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Summary

A stunning look at World War II from the other side.... From the turret of a German tank, Colonel Hans von Luck commanded Rommel's 7th and then 21st Panzer Division. El Alamein, Kasserine Pass, Poland, Belgium, Normandy on D-Day, the disastrous Russian front - von Luck fought there with some of the best soldiers in the world. German soldiers. Awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knight's Cross, von Luck writes as an officer and a gentleman. Told with the vivid detail of an impassioned eyewitness, his rare and moving memoir has become a classic in the literature of World War II, a first-person chronicle of the glory - and the inevitable tragedy - of a superb soldier fighting Hitler's war.

©1989 Hans von Luck (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • R
  • Wokingham, United Kingdom
  • 27-08-14

Shame he was on the wrong side

If you could sum up Panzer Commander in three words, what would they be?

Honest, forthright and non-sensasional

What did you like best about this story?

The very sincere way he felt about the fighting

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The journey back home and his feelings of the world he was now away from

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

Any additional comments?

He was a very honest man who must have felt bad that he was tarred with the brush of Nazism

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Les
  • Epsom, United Kingdom
  • 03-05-15

Fascinating funny and horrific read

This guy took part in almost every theatre of the war. Gives a fascinating insight into the life of the average soldier in detail rarely told, a must read for anyone interested in military history, especially from the German perspective!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An Unmissable Different Perspective

As a British person growing up watching war movies you believed all Germans were bad and emotionless. Listening to this book my eyes opened to the German cause and suffering. It also highlighted to me how crazy some of the actions the German high command made during the war. Would you believe that half way through I started to feel sorry for the ordinary German soldier who didn't stand a chance in many aspects but was forced to carry on. Excellent book, highly recommend to anyone to read or listen and get a perspective from the other side of the front line. RIP Hans Von Luck

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • frank
  • Isle of Anglesey
  • 10-01-15

Fascinating read

Superb book for those interested in the German viewpoint - honest and sometimes brutal a must for anyone interested in WWII

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Panzer Commander

A gripping account of Hans von Luck's life. An enormously interesting man. I have been captivated by his memoirs. Best audible book I have listened to yet.

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Moving and informative

A very moving and very informative view on the second world war, from a man who served on almost every front. From the Eastern Front to deserts of North Africa and the fields of Normandy, Hans Von Luck saw it all and writes an incredible account of the battles.

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Brilliantly written.

Loved it, sometimes real life truly is stranger than fiction. It goes to show that the bonds of friendship and comradery are the same whichever side of war you fight on.

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Excellent

Probably one of the best ww2 memoirs I've read so far. The closing chapters detailing his captivity in Russia and subsequent return to Germany are particularly good. Not an in depth review of the tactics and weapons used but a captivating and very human account of the experiances of one German front line soldier.

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I feel lucky to have experienced such a book.

If you're on the fence, dont hesitate, give this attention gripping book the listen it deserves.
Thank you audible for making this book available, this quality is what will keep me subscribed for life.

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Excellent audiobook

Gives a great account of the war from a German perspective. If interested in this area well worth a listen.

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  • A Texan 2
  • 15-09-14

A compelling look into WW2 from the "other" side

This is not a book I would have normally found on my own. But, a good friend recommended it and I am most grateful that he did. It is a recollection of World War II that everyone should read.

These are the memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck and in it he shares his experiences of his life as an officer in the German army leading up to and through World War II. It also gives his account of the five years he spent after the war in a Soviet POW camp and his eventual return to life as a civilian.

This book is not a glorification or romanticization of war. It is not a defense of Hitler's Germany, nor an apology. It is an explanation of how men who were patriots of their country had that loyalty twisted and abused in Hitler's quest for world domination. It is a view "from the trenches" and gives great insight into both the details of the battles von Luck fought in, and the thoughts and feelings of him and his men through the various stages of the war.

While I did find the narrative bog down from time to time with the details of movements during some of the campaigns, what really makes this book a standout are von Luck's insights into how the German army viewed the war as well as the descriptions of encounters that he had with his enemies both as captor and prisoner. von Luck also brings into this collection additional stories from his companions who got separated from him over the course of the war - of people he befriended in Paris during the time Germany initially occupied it, of subordinates captured by the Americans in North Africa and the time they spent in POW camps in the American Midwest, of the woman who was for a time his fiance before his capture and five year internment.

