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Feldgrau Author: Mansal Denton

Posted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:18 pm
by John P. Moore
I wish to welcome Mansal Denton to the company of Feldgrau published authors. As Mansal has experienced, just getting one's book printed may be only an early obstacle in getting the book into the hands of readers. Mansal’s first book, Battle for Navra, 1944 is finally available for order from Amazon here where people can also find a nice review from Doug Nash. ... 303&sr=1-1

Congratulations on getting your book published, Mansal, and best wishes for further success.

Now maybe Mansal can tell us a little more about his book and his research methodology.


Re: Feldgrau Author: Mansal Denton

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:30 am
by Mansal D
Thank you for the introduction Mr. Moore. I am very humbled to be added to the ranks of the fellow Feldgrau authors. What an honor.

It was a struggle to get the book to Amazon and ready to ship to customers, but finally it has happened. I was becoming very worried.

To be honest I started researching the battles in and around Narva from a very young age. I contacted a fellow forum member and veteran, Rudolph Salvermoser who lived only a short drive north of me. After some of his stories I looked for information on my own.

Eventually I was buying extremely rare books on the subject, speaking with other veterans, and translating archival research (both from German sources as well as Russian) to help understand the battle/siege better. To compile my thoughts I began to write down the stories from various veterans as they matched with unit movements from the archival research. After a while I just had a bunch of useful material and a plethora of amazing photographs so I contacted a few publishers to see if anyone was interested in the idea.

After some help from fellow Feldgrau authors I polished the manuscript a bit, took it to a small publishing house and completed the work.

As the introduction says, one of my main goals is to view the battle of Narva from the perspective of the foreign volunteers. I'm sure many forum members are familiar with the battle, but there was a high concentration of foreign volunteers that took part (Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Estonian, Flemish / Wallonian, and Swedish) and I really tried to understand their desire to fight against what they perceived as "the Communist threat" to Europe. I used Russian material to assist with the analytical data (troop movements and reports), but focued mainly on the German perspective and more importantly on the foreign volunteer perspective.

Now that members can finally get their copy I hope that everyone is pleased with the work. There are a lot of unpublished photographs and a very detailed appendix so I am hopeful it will get positive reviews. Nonetheless, one learns more from his mistakes than his successes so I hope that any negative comments can also be shared with me.

Currently I am working on what I am tentatively calling Hitler's First Siege: The Battle for Warsaw, 1939 which will, obviously, focus on the first month of the war and the fighting in and around Poland's capital. For that I am spending 4 months here in Poland where I am working quite hard to gather research from the Polish perspective.

Best regards, Mansal

Re: Feldgrau Author: Mansal Denton

Posted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 3:25 pm
by John P. Moore
Mansal - What is going on with your book? Has anyone else here read it and care to comment on it?


Re: Feldgrau Author: Mansal Denton

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:34 pm
by Mansal D
Something like 400 copies have sold at the moment. I have received some nice comments in my PM box, or via e-mail. Actually Doug Nash has read and complimented the book. I'll post his Amazon review:

"A lot of ink has been spilled covering some of the better-known decisive battles that took place on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945 - epic confrontations such as the ones that took place before the gates of Moscow, inside and outside of Stalingrad, the siege of Leningrad, Kursk, Operation Bagration and the Battle for Berlin - but not much on the myriad battles that took place between these great events. One such `forgotten" battle involved the fighting for the Estonian city of Narva. The struggle for this city raged for nearly six months, from the first Red Army offensive that began on 3 February 1944 until it fell on 26 July. During this battle, thousands of men were killed and wounded on both sides - mainly Russians and Germans, of course - but also thousands of Europeans, including Estonians, Lithuanians, Dutch, Belgians, Danes and Norwegians, volunteers (for the most part) who fought in the ranks of the Waffen-SS. One question that has remained unasked, and that fledging author Mansal Denton has attempted to answer in his new book, Battle for Narva 1944 (published 2010 by History Facts of Switzerland) has tried to answer is why did these men, who could have stayed safe at home and awaited liberation from Nazi occupation, choose to endanger their lives and cast their lots with Hitler's Germany? Mr. Denton dedicates a good portion of his book to answering that question, but primarily focuses the larger part of his effort to describing the tactical and operational events as they unfold day-by-day.

More of a classic siege than a fluid battle, the German defense of Narva withstood several all-out attempts by the Red Army to cross the Narva River and seize the two flanking fortresses of the Hermannsburg and Ivangorod and throw them out of Estonia. Though stymied until they were able to outflank the fortress at Narva several miles to the north, Stalin's forces expended hundreds of tanks and nearly 100,000 men in seemingly pointless frontal assaults that eventually bled the European defenders white, leading to their eventual evacuation of the city and headlong retreat to the temporary safety of the Tannenberg position to the west. With the fall of Narva, Germany's Army Group North abandoned its hold on Estonia and dug in to await the Red Army's inevitable summer offensive.
Mr. Denton's book reads like a blow-by-blow description of the battle, drawing the reader into the unfolding events almost as if he were standing in the German command post. Relying heavily on German war diaries kept in the Bundesarchiv-Militaerarchiv in Freiburg, Soviet war records stored in the TsAMO Central Military Archive in Podolsk, surviving veterans' interviews and a wealth of post-war German and Soviet accounts, the author has done his homework well, interweaving the various stories in a seamless fashion. If the reader, whether a war-gamer or history buff, is looking for detail, this book has got it, with a plethora of notes and sources detailing numbers of men, tanks, artillery pieces, and aircraft used in each of the several main battles and supporting engagements that took place during the siege. He has thoughtfully provided an extremely useful set of appendices, that describe equivalent military ranks, Soviet and German orders of battle, troop losses, and military biographies of the key German and European leaders.

Rounding out the book is a superb set of maps that clearly and graphically portrays the action, painstakingly detailing the location and movement of the various units, both German and Soviet, as they grappled with one another during the six-month siege. They are some of the best that the reviewer has ever seen and compliment the text superbly. Also noteworthy is the section of the book dedicated to contemporary photographs, many of which were taken from newsreels and have not been seen in the west by most historians. Mr. Denton has also used hundreds of photographs from the German and Russian archives, from German and European veterans, and most interestingly, a number of photos taken by the author himself showing how various key locations where fighting took place appear today. These pictures, juxtaposed with photographs that date back to the time of the fighting, provide the reader a "then and now" experience, allowing one to gain a better appreciation of why these locations played such key roles during the battle.
The book itself is in the large 8" x 11" hardcover format and the text is easily readable without having to resort to a magnifying glass. Overall, a superb first effort and this reviewer, for one, is looking forward to Mr. Denton's future efforts."