Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 3 Feb 2008
Sevastopol, situated in Southern Ukraine on the western end of the Crimean Peninsula, held a strategically important position. Although Joseph Stalin's boast of Sevastopol as an unsinkable aircraft carrier was a bit exaggerated, the city was nevertheless an important air base capable of sending, and did send, aircraft to raid Axis oil fields in Romania. Thus, the German 11th Army, led by Erich von Manstein and bolstered by Romanian troops, was sent to conquer the peninsula.
Like most Osprey titles, Sevastopol 1942: Von Manstein's Triumph seems a bit light, giving a feeling that it was closer to a brochure in thickness than a book. However, again like most Osprey titles, this book is not to be judged by its size.
The content of the book is well-presented, and more importantly, written from in-depth research. The campaign in Crimea is presented by author Robert Forczyk on a day-by-day basis, carefully analyzing how one day's tactical events led to the next day's plans. His use of maps, charts, and photographs from German and Russian sources also allows further understanding of the campaign.
Near the end of the book, Forczyk attempts to convey the utter destruction of the city that the battle brought upon Sevastopol, as well as the brutal and systematic murders that the Nazi SS forces conducted. In this respect, the author fails to engage the readers, as the human losses aside from military casualty statistics are only briefly glimpsed over. To Forczyk's defense, however, the book's focus is the military aspect of the campaign, so perhaps this weakness is forgivable.
At the end of the campaign, Sevastopol was nearly wiped off of the face of the Earth with all but five to ten buildings destroyed. It was one of the greatest sieges of the Eastern Front of the European War, and Sevastopol 1942: Von Manstein's Triumph provides the details a reader will need to learn of this battle.
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939