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Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942–1943

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The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the fi The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five-month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost; then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy. This battle for the ruins of a city cost more than a million lives. Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions. As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable.


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The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the fi The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five-month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost; then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy. This battle for the ruins of a city cost more than a million lives. Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions. As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable.

30 review for Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942–1943

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    "You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia' - but only slightly less well-known is this: 'Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line'"! -- Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Or the European portion of Russia. That's good advice. For whatever reason, though, the lure of Russia - its vast steppes, its vast resources, its vast and bloody history - has "You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia' - but only slightly less well-known is this: 'Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line'"! -- Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Or the European portion of Russia. That's good advice. For whatever reason, though, the lure of Russia - its vast steppes, its vast resources, its vast and bloody history - has proven irresistible, stretching back to early Mongol invasions. The two most famous fools who dared strive for Moscow were Napoleon and Hitler. Napoleon was failed by the logistics of his day and age; the harder he pressed Kutuzov, and the deeper he got into Russia, the longer his supply line became. When he reached his goal, he ran out of food, and turned back in the midst of a cruel winter. On his retreat, Napoleon famously remarked that "from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a single step." The temptation when dealing with Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, is to compare its failure to that of Napoleon, and chalk it up to Russia's tremendous size and unforgiving winters. Undoubtedly, the winters were rough, and the Germans unprepared, but as Anthony Beevor makes clear in Stalingrad, the fault did not lie in the weather, but in Hitler and the stars. Operation Barbarossa was a huge gamble, one that many of Hitler's generals (and his generally imbecilic foreign minister Ribbentrop) wanted him to avoid. However, due to Stalin's willful blindness, it almost worked. Indeed, it should have worked. Without Hitler's constant bumbling intervention, it would have worked. Instead, the Germans attacked Stalingrad and nearly captured it. Then, the Russians surrounded the Germans, and the attackers became the attacked. The Germans at Stalingrad surrendered, and eventually the entire German invasion was turned. The mistake at issue in Beevor's Stalingrad is that there was ever a battle of Stalingrad in the first place. Specifically, in the second summer of the German invasion, the Nazi armies were poised to sprint to the Caucuses and seize the Soviet oil fields. Hitler intervened and split the German Army Group, sending Group B to Stalingrad, where it was eventually chewed to pieces. This is all explained in the beginning sections of Stalingrad, which are dedicated to the the planning of Operation Barbarossa, the start of the invasion, the battle for Moscow, and the first Russian winter. I found this to be the weakest part of the book, and it actually made me pause and consider continuing. Not that I didn't appreciate the purpose. I firmly believe that even the most subject-specific history book should provide a little context. In this case, though, the overview was not only cursory, but confusing. Beevor jumps quickly from event to event, battle to battle, using a series of unconnected anecdotes. He tries to cover too much subject matter in too few pages, so there is no room to breath or even reflect on what you're reading. Oh, the Germans executed thousands of Jews at Babi Yar? That's interesting, but we're moving right along. The situation is not helped by the small number of maps. Beevor expends a lot of ink detailing troop movements. However, without a map showing where that body of soldiers was actually positioned on this earth, it's all a lot of numbers and letters signifying nothing. If you want me to care that the 81st Cavalry Division in the 4th Cavalry Corps crossed the Kalmyk steppe to the southern flank, you will kindly have to show me where the Kalmyk steppe is located. (I'm guessing it's...somewhere to the south). Once the preliminaries are taken care of, and the focus is placed on General Paulus' fight for Stalingrad, things get better. At the very least, the writing is at times vivid and evocative. Beevor has a novelistic flair for creating memorable images. Take, for instance, this description of Russian troops crossing the Volga to enter Stalingrad: The crossing was probably most eerie for those in the rowing boats, as the water gently slapped the bow, and the rowlocks creaked in unison. The distant crack of rifle shots and the thump of shell bursts sounded hollow over the expanse of river. Then, German artillery, mortars and any machine-guns close enough to the bank switched their aim. Columns of water were thrown up in midstream, drenching the occupants of the boats. The silver bellies of stunned fish soon glistened on the surface...Some men stared at the water around them to avoid the sight of the far bank, rather like a climber refusing to look down. Others, however, kept glancing ahead to the blazing buildings on the western shore, their steel-helmeted heads instinctively withdrawn into the shoulders...As darkness intensified, the huge flames silhouetted the shells of tall buildings on the bank high above them and cast grotesque shadows. Sparks flew up in the night air...As they approached the shore, they caught the smell of charred buildings and the sickly stench from decaying corpses under the rubble. Even during this middle section of the book, while the Germans were still on the offensive, I still had problems with the book's coherence. A lot of times, the paragraphs on the page seemed absolute strangers to each other. Also, many paragraphs just left me scratching my head. For instance, one paragraph dealing with the Russian response to deserition stated that "[o:]n a rare occasion...the authorities considered that officers had been overharsh." After giving this