo and the author’s comment: “The room was destroyed - as were the Fuhrer’s trousers!”

The author ends the book with a timely question: “Could there ever be another Hitler?” Putin’s ‘Fuhrer – like’ invasion in Ukraine, which has now become the bloodiest warfare of the modern history, only confirms the author’s reply to his own question: “A random juxtaposition of unforeseeable events could conspire again… to produce another enigmatic leader with the mystical powers to beguile a people, a country or even turn the whole world into some dreadful dystopian abyss.”

Every one of the 280-odd pages in the book is full of information, both new and revisited known facts, backed up by data, strengthened by historic quotes, and lightened up by an abundance of relevant illustrations and photos. The author even went to the extent of providing a brief profile to each of the characters that he mentions in various chapters of his book which he completes with a very thorough bibliography.

Overall, Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes is a great read, and very good value.

Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Language Translator

The author paints a portrait of Adolf Hitler as having made the same fatal errors of judgment as Napoleon in their quest for world domination. An absolutely fascinating account of how everything finally went wrong for the Fuhrer. Brilliant.

Books Monthly

An excellent book, especially if you like WW2 history and how it occurred.

Read the Full Review Here

The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting look at how Hitler had a run of extremely good luck to get where he was in power in Germany. The author then presents things where he wasn’t as lucky. A great and interesting read to understand, that if something had just gone differently, history would not have been the same. A great historical read.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer


A very good book on how an unfit person which some abilities like oratory can benefit of luck and opportunities take power and make mayhem. When luck falls, the over achiever "abilities" fails him and well mayhem happens. The book mostly cover the period 1914-1945 when a street artist with no diploma achieves totatal power in Europe, is on the verge on consolidating a international empire and then by his own limitations slides down to oblivion.

In the first part, the lucky part Adolf Hitler survives World War one, have friends that supports him when he doubts himslef, give him money and exposure. The chapters on Hitler" personal love" life is personally a gem,. The would be dictator could not have sane, respectull relationship with a women. Also the fact that Hitler had relationship with teenagers puts the fact of some control freak who is insecure and a predator.

The second part of the book expose Hitler main mistakes after 1941. Like the famous saying when you want to kill a snake hit at the head not the body well Hitler did that mistake in the summer 1941 while not taking Moscow and aiming for the Ukraine. Taking Moscow would have cut the main tranportation hub of the Soviet Union, deprived the USSR of a major industrial hub and done a crippling blow , the "coup de grace" on communism.

Another big mistakes for Hitler who always told his generals and admiral know nothing is repeating World war one mistakes by spending limited ressources in building before the war capitals ships(the Bismarck's battleships, Scharnhorst,s type battlecurisers and the uncomplete aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin) instead of the ace in the sleeve the U Boats. More U boats would have cut the lifelife of the Great-Britian and of the Soviet-Union.

A very good, read with funny anecdotes and a informative bibliography on a evil but flawed genius.

Mathieu Gaudreault, Goodreads

A very good, read with funny anecdotes and a informative bibliography on a evil but flawed genius.

Read the full review here

GoodReads, Mathieu Gaudreault

As featured in

The Bookseller

Lucky Hitler’s Big Mistakes is expertly written and well-researched. There is much to grab the reader by the collar and hold their attention. The plotline is gripping and the explanation of political and military tactics — which could so easily have been dull or led to information overwhelm -- was excellent. I can’t imagine any reader becoming bored by this narrative or leaving the book unfinished.

Stephanie J. Hale, author & former BBC/IRN newsreader

To continue the theme of luck - it was unquestionably fortuitous for the students at the schools where the author taught History. His ability to convey his passion for the subject, including the unravelling of the Second World War, meant new generations of young people were inspired - wanting to hear and learn more. With this book, Paul Ballard-Whyte has proved his ability to walk the fine line between classroom practitioner and distinguished author, putting his very original slant on how it was that Adolf Hitler came so close to, and yet so far from, conquering Europe.

Philip Fawkes, author, retired Headmaster and Teacher of British History.

If you ever wondered why Hitler got so far and then utterly failed, just read this book. It’s totally captivating and full of learning. Hitler the evil genius – but not militarily.

Marcus Ferrar, author 'A Foot in Both Camps: a German Past for Better and for Worse and The Fight For Freedom'

'Congratulations to Paul Ballard-Whyte on this well-researched, well-written and thought-provoking book, which could not have been published at a more apposite time.'

Andrew Roberts, author: 'Churchill: Walking with Destiny'

About Paul Ballard-Whyte

Paul Ballard-Whyte was born in Aberdeen and now lives in Oxford, England. He studied British history at Sunderland University and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree. He is married with two adult children; his son is a Major in the British Army.
Before becoming Head of History and rugby coach at an Oxfordshire Prep School, he was a successful businessman in Travel, Personnel, Restaurant and Hotel businesses, a Parliamentary Candidate in two General Elections, a Formula 2000 racing driver with the JKR Team, Scottish Superkart Champion and an Epee Bronze medallist.
He has recently published a short story set in Afghanistan titled ‘The Three Birthdays’ and has previously written and directed several short films.

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