Item description for STALINGRAD: How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught by Michael K. Jones & David M. Glantz...
This new history of Stalingrad offers a radical reinterpretation of the most crucial battle in World War II. Focusing on the first half of this epic clash, it reveals new information on how nearly the Germans succeeded, and the incredible courage of the Soviet fighters who held on. Red Army chief of staff Vasilevsky called August 23, 1942, when the Germans reached the Volga, "an unforgettably tragic day." The Russians had never been able to stop a good-weather German offensive, and it appeared that Stalin's namesake city would be lost. Indeed, Soviet armies on all sides were falling back before Hitler's summer offensive, and only one, the 62nd Army, was assigned to hold out in the city to defy the Wehrmacht. Who could have guessed that this sole force, surrounded on three sides, the river at its back, hiding out in ruins, would create such a bleeding sore that the Wehrmacht was never to recover?Combining eyewitness testimony of Red Army fighters with fresh archive material, this book gives dramatic insight into the thinking of Soviet commanders and the desperate mood of ordinary soldiers. Col-General Anatoly Mereshko, a staff officer to 62nd Army commander Chuikov, worked closely with the author and provided testimony that is entirely new. His accounts of the battle are supported by other key veterans and recently released war diaries and combat journals.For three months in Fall 1942 the Germans held a preponderance of force in Stalingrad as they tried to root out the diehards of 62nd Army. The latter force was nearly annihilated on several occasions, as guns from across the river failed to stem the German attacks and the Luftwaffe plunged into the chaos, bombing at will. The Russians could only respond by going underground, in caves near the river and in the labrynthine ruins of the city itself. Yet, as the rest of the Motherland held its breath, the small, surrounded force-motivated by inspirational leadership as well as a grave sense of the battle's vital importance-continued to deny the Nazis a victory. As we now know, Stalin was not idle while the courageous remnants of 62nd Army continued to defend his city. On November 19 and 21, new Soviet armies in overwhelming strength counterattacked across the Volga, turning the tables on the Germans to begin one of the most pitiful sagas in Western history.The more famous siege of the Germans, concluding on February 2, 1943, has dominated the literature of Stalingrad. This book reminds us that the greater time-line of the battle consisted of the Russians besieged, and just barely holding on. REVIEWS "Of all the books written about Stalingrad, there have not been many like this one. . . . Michael Jones probes the minds of men at the edge of the abyss, digging into the psychological factors that allowed them to withstand hopeless odds and untold horrors, and still emerge victorious."-STONE and STONE"...outstanding new book...important for two reasons: it provides a previously too-often ignored Soviet point of view of t he battle; and the compelling eyewitness testimonies of the Red Army Veterans who fought it cuts through much of the Communist era mythmaking about how the battle actually unfolded...compelling reading..."Armchair General "...a compelling Military history and analysis that lives up to its title...one of a kind testimony grounded in the words of the people who witnessed history itself."The Wisconsin Book Watch 12/2007"Although the epic quality of the battle has attracted many historians..., Jones' contribution is special for two reasons. First, he seems to have been able to dig deeper into the Soviet archives than previous authors, and he got some extraordinary testimony from survivors. Second, he addresses the core question of just what it was that motivated these men to keep on fighting, given the low probability of survival and the terrible conditions. The order to hold every position until death was well known, but Jones demolishes the notion that the soldiers fought solely under duress. ...compelling and moving."Foreign Affairs, March/ April 2008"... compelling, draws us into a vivid, illuminating account of how much of a "near run thing" the legendary Red Army victory was..."World War II Magazine, 04/2008
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Reviews - What do customers think about STALINGRAD: How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught?
This book earned my respect... Sep 17, 2008
After some initial disappointment with this book I finally warmed up to it. It succeeded for me in capturing the human face of a kind of courage that almost can't be believed. Warning: This is not a history of the Battle of Stalingrad but more a written tribute to the city's Russian(vice Soviet)defenders. Normally I would not like this "sentimental drivel" but this book played on my emotions like the movie Rudy on a Notre Dame Football fan. Totally fitting that much of this story is tied to Comrade General Chuikov as he is one of the central figures in it. Highly recommended if you are looking to empathize with human beings in one of the most brutal circumstances in modern history, many of them heroes, a few were cowards, this book is their story.