In war, governments seek to make their citizens see the enemy as something not human. von Luck makes nots of the Nazi propaganda machines efforts to make the German citizens see the Soviets as "sub-humans" at the time that Hitler broke his non-agression pact with Stalin and started the disastrous invasion of the Russian homeland. This book shows that all of these peoples - Russians, Germans, French, Brits, even the Americans - weren't just "others" but were men doing their best to follow the orders of the civilian leaders under difficult circumstances. It is a book anyone who would claim the mandate of leader of a country should read to better understand the human face of war and the young men whose lives are spent engaging in "politics by other means."

For the narration - Bronson Pinchot did an excellent job of bringing this story to life. His inflection, rhythm and accents really made me feel like Colonel von Luck was sitting down in the room with me and telling his story.

24 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Randall
  • 08-11-16

Reads like Forrest Gump ( a fiction )

This guy has a grand opinion of himself. We are expected to believe all these tales. Von Luck must have been Superman. All his deeds were honorable and all his enemies became good friends, and he was best friends with all the generals in Germany. This book can only be entertaining if you think of it as a fiction or you are very gullible. Maybe Von Luck has "added" a little each time he told his tales until he came up with this grandiose story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph Hayek
  • 10-06-14

From a former tank commander

If you could sum up Panzer Commander in three words, what would they be?

Delightful, Humbling, Forgive

Who was your favorite character and why?

Von Luck

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

Nice accent...sometimes German...sometimes French...but always delightful. He tried hard to sound German

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Reconciliation is Necessary for Soldiers

Any additional comments?

I was a tank commander with D. Co. 2/112th AR, 49th Armored Division. Military History was my minor in college. I needed to listen to this book. The reader does a great job. He tries the accent. Sometimes it sounds German...sometimes French. But always delightful. It only takes about 15 minutes to get used to it. The book is delightful!! But...if you want to hate someone...Germans, Russians, Blacks, Democrats, Republicans, Gays, Straights, Muslims, Christians...whoever!!!! You will not like this book Von Luck ends up saying that "forgetting" is good..."forgiving" is better..."reconciliation" is the best. He should know! Think you have a reason for hating??? You should have lived his life. I don't think he ever reconciled with the Nazis, but he did with everyone else he fought or suffered under.

19 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • 30-11-14

Eminently Readable

Von Luck was born in 1911 in Flensburg, the son of a naval officer and descends from an old military family. Von Luck joined a Cavalry regiment in the 100,000 strong Reichwehr in 1929 but was soon transferred to the motorized infantry. In 1931 he came under the tutelage of Erwin Rommel. By 1936 he was a company commander. He served in every battle from Poland, Russia, Africa and France. He was a battalion commander under Rommel. He was captured by the Russian at the end of the war and put into a punishment camp in Kiev. He was released in 1950 and repatriated to West German. He obtained a job working for a coffee company. In 1960 he was on the staff of the British Military Camberley Staff College. He instructed students about the German Tank corp. in various battles in WWII and in particular the battle at Normandy. He did the same for the Swedish and French military. He made a military staff training file with Major General “Pip” Roberts. Von Luck died in January 1997.

Through Von Luck’s memoir you can obtain a rare perspective of the German soldiers and get to see a unique behind the scenes look at the German Army during WWII. Von Luck writes with an easy to read direct style. He offers no excuses and begs no forgiveness for serving his country. He fought because he was a soldier. The book contains hundreds of anecdotes and observations that bring the story to life. If you are interested in World War II this is a must read book. Bronson Pinchot narrated the book.

16 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 25-11-15

A Lover of His Enemies

He loves the Russians, he loves the Polish, he loves the French, he loves the bedlams. He was a professional solider. He killed Russians, he killed Poles, he killed Frenchmen. This guy never meet an enemy he didn't love and kill. He did not like Hitler or the SS. Pretty interesting how politically correct he is in his old age.

This is a must read for Military enthusiasts and World War II historians. The book is full of German Strategies, military jargon, and high adventure.

