Contributor: Dan K.
Review Date: 8 Apr 2008
I had this book as a "maybe to buy" and when the local bookstore had it at 50% off, I bought it. This book started off fairly dry with a lot of info on how the book was written and where the info came from. It only got a bit better after that.
The chapters cover the beginning of the war, where there was incompetence, misinformation and horrendous losses. The middle of the book covers the recruitment of new soldiers, training and the battles that halted the German advances and ultimately turned the war in Russia's favour, Stalingrad and Kursk. The mention of the Crimean and Leningrad are also there. The last chapters cover the advances through Romania, Hungary and onto German soil.
What this book mainly states is that the Russian soldier felt they were doing their duty for Mother Russia. This includes the Gulag prisoners that were "freed" to fight and peasants and partisans that were swept up into the front line units to replace the losses. Everything was for Russia.
This book is not a book of individual stories but one long drawn out history of the Russian soldier. Some of the chapters seemed to of not flowed properly and I found myself re-reading them to get the gist of what was trying to be said. I never really got the feel that this book represented the soldiers well.
The veterans do mention some of the atrocities (rapes) but tend to brush them off and go on to talk about their comrades etc. There are very few actual battle descriptions and those that are mentioned are usually one or two sentences. There are few pictures in the book, some that I have not seen before.
There are better books out there on the Russian Army.
The few items that I did like on the book was the mention of how the Soviet government has treated their veterans, and the explanation of how some of the major losses happened with incompetent leaders at all levels.
Recommended only if you have nothing else to read.
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