Taki Taki

High Life | 1 August 2009

The write stuff

On board S/Y Bushido

Here are some rules of the ocean: always establish the direction of the wind before undoing your flies at sea; never go to sea without more books than days you plan to be afloat; keep in mind that new romances on board last on average less than a week. For now, let’s stick to books, as I have four loos on board and also the mother of my children. The latest literary count is four down, two to go before I hand over Bushido to my son JT and his latest flame, the great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway. Love Child by Allegra Huston, Chaplin’s Girl by Miranda Seymour, D-Day by Antony Beevor and Death of the Wehrmacht — the German Campaigns of 1942, by Robert M. Citino. I know, I know, too much Wehrmacht makes young Taki a bore, but I do have my obsessions, and Keira Knightley, martial arts, Ashley Judd, classic sailing boats and the deputy editor of The Spectator are some of them, along with the dear old W.

Citino is one of the world’s most eminent military historians, and he writes on Kulminationspunkt, the culmination point at which offensive actions falter, and the further the troops advance, the more rapidly the decline happens. Every offensive operation carries within itself the probability of its own destruction, and at some point the initial superiority of the advancing side begins to wane. Only a good commander recognises the culmination point and consolidates his position. Needless to say, many variables are in play. In the Wehrmacht’s case, the Bohemian Corporal, as Rundstedt called Hitler, ensured defeat by overrunning the culmination point and by refusing to pull back to more defensive terrain.

General Carl Wagener, chief of General Staff for the XXXX Panzerkorps, wrote that ‘if the leadership can only count on the valour of the troops, then it has done something wrong’.

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