statement, Beevor goes on to quote a story about a nineteen year-old lieutenant being executed after two of his men deserted. Huh? The proposition in the paragraph was that sometimes even the Russians realized they were nuts; but instead of supporting this statement, Beevor tells a story that shows just the opposite. This is not to get nit-picky, but as I read, I often had this almost unconscious sensation that something was slightly off. The final third of the book, though, is quite strong. Once the Germans are on the defensive, battling Russians and the winter, Beevor's narrative really grips you. It's a good book to read while sitting in an armchair on a frigid February day (so you can sympathize, without having to empathize). Along with the details of battle, there are fascinating discussions (is fascinating the right word?) about topics as varied as medical care, starvation, frostbite, and Russian vodka rations (they often went into battle drunk, natch). Stalingrad is a hard battle to write about. There are big troop movements leading up to the fight in the city. And there are big troop movements that lead to the encirclement of the German Army. However, most of the bitter fighting within the city itself was small unit action. There are certain locations of note - such as the Tractor Factory - but a lot of the descriptions of the fighting are vague and generalized, since they come from the individual soldiers, and they certainly couldn't know what was going on. Beevor is at his absolute best when he leaves the generalities and finds a specific character or two to follow for a couple of pages. These mini-arcs were engrossing, none more so than Beevor's tale of Smyslov (Russian Army intelligence) and Dyatlenko (of the Russian NKVD). These two men were ordered to give a message to General Paulus. And in the Russian army, orders mean something. After braving German fire, they convince a Nazi sentry to bring them into a bunker (after they are blindfolded with their own parkas). Once in the bunker, they finally convince the German company commander to take the message to his commander. But then the commander comes back and says that he won't deliver the message. When the Russians ask the German to sign a receipt for the message, which they can take to their superiors, the German refuses. This is almost Shakespearean-level farce. One of the oddities of this book is that I found my rooting interest to be with the Germans. I don't think this is entirely my fault, because there is a distinct anti-Soviet bias in Beevor's telling. While the German atrocities in Russia are briefly recounted at the book's start, the Russian atrocities - against their own troops, no less! - are covered in great detail. Beevor even devotes an entire chapter to explaining how much the Germans loved Christmas, and how they tried to celebrate despite freezing and starving to death. Beevor even compares and contrasts the letters home from the troops. While the German soldiers wrote tenderly about how much they missed hearth and home, Beevor makes clear that the Russian letters were filled with mindless propaganda. Stalingrad was known as "the fateful city." It was Germany's high water mark. Even as Stalingrad was falling, Rommel was losing in North Africa and America was gearing up to (finally) get in the fight. From that point on, Germany would know nothing but defeat. In hindsight, we are left to gasp at how close we came to a world dominated by Nazis. Some might find it hard to believe that we escaped through what appears to be luck - luck that Hitler made such a string of foolhardy decisions. I'd hardly call this luck, though. To me, it was inevitable. Our character is our fate. A Napoleonic dictum says that to gain power, one must be absolutely petty, but to wield power, one must exercise true greatness. It makes perfect sense that a self-aggrandizing, paranoid-delusional sociopath such as Hitler would strive for absolute power and, with a few breaks along the way, eventually achieve it. But it also makes just as much sense that a self-aggrandizing, paranoid-delusional sociopath would be utterly unable to exercise that power, and would make stupid decisions in the unsupported belief that he was always right. These traits ensured that he'd get as far as Stalingrad and then self-destruct.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a painful book to read, as it shows the horror of the war on both sides. The half-year battle for the streets of Stalingrad was an unremitting horror, with not only two armies, but thousands of civilians jammed into a city that was being bombed into rubble while everyone was starving or dying of thirst. (Apparently this book demonstrated the dangers of trying to substitute snow for water.) Just when the battle for the streets of Stalingrad appeared to be turning into a stalemate, with Ge This is a painful book to read, as it shows the horror of the war on both sides. The half-year battle for the streets of Stalingrad was an unremitting horror, with not only two armies, but thousands of civilians jammed into a city that was being bombed into rubble while everyone was starving or dying of thirst. (Apparently this book demonstrated the dangers of trying to substitute snow for water.) Just when the battle for the streets of Stalingrad appeared to be turning into a stalemate, with General Vassili Chuikov of the Soviet 62nd Army fighting Paulus's German Sixth Army to a virtual draw, Marshal Zhukov initiated an encircling movement that caught the Nazis unaware. Both Hitler and his generals were astonished that the Russians had so many more men, tanks, and planes when it had seemed that there was nothing left on the Russian side but stumbling starvelings. In a trice, it was the Sixth Army that turned into stumbling starvelings sans food, sans ammunition, sans fuel, sans everything. Hitler forbade Paulus to surrender. It was his fervent wish that the whole army commit suicide so that they could go down as heroes. They didn't: tens of thousands surrendered. But Hitler and Goebbels tried to buffalo the German people into thinking that the whole army was wiped out. In the battle between Hitler and Stalin, it appeared that the Russian was the more reasonable. Hitler had no notion whatsoever of supplying a large army that was thousands of miles from its base in Central Europe. He just thought that his armies could supply themselves by living off the newly occupied territories. That worked to a certain extent, but how does an army make its tanks and cannon work without replacement equipment? And what about ammunition? As the Eastern Front collapsed toward the Volga, the Russians were closer to their base of supply in the Urals and around Moscow, while the Germans were dangerously stretched. Antony Beevor has written an excellent history which should be required reading for those who think that D-Day was what broke the back of the Nazi war machine. The Wehrmacht units on the Ostfront would have paid to serve against the Americans and the British, instead of dying by the millions on the pitiless steppes of Russia.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    List of Illustrations List of Maps Preface to the New Edition Preface --Stalingrad Appendix A: German and Soviet Orders of Battle, 19 November 1942 Appendix B: The Statistical Debate: Sixth Army Strength in the Kessel References Source Notes Select Bibliography Index

