By Philip Langer, Robert Pois

Why do army commanders, such a lot of them often rather able, fail at the most important moments in their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer -- one a historian, the opposite an instructional psychologist -- research seven circumstances of army command disasters, from Frederick the good at Kunersdorf to Hitler's invasion of Russia. whereas the authors realize the worth of mental theorizing, they don't think that one process can conceal the entire participants, battles, or campaigns lower than exam. in its place, they judiciously take a couple of psycho-historical ways in wish of laying off gentle at the behaviors of commanders in the course of conflict. 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 international battle I, "Bomber" Harris and the Strategic Bombing of Germany, and Stalingrad.

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55 Following Battig, then, it would be a mistake to suggest that any psychologically grounded explanation could allow a historian to establish qualitative differences between Frederick’s actions at Kunersdorf and those that could be observed on other ¤elds. Human behavior, to say nothing of those patterns of overdetermination that inform it, is simply too complex. Differences must, therefore, be of degree, rather than kind. However, there is clearly a disparity between the nature of his offensive tactics generally, and the incredible impulsiveness of his actions at Kunersdorf.

As will be seen, it is our opinion that this perception of Frederick William was probably crucial in determining how Frederick, whose diffuse sense of identity drove him to—or at least reinforced a tendency toward—stereotyping, was responsible for the contempt of Russians responsible for the disaster of Kunersdorf. PO RT RAIT O F A LE AD E R At the time he ascended the throne in 1740, Frederick II presented the following picture. He was a man who, in the cause of simple self-preservation, had had to sacri¤ce large—and perhaps, to him, the most important—elements of his self.

William F. 55 Following Battig, then, it would be a mistake to suggest that any psychologically grounded explanation could allow a historian to establish qualitative differences between Frederick’s actions at Kunersdorf and those that could be observed on other ¤elds. Human behavior, to say nothing of those patterns of overdetermination that inform it, is simply too complex. Differences must, therefore, be of degree, rather than kind. However, there is clearly a disparity between the nature of his offensive tactics generally, and the incredible impulsiveness of his actions at Kunersdorf.

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Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership by Philip Langer, Robert Pois
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