Kursk 1943: The Northern Front
ISBN: 978 1 78200 819 4
Contributor: Andrew Nguyen
Review Date: 9 Dec 2015
It was the war on the Eastern Front that decided World War II in Europe and it was at the battle of Kursk in 1943 where the final turning point in the war on the Eastern Front was decided. After Kursk, the Soviet Red Army began a legendary two-year campaign that ended in Nazi Germany's complete destruction. With the opening of the Soviet archives in the aftermath of the Cold War, a major reassessment of the war on the Eastern Front took place as previously unknown details emerged to the general public. Kursk proved no exception.
Osprey Publishing had done a book in their "Campaign" series on Kursk by Mark Healy in 1993 but now it had become outdated with the passage of time and the emergence of new information from both the Russian and German military history archives. Even with the new information, it seemed at times that the southern front of the battle of Kursk has received more attention in the northern front, even in the eyes of Russians although that has begun to change. As with several other battles that Osprey has covered under its "Campaign" series, Kursk is now undergoing a makeover in the form of new books in its "Campaign" series.
Written by Robert Forczyk, an author on multiple books on the Eastern Front including some for Osprey Publishing, Kursk 1943: The Northern Front deals with the battle of Kursk on its norther front as well as the Soviet Offensive that followed the failure of the German offensive in the north. Called Operation Kutuzov, it assigned three Soviet Fronts to engage and destroy German forces within the Orel salient.
As with all Osprey "Campaign" series book, Kursk 1943 starts with a discussion of the origins of the campaign. Next are sections that detailed the opposing commanders, armies and plans for the battle for Kursk in the Northern Sector. Finally, the German attack and the Soviet counteroffensive take up the majority of the book with pictures, paintings, both 2d and 3d maps giving visual details to the action described in the text. The end of the book deals the aftermath in which the grisly results are touched upon before discussing the battlefield in the present day.
At times, it feels that the author attempted to detail two major battles instead of one despite many of the players involved in one battle participating in the battle that immediately follows. Perhaps it would have been better for Operation Kutuzov to have its own separate volume in the Osprey "Campaign" series.
Despite being a book with a limited number of pages available, Kursk 1943 has a fairly large amount of impressive content. The main content for this book is the discussion of the fighting on the ground at Kursk and even more so, during the Soviet counteroffensive which had not received many details in western sources until the opening of the Soviet archives in the 1980s and 1990s. Furthermore, the sections that discussed the opposing commanders and particularly the opposing armies are exceptionally well detailed. Overall, it does an admirable job in describing one part of one of the most important battles on the Eastern Front, one that has not received much attention compared to the other section of the main front of the battle of Kursk.
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944