  4. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    So, I'm watching a movie in German about the siege of Stalingrad last night while I'm knitting and my first thought was 'but I won't have a clue what is going on' and my second is 'fair enough....why should I have an unfair advantage over the poor fuckers who were there in the thick of it.' Just because I'm watching the movie, it shouldn't give me an edge. Afterwards, explaining this to my mother, she asked, so did you get it? And I'm like 'nope, but neither did they.' Bunches of people being con So, I'm watching a movie in German about the siege of Stalingrad last night while I'm knitting and my first thought was 'but I won't have a clue what is going on' and my second is 'fair enough....why should I have an unfair advantage over the poor fuckers who were there in the thick of it.' Just because I'm watching the movie, it shouldn't give me an edge. Afterwards, explaining this to my mother, she asked, so did you get it? And I'm like 'nope, but neither did they.' Bunches of people being confused in the snow and doing horrible things to each other. This I greatly regret: I have a friend, Josek, who was in that siege as one of many idealistic Polish volunteers who made the incredible trip there, survived despite getting TB, and was given a loaf of bread to set him on his way back to Poland - if you ask me it's more than a one loaf walk, but anyway. His story is as amazing as you'd expect and a few years ago I decided to start interviewing him properly in order to tell it. And then, in that way life is fucking unfair to people who deserve better he fell over and died. Josek was tiny, so small and frail that a strong breeze was his natural enemy. He died falling over on a trip to the bathroom - that doesn't surprise me - but to have survived some of the worst of all the history of the world first and then die that way is ridiculous. Still. He would have shrugged, if he could. He would have said that's life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    This is an excellent account of the battle of Stalingrad, I'd place it next to 'Enemy at the Gates'. The author gives you an overview of the military situation on the Eastern Front prior to the German Offensive towards Stalingrad on the Volga. The author tells the story of this terrible battle through the accounts of those soldiers who endured this inferno and survived as well as using letters and diaries of those who didn't! This is a story of the fighting, not of the strategy and tactics behin This is an excellent account of the battle of Stalingrad, I'd place it next to 'Enemy at the Gates'. The author gives you an overview of the military situation on the Eastern Front prior to the German Offensive towards Stalingrad on the Volga. The author tells the story of this terrible battle through the accounts of those soldiers who endured this inferno and survived as well as using letters and diaries of those who didn't! This is a story of the fighting, not of the strategy and tactics behind the Armies. It's a good account of the battle and well worth the time to read. You'll feel for those common soldiers, both German & their Allies and the Russians. A great book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was more from the 6th Army/German perspective, which wasn’t what I was expecting. But seeing as my background on this event comes more from the Russian perspective, so it was an interesting read. This book covers a lot of ground, starting with Operation Barbarossa (well, really even a little bit before that) and follows through some prison camps that extended into the 1950s! There is a part in this book that describes a German officer who gets flown out of the 6th Army encirclement (la This book was more from the 6th Army/German perspective, which wasn’t what I was expecting. But seeing as my background on this event comes more from the Russian perspective, so it was an interesting read. This book covers a lot of ground, starting with Operation Barbarossa (well, really even a little bit before that) and follows through some prison camps that extended into the 1950s! There is a part in this book that describes a German officer who gets flown out of the 6th Army encirclement (late in the battle) describing the desperate situation to Hitler. This officer realizes as he is describing events how out of touch Hitler is, he thinks that Hitler can only think of flags and maps and not people and reality. Which looking back is pretty obvious, but I wonder why other people didn’t just stop the maddness. How crazy do you have to be to send your fellow countrymen to their certain deaths. But how much crazier do you have to be really to just stand by while that happens? The Russian losses are incredible, but to their tiny bit of credit, they were invaded and spent all they could defending. What they did after was indefensible, but here in the early parts of the war I can cut them a little slack. This is a pretty dense and often hard to read book (not technically, but on an emotional level) and would only recommend to history buffs.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Ce livre a gagné trois prix majeurs: le Wolfson, le Samuel Johnson et l'Hawthorndon. Ce qui manqué aux Palmeres d'Antony Beevor, c'est le prix Nobel de littérature accordé à un historien pour la dernière fois en 1953. Je suis de l'avis ferme que Beevor le merit. Diplomé du college célebre Sandhurst, Beevor admire profondement les grands guerriers sans les idolatrer. Pourtant, le genie de Beevor c'est de mettre les souffrances des petits gens aux premier plans de ces récits de batailles. Les simple Ce livre a gagné trois prix majeurs: le Wolfson, le Samuel Johnson et l'Hawthorndon. Ce qui manqué aux Palmeres d'Antony Beevor, c'est le prix Nobel de littérature accordé à un historien pour la dernière fois en 1953. Je suis de l'avis ferme que Beevor le merit. Diplomé du college célebre Sandhurst, Beevor admire profondement les grands guerriers sans les idolatrer. Pourtant, le genie de Beevor c'est de mettre les souffrances des petits gens aux premier plans de ces récits de batailles. Les simples soldats allemdands ont recu un rude choc culturel sur le front de l'est. Ils ont du faire face à un enemi qui refusait de lacher. Des pièges les plus inattendus et les plus surprenants les attendait partout. Mais les chiens explosaient. Pour leur part, les officiers allemends avaient trop peur de leur chef d'état capricieux pour trouver une stratégie valable. L'autre coté le brilliant Zhubov avait l'entiére confiance de Stalin qui a fait fabriquer à la demande de Zhubov trois cent milles uniformes blancs et autant de paire de skis. Tandis que les Allemands essayaient de se rechauffer dans leurs casernes, les Russes les ont éncirlclé. Les allemands ont fini par subir une des défaites les plus absolues de l'histoire militaire. C'est un livre à lire pour qui que ca soit qui aime ou l'histoire ou la litterature.