I have placed a question mark at the end of my title but Maj. Gen. (ret'd) Mungo Melvin leaves it as a statement of fact in the title to his biography of this very enigmatic man. I am only on p. 58 of this superb book and there are another 450-odd to go so perhaps I am pushing my luck by giving it a 'rave revue' already! However, two things are instantly very clear. First, von Manstein was a superb fighting general who deserves a proper biography; and second, Gen. Melvin is a very literate and highly intelligent writer more than capable of explaining and illustrating von Manstein's strengths and weaknesses. It is also obvious from the fact that Melvin only reached the rank of Major-General that he was too intelligent for his military confreres which is why, I guess, that he went no higher in rank - intelligence, smacking of intellectualism, is not encouraged in the British army! Knowing it as I do, I suspect that the fact that he was an engineer cannot have helped, either. (I have some fellow-feeling because I, too, began what I laughingly call my military 'career' as a member of the Royal Engineers and it took me 9 years to reach the rank of corporal. Mind you, I was thick!)
One fascinating point that he raises, of which hitherto I have only vaguely suspected, is that although the German officer class was superb and well above all others at the tactical and operational level, they hardly gave a thought to what I might call the geo-strategic level. To give but two examples. You only have to say, slowly, that in 1906 von Schlieffen's operational plan was to destroy the entire French army in six weeks to realise that, the world being the way it is, that was a rather risky idea! Similarly, Hitler's assault on Russia broke the 1st rule of war which states that you should never invade Russia. (The 2nd rule is that you should never attack America however soft and dopey it looks!) The German generals religiously (and I use that word deliberately) worked out in superbly efficient detail exactly how the attack should be executed but none of them appear to have told Hitler that it was madness and that disaster would surely and inexorably follow because of geo-strategic considerations which had not been, er, considered!
I don't care, rash fellow that I am, but from the basis of having read 58 excellent and fascinating pages, if you have an interest in military history - buy this book!