Item description for TANK RIDER: Into the Reich with the Red Army by Evgeni Bessnov...
Now in paperback!The dramatic memoirs of a Russian officer on the Eastern Front.
The defeat of Germany from the perspective of the Red Army.
Honest and irrepressibly frank, Bessonov's dramatic memoirs reveal just what it was like to fight on the Eastern Front. There he played a part in this clash of titans and he witnessed the shuddering collapse of the Third Reich.
The cataclysmic battle of Kursk in 1943 put an end to Hitler's hopes of victory on the Eastern Front and it was Bessonov's first battle. From then on the Germans were forced into a long, bitter retreat that ended in the ruins of Berlin in 1945. At the forefront of the drive to expel the Germans from the Soviet Union, and push on to the gates of the Reich's capital, were men like Evgeni Bessonov. A tank rider, and officer in an elite guards unit of the Red Army, Bessonov rode tanks from Kursk, through a western Russia and Poland devastated by the Germans, and right into the heart of Nazi Germany.
Tank Rider is the atmospheric memoir of Evgeni Bessonov telling of his years of service in the vanguard of the Red Army and daily encounters with the German foe. He brings large-scale battles alive, recounts the sniping and skirmishing which tried and tested soldiers on both sides and narrates the overwhelming tragedy and horror of apocalyptic warfare on the Eastern Front.
Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at promiseangels.com!
Reviews - What do customers think about TANK RIDER: Into the Reich with the Red Army?
Viewing WWII from the back of a tank Feb 21, 2008
Tank Rider by Evgeni Bessonov
Tank Rider tells of Mr. Bessonov's time as a junior officer (platoon leader) in the 49th Mechanized Brigade in the 4th Tank Army (at the end of the war the Army was promoted to the 4th Guards Tank Army). In telling us of his experiences in WWII, Mr. Bessonov includes a quick summary of his childhood and his preparations to become an officer in the Russian Army. A surprising detail for me was that he was conscripted in August 1941 (initally to prepare defensive locations for the retreating Russian Army) and did not serve in combat till August 1943. Surprising because I believed that the Soviets were rushing people to the front to stem the German tide. Upon reaching the Front Mr. Bessonov intoduces us to the different men fighting with him (enlisted and officers) and describes in a very down to earth way what he experienced and remembers about fighting the "Fritz's". Interestingly, Mr. Bessonov is direct and to the point about Russian losses (most campaigns he participates in have 80-90% casualties) and while he doesn't always appreciate his superiours, he does an admirable job leading his men and being recognised by them. Furthermore, Mr. Bessonov accurately remembers the weapons his forces used and their path and battle tactics (from a general sense) employed. Unfortunetly, Mr. Bessonov is not always as complementary toward the Germans (unless his own forces were at a real disadvantage) and remembers every German tank as a Tiger (yes, US forces weren't the only ones with Tigerphobia). Rating wise this is a book begging to be a 5 star book because we've had so few histories come out of Russia on WWII without political spin, and this one does it greatly! Unfortunetly I have to give it 4 stars due mainly to the poor work done by the translator or the publisher. While the story is still outstanding, many paragraphs have run-on sentences or incomplete English. I would have loved to have seen this book polished a little more. Mr. Bessonov's observations are worth noting and comparable to other Western personal accounts from WWII. The photo's that are included are nice, the maps are a little lacking. I would have love to have had one of the Eastern Front showing his general path included with the maps that are provided. I also would have loved seeing maps of specific battle locations (assuming they could be identified after all these years). A nice treat though is the section in back titled Brothers in Arms. In this section Mr. Bessonov provides a summary of the different people he served with, men and women. A very nice tribute to them. Btw, incase you couldn't tell from the title, rather than riding in a halftrack like German or American soldier did in Mechanized units, Mr. Bessonov's troops rode their tanks into battle, a very dangerous means to get there. Bottom line, a very nice book from a people not often heard from . A must read for those interested in the Russian Front from the common Russian soldiers perspective.
Poor translation hurt unusual memior Aug 15, 2006
Unfortunately the Russian translator constantly confused the words shell and mine and really had a poor grasp of grammar. On the positive side the author tells a reasonably detailed story even though he was 80 years old when he wrote it. I hoped for more details about infantry combats etc... but I enjoyed this book especially since so few written by Russian soldiers have shown up here.
A good story that needed a better editor May 11, 2006
The story that the author tells is excellent. As another reviewer said, we need more like it. Personal accounts were discouraged by the USSR, and the veterans able to write them are getting old.
My complaint about the book is that the editor or the translator did a poor job of rendering the story in English. There are countless run-on sentences that should've been fixed. One can still enjoy the book, but it needed a better editor.
Fascinating Account May 3, 2006
I just finished this book and found it to be one of the most interesting WWII memoirs that I've read. Here's what I liked about it:
1) This is the most honest Russian account of WWII that I've ever read. The author tells it like he sees it, even when it is not necessarily flattering for the Red Army: the absence of Russian fighter cover, tankers refusing to advance against panzerfausts or Tigers, fraticide, bungling, commanders mysteriously always absent from the fighting, etc. That said, the author's pride in his men and his unit's achievements is obvious.
2) Unlike some other military memoirs, where the author might start the war as a colonel and end as an army commander, this author remains a platoon leader for almost two years of constant fighting. While he seems to have been constantly passed over for promotion, he was constantly assigned to the most dangerous missions in the leading elements of his brigade (overall, this book really reminded of IN DEADLY COMBAT by Bidermann).
3) While the book focuses on the fighting, there is also plenty about rest periods, what they ate, how they interacted with civilians, etc. From this perspective, this book is vastly more informative about the Russian soldiers' experience during the war than the more highly acclaimed IVAN'S WAR and more interesting than books like FIGHTING FOR THE SOVIET MOTHERLAND by Loza.
What didn't I like? Nothing really...not many maps, but they are not really missed given the small scale of the engagements described in the book and the good descriptions by the author.
grittty, realistic look at Russian tank crews and infantry pushing into Germany in WWII Jan 26, 2006
These memoirs written a few years after the author's 50-year career in the Russian Army "are a look back at the life of a typical member of the Red Army" in World War II. Bessonov was an officer in a tank detachment; but lower-ranking field officers such as he was at the time were out in front of their men in advances and engagements. The memoir is shorn of any heroics or sentimentality. Nor does its author focus on himself any more than necessary to make for a sense of continuity or set the scene for the reader. The style is like an officer's "after-action report"--in this case one long report--going little beyond what happened to be read by others for purposes of intelligence-gathering or a comprehensive military history. "We came under fire from three German assault guns, which turned out to be some 50 metres from us. We had to take cover behind trees, as the assault guns fired at almost very single soldier." For the reader, such spareness makes in seem he is almost participating in the action. In battle, there's no time or occasion to think or feel really--only sheer action and reaction, the way the former officer writes. Bessonov joined the Red Army at the climatic 1943 battle of Kursk dooming Nazi Germany to eventual defeat on the Eastern Front. But it wasn't until two years later that the author and his tank crews and accompanying infantrymen victoriously enterered Berlin. In his plainly-written, though gripping war memoir, Bessonov brings the reader every step of the conflict-filled way.