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Stunning account of perseverance, deprivation and stupidity surrounding one of the most pivotal battles of WW II. In the summer of 1942 German axis forces descended on the small city of Stalingrad, Russia, pollution 400,000. The city was of no real significance other than it carried Joesph Stalin's name. Germany thought it would be an easy win for their propaganda machine. It proved otherwise. Over the next 9 months, the Axis threw roughly 1 MM well armed expertly trained soldiers, supported by Stunning account of perseverance, deprivation and stupidity surrounding one of the most pivotal battles of WW II. In the summer of 1942 German axis forces descended on the small city of Stalingrad, Russia, pollution 400,000. The city was of no real significance other than it carried Joesph Stalin's name. Germany thought it would be an easy win for their propaganda machine. It proved otherwise. Over the next 9 months, the Axis threw roughly 1 MM well armed expertly trained soldiers, supported by the famed Luftwaffe, at the city. Russia countered with over 1 MM poorly trained, poorly armed, mostly forcibly drafted farm boys as cannon fodder. Toward the end, many Russian soldiers were not even issued weapons. They were told to pair up and pick up the weapon of a comrade when the comrade was killed. The Luftwaffe mercilessly bombed and cannons shelled city for months. The sSoldiers prowled the streets engaging close quarters fighting and sniping. They turned the city to rubble. Both armies were decimated. An estimated 850,000 Axis soldiers were killed or wounded. Over 1 MM Russians were killed or wounded. Germany lost and retreated in its first major defeat of WW II. Beevor's account is highly readable, well researched and astounding. It is considered one of the seminal works on the battle and deservedly so. As a companion piece, I recommend the movie Enemy at the Gates starring Jude Law and Ed Harris. Law plays Vassili Zaitsev who became a Hero of Russia for killing 225 Axis soldiers including 11 opposing snipers during the battle. Harris plays a fictional German sniper. While they are pitted against each other in a fanciful cat-and-mouse Hollywood contest, the visuals--the devastation of the city and deprivation of citizens unable to escape--bring Beevor's account to life. One of my favorite historical reads. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book is an astounding piece of work. Beevor does not have the moral resonance of a Martin Gilbert or the sparkling language of a Dan Van Der Vat, but in his own stolid way he tells a damn good story. Painstakingly researched and grippingly told, the book begins with Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's ill-conceived and treacherous plan to invade the Soviet Union. As we all know, this attempt foundered after the Soviet counter-attacks around Stalingrad in the Northern winter of 1942-43. Beevor at This book is an astounding piece of work. Beevor does not have the moral resonance of a Martin Gilbert or the sparkling language of a Dan Van Der Vat, but in his own stolid way he tells a damn good story. Painstakingly researched and grippingly told, the book begins with Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's ill-conceived and treacherous plan to invade the Soviet Union. As we all know, this attempt foundered after the Soviet counter-attacks around Stalingrad in the Northern winter of 1942-43. Beevor attains a nice balance between telling the stories of the top leaders with their cigars, brandy and strategy maps, and what life was like for the ordinary soldiers who died in their hundreds of thousands in the snow. He also has a nice balanced approach to the two sides; we are spared neither Hitler's stupidity and vacillation, nor Stalin's arrogance and carelessness. Ultimately, the book's thesis is that both leaders were pretty careless of their own people's lives, but that Stalin was the more pragmatic; Hitler's amour propre and fey mysticism cost him and his country dear in the end. A fitting lesson for our times.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karl Lazanski

    What can one say about this book! Antony Beevor has written a tome that will last the ages. I found this book so easy to read and follow, but also exciting and majorly informative. I came into this book, not having much knowledge of Stalingrad and the battle/s surrounding it. There is a lot of personal narrative from soldiers on both sides that gives one a very heart wrenching and sometimes grotesque idea of the pain and struggle that not only the soldiers went through, but also the civilians tha What can one say about this book! Antony Beevor has written a tome that will last the ages. I found this book so easy to read and follow, but also exciting and majorly informative. I came into this book, not having much knowledge of Stalingrad and the battle/s surrounding it. There is a lot of personal narrative from soldiers on both sides that gives one a very heart wrenching and sometimes grotesque idea of the pain and struggle that not only the soldiers went through, but also the civilians that were stuck inside the city. It's written in a style that readers who like statistics and those who like story driven books will be able to come together as this book has both! I'm not one to give too much information away, but what I can say is that if you want to read a book that will keep you hooked from page to page, and stir all emotions inside you, than Stalingrad should be at the top of your list!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vuk Prlainović

    It's not a bad book, but as a proclaimed "historical analysis" I can hardly give it more than one star. Reasons include: - Heavy anti-Soviet bias. The author tries very hard to hammer in the notion of every Red Army soldier being a drunken lout. "Slavic peasant" phrasing is uncomfortably common, and it makes you question the author's intentions. - Use of individual anecdotes to portray behaviors depicted in those anecdotes as common and regular. - Unfounded claims, the most jarring of which being 1 It's not a bad book, but as a proclaimed "historical analysis" I can hardly give it more than one star. Reasons include: - Heavy anti-Soviet bias. The author tries very hard to hammer in the notion of every Red Army soldier being a drunken lout. "Slavic peasant" phrasing is uncomfortably common, and it makes you question the author's intentions. - Use of individual anecdotes to portray behaviors depicted in those anecdotes as common and regular. - Unfounded claims, the most jarring of which being 13,500 Soviet soldiers supposedly executed by the NKVD during the course of the battle. Documented sources put the number of NKVD detainees at 1,218 men, of which only 21 were executed, the rest returning back to the front. - The 'totalitarianism fallacy' of equating socialism and fascism. And more. Don't read unless you want to work your criticism muscles.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rohit Salgaonkar