I got it, because I thought I might get some answers on why Hitler did what he did and why people followed him. Luck did what he did because he was a Prussian Aristocrat, whose family had a history of being in the military. He followed orders. If told, "Go invade Poland", he did not question it and looked forward to the adventure of getting out and killing Polish people. The same for France and for Russia. He knew nothing about concentration camps, even though all his Jewish friends kept disappearing. I never found out why Hitler invaded anybody.

This is a great book for looking at World War II from the rarely seen other side, as far as strategy goes, but don't look for Why?

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Neil
  • 03-06-14

Fantastic Read of an exceptional life

Han Von Luck was in almost all the theaters of the war. The invasion of France, North Africa, Invasion of Russia, then Normandy and defense of Berlin. He takes you though the battles and politics of the war. Von luck was not a Nazi, but had to live with the insanity of the war and prison in Russia. He was an exceptional man who was not bitter after years of war with limited supplies, and then he endured years of captivity in the Russian coal mines including a punishment camp. Yet he has good things to say about everyone, North Africans, the allies and even the Russians. He was later released and was not able to get a good job since he was a war officer. He endured all over a decade, and kept his spirits and head up. He is an example of a great spirit, a survivor, and a man of character. Someone to look up to.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-06-15

Hard to listen to the fake accent

This is a good story if you can get past the horrible fake German accent. If you like this kind of book, you would probably enjoy "A Higher Call" by Adam Makos. It is a great book that is so much easier to listen to.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Tate
  • 16-09-14

Part of the whole story of WWII

Would you listen to Panzer Commander again? Why?

Yes, the subject was interesting, the author erudite and engaging, and the performance delightful

Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

Hans von Luck, and many of his conversations with various other military figures

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The pathos of a cultivated and decent fellow caught in the dirty maelstrom of the Second World War.

Any additional comments?

A splendid book to gain insight into aspects of the war not in the common American narrative. Contrary to the usual story the Germans were not monsters, and not even largely Nazi. Also provides that the Russians weren't quite as monstrous as we have been led to believe too. And like most, only wish they had never been subjected to the pernicious ideology of their insane government.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Wilson Rondini IV
  • 23-03-15

A much needed perspective

I am moved by this story. Ive never been exposed to the German perspective of the war. It humanizes an enemy I've been taught to hate my whole life. The fairness of war that was frequently mentioned changed my perspective on the war as a whole. It was great learning about the African campaign from a firsthand account. This is a must rrad/listen

8 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 12-07-15

The view from regimental HQ

Hans von Luck's memoir is heavy on unit maneuvers and very light on the sort of combat detail and anecdote which makes Stephen Ambrose's writing so compelling in "Band of Brothers." One learns almost nothing about what it was like to go into battle inside a Panzer tank either tactically or from the standpoint of moment by moment experience. Very serious devotees of military history will, however, be extremely pleased with his comprehensive description of the movements of his battalions or regiments in each of their engagements especially since he was involved in so many of the crucial campaigns of the European war. He also provides a window into the workings and mindset of the Wehrmacht from the first shots of the invasion of Poland right through to the allies' inexorable advance on Berlin. We get a fascinating view of the culture of the professional military as it was confronted with command decisions ultimately in thrall to an obsessed ego maniac.

Along the way von Luck introduces us to a long series of individuals who played a variety of roles in his wartime experience. Occasionally these characters are brought to life in colorful anecdotes; at times they seem like instances of simple name dropping, and very often they are plainly heartfelt acknowledgements of revered comrades.

For me the most satisfying part of the book was the account of the author's years in Soviet prison camps. He does a fine job of bringing us into a unique world about which few others have written. I found it fascinating and often surprising.

Finally, Bronson Pinchot does an extraordinary job of narrating the book. As a theatre professional for my entire life I know that there are very few real experts on dialect. This is because there is a huge range of authentic variety in the dialects for any language. There are, in fact, dozens of German accents just as there are dozens of "southern" accents in the U.S. For a voice actor the challenge is to find one which fits the character and master it so that you can be consistent and use the language effectively to express a wide spectrum of emotion and intention. I continue to be deeply impressed by Pinchot's ability to do this with such great facility.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful