From Victory to Stalemate
The Western Front, Summer 1944
Decisive and Indecisive Military Operations, Volume 1
Charles J. Dick
Stone & Stone Editor’s Choice
By the summer of 1944, the war in Europe had reached a critical point. Both the western Allies and the Soviets possessed the initiative and forces capable of mounting strategic offensives against the German enemy. Writing a study of operations on first the Western then Eastern Front, respected military analyst C. J. Dick offers rare insight into the strengths and weaknesses of generalship on both fronts, especially the judgments, choices, and compromises made by senior commanders. At the same time, he clarifies the constraints imposed upon leadership—and upon operations—by doctrinal shortcomings, by logistics, and, not least, by the nature of coalition war.
“Dick has produced a work full of insights, and one that is particularly illuminating about the operational level of war.”
“From Victory to Stalemate should be required reading for anyone interested in either the conception and execution of operations or the art of generalship itself.”
—Michigan War Studies ReviewSee all reviews...
“Among the most cogently organized and argued analyses of the campaign. Dick provides just enough tactical and—most welcome—logistical detail to make his points without becoming lost in the proverbial weeds. His criticism avoids partisanship, treating all nationalities even-handedly. He also makes the effort to weigh the pros and cons of each decision, not just pass judgment and move on.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
“C. J. Dick’s perceptive analysis of the operational art as waged by Allied forces during the summer and fall of 1944 is a significant contribution to our understanding of some of the decisive campaigns of World War II. He details the doctrine, organization, training, and leadership of the major Allied armies, as well as evaluating their strengths and weaknesses before and during battle. In the unending debate over operational concepts, Dick is an unapologetic champion of maneuver warfare. As importantly, his evaluation of generalship, the challenges of coalition warfare, and the impact of intelligence and logistics on the operational level of war make this book a valuable addition to professional military reading lists.”
—Peter Mansoor, author of The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941–1945
“The operational level of war occupies the middle ground between the tactical and the strategic. The practical conduct of warfare at that level is called operational art. While tactics and strategy have been understood for centuries, the principles of the operational art only began to emerge at the very end of the 18th century. As a distinct body of warfighting practices and skills, it was slow to be accepted and understood by many armies, especially the American and British. Yet, the generals of the World War II Western Allies fought campaigns on the operational level without the benefit of an established doctrine. Those campaigns were successful on balance, but they were flawed and less than optimal. Nonetheless, the Allies won the war. In his penetrating and lucid analysis of the campaign from Normandy to the Rhine Charles J. Dick examines how that happened.”
—David T. Zabecki Major General U.S. Army (Ret.), author of The German 1918 Offensives: A Case Study in the Operational Level of War
“Charles Dick provides a unique set of insightful, comparative analyses of Allied, German and Soviet operations and associated operational art during the Second World War. This detailed and rewarding work should become a standard text of any serious student of war.”
—Major General (Retd) Mungo Melvin CB OBE, President of the British Commission for Military HistorySee fewer reviews...
From Victory to Stalemate focuses on the Western Front, specifically American, British, and Canadian operations in France and the Low Countries. Dick's lens throughout is operational art, which links individual tactical battles to broader strategic aims. Beginning with the D-Day landings in Normandy and the strengths and weaknesses of the armies, including their military doctrines, Dick goes on to analyze the offensives launched in the high summer of 1944. He considers the strategic factors and plans that provide the context for his main concern: the Allied commanders’ handling of army, army group, and theatre offensive operations.
Dick—s analysis shows us an Allied command limited by thinking that is firmly rooted in the experience of small wars and the World War I. The resulting incremental approach was further complicated by a divergence in the ideas and interests of the Allied forces. The man responsible for pulling it all together, Dwight D. Eisenhower, proved remarkably capable in his role as statesman; he was to be less effective as a military technician who could govern such difficult subordinates as Bradley and Montgomery. As a result, the Allied offensive faltered and became a war of attrition, in contrast to the Soviet effort on the Eastern Front.