    ~ Stalingrad - For when the attackers became the besieged. At the foremost, the Siege of Stalingrad was perhaps the most strategically insignificant and inconsequential conquest after the failure of Operation Barbarossa, however, as events transpired gradually it became one of the most vital epicenter which would dictate how the finale of this prolonged turmoil of a war would end. My recent fascination with WW2 in particular, has led me to rate it as a modern equivalent of the epic Mahabharata and ~ Stalingrad - For when the attackers became the besieged. At the foremost, the Siege of Stalingrad was perhaps the most strategically insignificant and inconsequential conquest after the failure of Operation Barbarossa, however, as events transpired gradually it became one of the most vital epicenter which would dictate how the finale of this prolonged turmoil of a war would end. My recent fascination with WW2 in particular, has led me to rate it as a modern equivalent of the epic Mahabharata and there are countless tales and lessons which one can adopt as precepts in their life. The most profound lesson is derived from the actions of Adolf Hitler, it educated me that it is extremely important to discern that thin line between obsession and plain, outright, and morbid megalomania. For such delusions only serves to bring chaos, isolation and self-destruction. Hitler firmly believed that one smash at the door and the whole damn rotten structure of Russia will fall, the difference between a visionary and a dreamer. The single most important difference between the outcome of the war, as the writer also points out, is that Stalin’s greatest advantage over Hitler was his lack of ideological shame. (The employment of women workforce in operating the anti-aircraft guns and in Russian factories at the time when Hitler couldn't even fathom such an idea qualifies equally if not more.) ~ What if you could change it back? - 11.22.63 History and the attraction to it, is primarily because it gives us an opportunity to explore and wonder, borrowing from the concept of Stephen King's book '11.22.63', the 'What If' situations. What if, during the final stages of Operation Barbarossa, when time was of the essence, the Army Groups South, North and Central coalesced into one unit and struck Moscow together? How drastic would have been the outcome if the eastern front of the Russian Army to safeguard against the Japanese invasion, wouldn't have been diverted soon enough? What if, Hitler wouldn't have halted the march of his army to annihilate the British and French troops? It is amusing to think what sequence of events would have followed if tides were turned in some of these events. ~ "Yes, Stannis is a good soldier, everyone knows that; so was Robert! Tell me something, do you still believe good soldiers make good kings?" - Renly Baratheon Hitler's persona and aura undermines the formidable men like Goebbels, Himmler, Bormann, Speer and Goering who surrounded him. Leaving behind the ideology part and the personal vices and shortcomings of these men, it would be remiss not to admire that they were brilliant executioners and taskmasters and some of them were an individual power-center in themselves. In amidst of such brilliance, one most intriguing and outlandish personality was Friedrich Paulus, Commander of the German Sixth Army. He reminds us that hard-work, cleverness, conscientiousness are yes admirable qualities in an individual, however, if you are placing the fate of millions of people in a person, the qualities of decisiveness, command experience and toughness should outweigh any other qualities in times of war. The 'Ghost of Stalingrad' as he was referred to later, because of the state of physical and moral disintegration he was in during the closing stages, is someone you feel empathy towards. He did not want to go down in history as the general responsible for the greatest military disaster of all time, yet he was too obedient and dutiful of a person who respected the hierarchy of command and didn't dare go against it. That brings me back to the 'What If?' situation, what if the command of the Sixth Army was bestowed upon a more assertive figure, the 'Desert Fox' himself, Erwin Rommel? I wonder. ~ 'The Winds of Winter' & 'A Dream of Spring' Most acts of bravery from that siege never came to light, having disappeared with the death of witnesses. Sir Anthony Beevor delivers an outstanding account of such common civilians, the most lowest ranked soldiers and some high ranking officials like Richthofen and Chuikov through what surely must have been arduous research of personal diaries and letter communications. One panzer officer wrote 'Stalingrad is no longer a town. Animals flee this hell; the hardest stones cannot bear it for long; only men endure.' It raises the hair on your neck to read through all the agony and suffering, the starvation, the cannibalism, the bouts of typhus, jaundice, lice infestation, amputations, frost bites and above all the longing to be able to fly away, out of this inferno in which they had been abandoned. Fly away to home, to their family and to the warmth of their home. On a lighter note, it appears that the best of humor and sarcasm also does come in only such horrendous times. I particularly enjoyed the thought of what would happen if ‘Vanyusha tried to marry Katyusha’, the analogy of uneventful Christmas celebrations with the war and the satirical instructions to those returning home for leave on how to act civil. Sir Anthony's work to summarize is a thoroughly detailed and assiduous narrative which provides a testament of what events transpired in southernmost Russia. It tell us that the soldiers in the end, didn't fight for Hitler or Stalin, they didn't fight of Nazism or Communism, but for a greater pride, a pride of their motherland.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    Description: The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five-month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost; then, in an astonishing revers Description: The Battle of Stalingrad was not only the psychological turning point of World War II: it also changed the face of modern warfare. Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five-month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost; then, in an astonishing reversal, encircled and trapped their Nazi enemy. This battle for the ruins of a city cost more than a million lives. Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides, fighting in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including prisoner interrogations and reports of desertions and executions. As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable. Antony Beevor: why did Ukraine ban my book? After the Ukraine government condemned his book Stalingrad, Antony Beevor reflects on governments’ desire to alter the past and warns of the dangers of censorship