The Story from the Russian Side -- Unique, Unvarnished & Accurate Sep 16, 2008
This book is a great addition to the literature on the battle of Stalingrad and is a "must" to be on the shelf of every reader interested in World War II.
The vast majority of books about the Eastern Front (Germany against the Soviet Union) available in the US are written from the German side due to the availability of source material from the Germans and the paucity of non-propaganda material from the Soviets. The battle of Stalingrad has been no exception. Lately, however, historians like David Glantz and others have been attempting to rectify that deficiency, and this book fits into that genre.
However, this work by Jones is even more important than most as it makes much new material available to the American reader. Books such as Marshal Chuikov's memoirs were written hewing to the Soviet line and could not be taken at face value. With this book, Chuikov's memoirs are effectively modified to what actually took place.
Jones clearly outlines that the German 6th Army could have easily taken Stalingrad had the high command not altered Case Blue and transferred the 4th Panzer Army into the Caucasus. Almost no one in the Soviet armies fighting at that time south of Voronezh thought Stalingrad could be defended successfully -- a belief that continued through the battle until November.
From the Soviet side the successful defense of Stalingrad was an incomprehensible miracle, based on the unbelievable courage and fighting by small groups of Soviet soldiers. Twice it looked like catastrophy loomed and defeat was at hand, and twice the Germans were beaten back. Once was on September 14th when Rodimstev's 13th Guards Division was forced to cross the Volga in daylight and under heavy bombing, artillery, and machinegun fire. Less than half of the first wave of reinforcing troops crossed successfully to attack the German spearheads and bolster the defense. Again in the middle of October the situation became critical, and by the middle of November the entire Soviet 62nd Army was reduced to about 7,000 effective fighters with limited ammunition.
Jones carefully depicts the psychological forces at work holding the morale of the 62nd Army together and the new tactics devised by Chuikov that were effective in slowing down and halting the German advance. He contrasts the German commander Paulus who was more of a staff officer, administrating and issuing orders from afar, with Chuikov who led from the front with a headquarters less than 800 yards from German lines.
Communism and Fascism rarely make appearances in this account, and much of the new material comes from former Soviet participants of the battle (& Chuikov's son & Rodimtev's daughter) who are no longer fettered by having to produce communist propaganda. As a result, the work possesses an authenticity not present in earlier works.
In short, all students of World War II and especially those of the Eastern Front should BUY and READ this book.
It deserves the five stars I gave it, and my only (very small) criticism is that it becomes a little repetitious at times on some of the details. The crisp writing, however, easily overcomes such minor faults.
Interesting and informative Jul 4, 2008
I found this book to be interesting because there are many quotes from people who fought in Stalingrad. The brutality of the street fighting section was of particular interest to me. Of other high notes on the book are the chapters of Pavlov's house and a uniqu view of Chuikov. It looks into the mindsets of the troops and is eye opening. It covers a lot but loses some details along the way. From a research point of view, it hurts the rating.
This doesn't read like a normal history book in that column A attacked column B. It is refreshing to read the personal accounts. One cannot help but imagine being there. Paulus is made out to be a [...] which may or may not be deserved. I would not want to be in his shoes to say the least. This book should be read if your into the day to day combat of both German and Soviet forces. It gives a lot of understanding and visualization.
Purely STALINGRAD!!!! Jun 19, 2008
This is the book that doesn't describe the usual myths about the battle for Stalingrad, instead the author brings newer and more interesting evidence on this struggle. His book includes numerous interviews with other Soviet veterans, with ranks ranging from a private to a high ranking officier. The details on the street battles are really cool with detailed descriptions of key fights, such as the defence of Pavlov's House or the fighting in ruined Red October Factory Complex. The book also includes many maps and very rare photographs, some of them obtained from personal archives of General Chuykov. Overall this is a unique book and I am very satisfied that I read it.
Wow! Read it in two days. May 24, 2008
I have eight books on the battle of Stalingrad. Even though this is not the usual combat history concerning the battle, it is one of the most interesting, captivating and thought provoking accounts on the great battle that I have read. Yes, it does focus on the Russian perspective instead of the German (refreshing for a change, thank goodness)! It will be a welcome addition to anyone's collection of the battle of Stalingrad.