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: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943

Author: Antony Beevor
493 pages (May 1999)
Penguin USA (Paper);
ISBN: 0140284583 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 1.15 x 8.45 x 5.49


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Editorial Reviews
Hitler made two fundamental and crippling mistakes during the Second World War: The first was his whimsical belief that the United Kingdom would eventually become his ally, which delayed his decision to launch a major invasion of Britain, whose army was unprepared for the force of blitzkrieg warfare. The second was the ill-conceived Operation Barbarossa--an invasion of Russia that was supposed to take the German army to the gates of Moscow. Antony Beevor's thoughtfully researched compendium recalls this epic struggle for Stalingrad. No one, least of all the Germans, could foretell the deep well of Soviet resolve that would become the foundation of the Red Army; Russia, the Germans believed, would fall as swiftly as France and Poland. The ill-prepared Nazi forces were trapped in a bloody war of attrition against the Russian behemoth, which held them in the pit of Stalingrad for nearly two years. Beevor points out that the Russians were by no means ready for the war either, making their stand even more remarkable; Soviet intelligence spent as much time spying on its own forces--in fear of desertion, treachery, and incompetence--as they did on the Nazi's. Due attention is also given to the points of view of the soldiers and generals of both forces, from the sickening battles to life in the gulags.
Many believe Stalingrad to be the turning point of the war. The Nazi war machine proved to be fallible as it spread itself too thin for a cause that was born more from arrogance than practicality. The Germans never recovered, and its weakened defenses were no match for the Allied invasion of 1944. We know little of what took place in Stalingrad or its overall significance, leading Beevor to humbly admit that "[t]he Battle of Stalingrad remains such an ideologically charged and symbolically important subject that the last word will not be heard for many years." This is true. But this gripping account should become the standard work against which all others should measure themselves. --Jeremy Storey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.




Devasting portrait of the freezing hell called Stalingrad, October 5, 2000
Reviewer: Paul (see more about me) from New Orleans

One of the best books written concerning the mind-numbing combat of the Russian front during WWII, Beevor's book offers a complete portrait of the battle that turned the tide against Hitler. This book is a must for any person interested in WWII.

Beevor gives the reader detailed information from the viewpoints of everyone involved in this battle: Hitler and Stalin, the generals on both the Soviet and German sides, right down to the officers and soldiers who fought in conditions which went beyond human comprehension.

"Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943", is unstinting in exposing the atrocities committed by both sides. It also exposes the follies and blunders committed by the Germans and Soviets. Readers will learn the plight of Soviet citizens who chose to fight for the Germans, understand the fate of Soviets captured by the beseiged German garrison, endure with doctors who have no medicine to treat their patients, witness the harsh fate which awaited Soviet citizens and soldiers who showed any signs of "defeatism", and see the strategies which resulted in German defeat right at the moment Hitler believed that he had won.

This book is a masterwork of the horror man can inflict upon man. I read this book during the heat of a summer which broke records, yet I got chills from reading of the freezing hell of Stalingrad. Buy it now!


Blood, ice, lice, brutality, corpses ¿ and heroism, January 16, 2001
Reviewer: Joe Haschka (see more about me) from Glendale, CA USA

Several months ago, I reviewed (5 stars) a novel entitled WAR OF THE RATS, ostensibly based on the factual battlefield achievements of the real-life, Soviet Army master sniper, Vasily Zaitsev, during the German siege of Stalingrad during World War II. Wishing to learn more about this horrific struggle, I sought out this book, STALINGRAD, a narrative history of the fight authored by Antony Beevor.

STALINGRAD begins, as it must, on June 21, 1941 with the launching of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union by three Army Groups - North, Center and South. Beevor first summarizes from a wide perspective Army Group Center's attack on, and repulse from, Moscow, and Army Group South's surge towards the Volga River and the Caucasus Mountains. Then, the focus is narrowed onto the Sixth Army's and Fourth Panzer Army's drive to Stalingrad and the Volga in the summer of '42. The last three-quarters of the volume then limits itself to the Stalingrad siege, the Soviet counterattack on, and encirclement of, the Sixth and Fourth Panzer armies, their subsequent subjugation, and, finally, the fate of the 91,000 Germans taken prisoner. The main characters of the drama are all brought onto the stage: Hitler, Paulus, Schmidt, von Richthofen, Stalin, Zhukov, Yeremenko, Chuikov, and Rokossovsky.

This is a very reader-friendly account for the simple reason that the author supplies enough information, including maps, to keep the narrative moving along without getting bogged down in the minutiae of minor troop movements and a superabundance of unit designations. He's also included (in the paperback edition) two adequate sections of photographs - always a much appreciated touch. The volume met, if not exceeded, my expectations, and I learned a lot.

During the Siege, there was desperate heroism on both sides. But, it was also war at its most brutal in ways too many to recount. I shall finish with two excerpts, both regarding war prisoners, first from the Russian viewpoint, then the German.

" 'When the (German) retreat started on 20 November, we (Soviet POWs) were put instead of horses to drag the carts loaded with ammunition and food. Those prisoners who could not drag the carts as quickly as the Feldwebel wanted were shot on the spot. In this way we were forced to pull the carts for four days, almost without any rest.' "

"Anger at the (prison camp) conditions led to (German) prisoners scraping handfuls of lice off their own bodies and throwing them at their (Soviet) guards. Such protests provoked summary execution."



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