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linh

    Kiệt tác về một trận chiến vĩ đại và kinh khủng trong lịch sử nhân loại

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    Dopo aver letto “Vita e destino” volevo saperne un po’ di più sulla battaglia di Stalingrado: ne ho saputo pure troppo. Scherzi a parte, è un libro interessantissimo, fatto molto, bene, documentato, ragionato e ben adatto a chi non è addetto ai lavori (storia militare, etc.) Beevor riesce a spiegare molto bene e in maniera persino avvincente per un disastro di tal portata, raccontando gli antefatti dell’Operazione Barbarossa, la blitzkrieg dell’estate 1941 che porterà le armate di Hitler a pochi Dopo aver letto “Vita e destino” volevo saperne un po’ di più sulla battaglia di Stalingrado: ne ho saputo pure troppo. Scherzi a parte, è un libro interessantissimo, fatto molto, bene, documentato, ragionato e ben adatto a chi non è addetto ai lavori (storia militare, etc.) Beevor riesce a spiegare molto bene e in maniera persino avvincente per un disastro di tal portata, raccontando gli antefatti dell’Operazione Barbarossa, la blitzkrieg dell’estate 1941 che porterà le armate di Hitler a pochi chilometri da Mosca, la ritirata e infine lo sturm und drang travolgente dell’estate del 1942 fino a Stalingrado e al Caucaso. Con l’aiuto delle cartine e con un po’ di pazienza, sempre tenendo a mente le varie armate e le varie panzerarmee (che ce ne sono uno sfracello) si riesce a capire tattiche e strategie della Wehrmacht e dell’Armata Rossa. Fino all’Operazione Urano, la manovra a tenaglia nord-sud iniziata il 19 novembre 1942, che chiuderà la 6° Armata di von Paulus nella sacca di Stalingrado, trasformando l’assediante in assediato e il distruttore in distrutto. Ma l’estremo pregio del libro (non facile né scontato in un libro di storia militare) è la grande attenzione data all’elemento umano di tutta la vicenda, all’aspetto umanissimo di chi vi partecipò, militari, non solo, ma anche civili incastrati nell’assedio della città sul Volga, in termini di dolore, sofferenza estrema, sacrificio, coraggio, altruismo, come anche di cecità e indifferenza per le sofferenze altrui, odio razziale, etc. Grazie allo spoglio degli archivi tedeschi e russi, ma soprattutto dell’NKVD (la mamma del KGB di putiniana memoria) e alla consultazione ed analisi di rapporti, lettere dei soldati a casa, interrogatori dei prigionieri, nonché memorie e interviste ai sopravvissuti, vengono alla luce piccole e piccolissime storie, non solo di ufficiali superiori, ma di soldati e civili travolti, sbattuti, inghiottiti e divorati nel terribile gorgo di Stalingrado. Storie terribili che ricordano e anticipano le spietate battaglie di Kobane e Mosul, in cui il fanatismo, l’odio sadico e distruttivo la fanno da padroni. Vita da topi rintanati per mesi in cantine, rifugi e fogne, sotto le bombe che riducono una splendida città in un ammasso di rovine, prima per i russi e poi per i tedeschi assediati, con uno “stupendo” colpo di scena finale in cui le parti si invertono come in una trita e ritrita commedia. La vita umana non vale più nulla. Ogni istante può essere fatale: una bomba, una raffica, il colpo di un cecchino. Oppure la fame e la sete, terribili per chi è assediato e deve mangiare chicchi di grano marcito e bere acqua mischiata a petrolio. E pidocchi, terribili aguzzini di chi vive nelle buche a 30 gradi sotto zero senza potersi mai lavare, che abbandonano un uomo solo quando è morto. E trasmettono infezioni, che democraticamente infestano sia i tedeschi che i russi. Dissenteria, tifo, itterizia fanno più morti tra gli assediati tedeschi che le pallottole e le bombe russe. La carne in putrefazione dei feriti, in ospedali sotterranei dall’aria irrespirabile, sulla quale crescono i funghi… dita congelate e in cancrena che vengono via con le bende… prigionieri spossati dalla dissenteria che cadono e affogano negli scoli delle latrine tra l’indifferenza generale… uomini ridotti alla fame che si saziano di pezzi dei cadaveri dei loro compagni morti, prima che congelino… Sì, anche questo è Stalingrado. Come lo è anche la pietà delle donne russe per i prigionieri tedeschi, sì proprio per loro, gli invasori, che si avviano nei campi nella steppa a morire, che si esprime in piccoli gesti di grande umanità: un sorso d’acqua, un pezzo di pane. Storie di coraggio, molte, belle, soprattutto di chi difende casa e patria. Il sergente Jakov Pavlov che assume il comando di un plotone dopo l’accecamento del suo tenente e resiste per 58 giorni con i suoi uomini assediati dentro un palazzo ridotto a fortezza, distruggendo i carri tedeschi che attaccano. Pavlov, decorato in seguito come Eroe dell’Unione Sovietica, diventerà in seguito l’archimandrita Kirill nel monastero di Serge’vo in cui attirerà un enorme seguito di fedeli ,ma non per le sue gesta a Stalingrado. O le liceali che si offrirono volontarie per la difesa contraerea, morendo tutte coraggiosamente, mitragliate e bombardate dagli stukas di von Richtofen (il cugino del Barone Rosso). Stalingrado è la svolta della 2° guerra mondiale, è la sconfitta, l’inizio della fine del nazifascismo e nello stesso tempo l’inizio dell’affermarsi del totalitarismo comunista sull’Europa orientale. Una canzone, Zemljanka, o anche detta “I quattro gradini verso la morte”, di Aleksej Surkov, esprime meglio di tutti lo spirito di Stalingrado, il meglio dello spirito dei difensori dalla barbarie: Il fuoco guizza nella stufetta La resina cola dal ciocco come una lacrima E la fisarmonica nel bunker Mi canta del tuo sorrido e dei tuoi occhi I cespugli mi sussurrano di te In un campo bianco vicino a Mosca Voglio soprattutto che tu senta Com’è triste la mia voce Ora sei molto lontana Distese di neve si frappongono fra noi È così difficile venire da te E qui ci sono quattro gradini verso la morte Canta fisarmonica, sfidando la tempesta di neve Chiama quella felicità che ha smarrito la strada Sto al caldo nel freddo bunker Perché ho il tuo amore inestinguibile.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pramodya

    An excellent account of the Stalingrad battle on all perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It recounts the battle and the importance of Stalingrad as a turning point in the war between the nazi Germany and the allied powers as well as the experiences of soldiers of both Russian and German soldiers. Brilliantly researched and written down in a way that the reader gets a clear picture of the situation before ,during and the aftermath of the battle. The author does not hide back fro An excellent account of the Stalingrad battle on all perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It recounts the battle and the importance of Stalingrad as a turning point in the war between the nazi Germany and the allied powers as well as the experiences of soldiers of both Russian and German soldiers. Brilliantly researched and written down in a way that the reader gets a clear picture of the situation before ,during and the aftermath of the battle. The author does not hide back from facts about the unbelievable destruction of human lives,The atrocious treatment of POW on both sides and the terrible survival tactics done by soldiers who were left to die in the bitter cold Russian terrain. It also recounts the roles of Hitler and Stalin during the progress of the battle. All in all it was an immensely enjoyable read from which I gained much knowledge. I recommend it to anyone who wants a general and comprehensive view of the Stalingrad battle which proved to be a vital point in the WW2.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    My first Beevor, it was outstanding. I will be coming back for more. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 gets 5 Stars for the epic battle history presented here. What Beevor conveys better than others is the sheer brutality of the eastern front and the Stalingrad battle. While millions die, Beevor brings the tragedy down to the individual level. Atrocity is matched by atrocity until you mourn the death of each side while seeing each side having justification. The Nazis started it but the So My first Beevor, it was outstanding. I will be coming back for more. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 gets 5 Stars for the epic battle history presented here. What Beevor conveys better than others is the sheer brutality of the eastern front and the Stalingrad battle. While millions die, Beevor brings the tragedy down to the individual level. Atrocity is matched by atrocity until you mourn the death of each side while seeing each side having justification. The Nazis started it but the Soviets paid them back with interest. Beevor takes the first 100 pages to give an account of the war in the east up to arriving at the outskirts of Stalingrad. Excellent and succinct. As the Sixth Army arrives at the suburbs of Stalingrad, the Germans feel like they will win shortly while the Russians despair at ever mounting losses. Yet in a few months everything will be turned around. The Germans get a taste of the desperation of the defense: Fight like a girl (view spoiler)[While Richthofen’s bombers pounded Stalingrad, the armoured spearhead of the 16th Panzer Division had advanced virtually unopposed across the steppe for nearly twenty-five miles. ‘Around Gumrak’, the division recorded, ‘enemy resistance became stronger and anti-aircraft guns began firing wildly at our armoured vehicles from the north-west corner of Stalingrad.’ This resistance came from the batteries operated by young women volunteers, barely out of high school. Few had fired the guns before, owing to the shortage of ammunition, and none of them had been trained to take on targets on the ground. They had switched targets from the bombers over the city on sighting the panzers, whose crews ‘seemed to think they were on a Sunday promenade’. The young gun crews furiously ‘wound the handles, depressing the barrels to zero elevation -- the Soviet 37-mm anti-aircraft guns were fairly crude copies of the Bofors — and traversed on to the leading armoured vehicles. The German panzer crews quickly overcame their initial surprise, and deployed to attack some of the batteries. Stukas soon arrived to deal with others. This unequal battle was watched in anguish by Captain Sarkisyan, the commander of a Soviet heavy mortar battalion, who later related what he saw to the writer Vasily Grossman. Every time the anti-aircraft guns fell silent, Sarkisyan exclaimed: ‘Oh, they’re finished now! They’ve been wiped out!’ But each time, after a pause, the guns started to fire again. ‘This’, declared Grossman, ‘was the first page of the Stalingrad defence.’ (hide spoiler)] The Luftwaffe helps to subdue the defenders…or do they? The “house warmings”, as the Stuka attacks were known, only made the city tougher to fight in for the Germans whose army was made for swift, blitzkrieg battles…not urban bloodbaths. The Soviets turn every factory and substantial building into a strongpoint. What good are Panzers in an urban battle? Not much. Because of the ever present advantage of Luftwaffe support, the Soviets become night fighters. They are good at it. The Germans are harassed on the ground and in the air at night. I was not aware of the Soviet U-2 biplanes dropping bombs at night but they were very successful at keeping the Germans from any rest. Beevor presents the attitudes of each side as the battle evolves. It was truly a battle between two ruthless socialist societies for domination. The fanaticism of the young Nazis raised to worship Hitler against the patriotic fervor somehow rekindled in the Russians is discussed. Yes, the Soviet Special Brigades posted just behind the front lines to execute any who retreat and the NKVD squads roaming the rear for deserters and escapees account for some of the reasons why the Soviets held out. But there was something more, some patriotic motivation that resulted in such a tenacious defense. After Operation Uranus succeeds in trapping the Sixth Army, the Soviets confidence is boosted tremendously. The commander Zhukov tells it like it is: Zhukov was characteristically to the point when he described the encirclement of the Sixth Army as ‘a tremendous education for victory for our troops’. Grossman was also right when he wrote: “The morale of the soldiers has never been so high’. (Interestingly, neither of these observations exactly confirmed the official Soviet propaganda line that ‘the morale of an army depends on the socially just and progressive order of the society it defends’.) Communist or socialist, the individual means nothing compared to the state. That is why the Soviets could send so many to die without giving them training, arms or tactics to succeed. And why the Sixth Army was consigned to die on the Volga. How about this guy as a leader? Hitler: “What is Life, Life is the Nation. The individual must die…” remarks upon learning Field Marshal Paulus did not commit suicide as demanded. Permanent addition to the WWII shelf.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    It was called as the Great War. It was great in all aspects of war, including in its stupidity. You know how it started. A minor potentate was assassinated and with this single death nations found reason enough to stage an orgy of bloodbaths across Europe which resulted to the death of millions, most of them young men in the prime of their lives. The manner this war was conducted even looked more foolish: the soldiers dug trenches, built fortifications and set up machine gun nests. They rain bom It was called as the Great War. It was great in all aspects of war, including in its stupidity. You know how it started. A minor potentate was assassinated and with this single death nations found reason enough to stage an orgy of bloodbaths across Europe which resulted to the death of millions, most of them young men in the prime of their lives. The manner this war was conducted even looked more foolish: the soldiers dug trenches, built fortifications and set up machine gun nests. They rain bombs on each other. On quieter days snipers shoot at those who make the mistake of peeping out of the trenches. One of these was the brilliant short story writer Hector Hugh Munro (aka "Saki") who, during that very dark morning of 14 November 1916 at the front was shot to death by a sniper after warning another soldier with his last words: "Put that bloody cigarette out." And when these burrowing men of war wanted to have more deaths they charge en masse to their adversaries' position upon a long whistle while the other side mows them down with enthusiastic machine gun fire. That was, of course, the first world war. The Battle of Stalingrad happened during the second, not the first, world war. But world war two's roots reach back to world war one where Germany was defeated, humiliated, and its people made to suffer so much economically that when a nutcase named Adolf Hitler presented himself as the Father of the Nation who will lead its people to their former glory they, who were tired of their hunger and poverty and of being kicked around lapped up the rhetorics of this madman and placed him and his murderous thugs into power. This is the story of the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. Hitler assembled an invasion force of 4 million troops (at Stalingrad around 50,000 Soviet soldiers even defected and fought against their former comrades), 7,000 field guns, over 2,000 planes, 3,350 tanks and 600,000 horses to tow guns, ambulances and ration wagons. Assembly point was a long line from Finland to the Black Sea. It was a sight of breathtaking beauty, a sight to behold, that great force when it began to move forward to take the vast country led by another mass murderer, Josef Stalin. At first it looked like the Germans would emerge victorious. But then came Stalingrad, too far forward from Germany, cut off from a viable supply line, during that too cold a winter. Stalingrad, like the man it was named after, was death. Death by bullets and bombs, death by starvation and sickness, death delivered by the enemy, death delivered by one's own people, premeditated death, death by mistake, death standing up, death while lying down, death while awake, death while asleep, quick death, agonizing death, death with honors, insignificant, forgotten death, corpses, corpses, corpses by tens of thousands each one like a seeming line of exclamation points emphazing to a deaf world the utter pointlessness of war.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Walter Mendoza

    The battle of Stalingrad was the most important of WWII, the author tell us about the siege of Stalingrad; an very detailed story of the battle and point of view of soldier. The book count with an excellent research, well written like a novel. You have a good look of both armies and their commanders, focuses on the details tactical and strategic of the battle, about decisions of the generals. However the book it barely mentioned the military aviation but this is one the best books of the battle The battle of Stalingrad was the most important of WWII, the author tell us about the siege of Stalingrad; an very detailed story of the battle and point of view of soldier. The book count with an excellent research, well written like a novel. You have a good look of both armies and their commanders, focuses on the details tactical and strategic of the battle, about decisions of the generals. However the book it barely mentioned the military aviation but this is one the best books of the battle of Stalingrad and a masterpiece, highly recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Христо Блажев

    Сталинград – адът, създаден от човека: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/s... “Сталинград” е величава, но и силно угнетяваща книга. Монументалният труд на Антъни Бийвър на пръв поглед със своите 400 страници текст (плюс куп приложения и бележки) не изглежда чак толкова внушително, но когато човек потъне сред него, излизане няма – нещо като черната дупка на “Доброжелателните” на Джонатан Лител, но там и чисто количествено текстът е двойно повече, а и романовата структура позволява по-пряма игра Сталинград – адът, създаден от човека: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/s... “Сталинград” е величава, но и силно угнетяваща книга. Монументалният труд на Антъни Бийвър на пръв поглед със своите 400 страници текст (плюс куп приложения и бележки) не изглежда чак толкова внушително, но когато човек потъне сред него, излизане няма – нещо като черната дупка на “Доброжелателните” на Джонатан Лител, но там и чисто количествено текстът е двойно повече, а и романовата структура позволява по-пряма игра с емоциите. Тук имаме исторически разказ, основан на необятно количество документи – официални източници, дневници, писма, доклади, отчети, какво ли не. Бийвър успява по изумителен начин да рисува и едрите краски на победоносното нахлуване на Райха в Съветския съюз, препъването при Москва и офанзивата към Сталинград, която е ключова за тази част на фронта, и да вникне в безброй лични истории и примери и за най-възвишеното, и за най-мерзкото. История, в която думата “победа” значи оцеляване, но думата “загуба” предлага безброй нюанси на страданието. Издателство "Изток-Запад" http://knigolandia.info/book-review/s...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    This is surely one of the best, if not the best, books written on the siege of Stalingrad. The description of the siege, from both the German and Soviet perspectives, is quite unforgettable. The battle was joined on 23 August 1942 and concluded over five months later with the encirclement of the assaulting German Sixth Army by Russian reinforcements. Casualty estimates are always difficult for a battle of this size, but most agree that over a million lives were lost on both sides. Many civilians This is surely one of the best, if not the best, books written on the siege of Stalingrad. The description of the siege, from both the German and Soviet perspectives, is quite unforgettable. The battle was joined on 23 August 1942 and concluded over five months later with the encirclement of the assaulting German Sixth Army by Russian reinforcements. Casualty estimates are always difficult for a battle of this size, but most agree that over a million lives were lost on both sides. Many civilians were unable to leave the city once the siege was begun, and many of these died. It was a brutal, terrifying engagement for both sides, and with the ultimate Soviet victory the tide of the war on the Eastern front was reversed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    I've always been fascinated with modern history, especially World War II - it was my favourite subject and topic back in school. I would stay up late into the night reading up on various things from history (probably instead of doing my actual history homework) that interested me - I seem to remember spending a weekend doing nothing but reading about the Unification of Germany. It's been a few years since I finished Year 12, and upon starting Stalingrad I was struck by how much I had missed readi I've always been fascinated with modern history, especially World War II - it was my favourite subject and topic back in school. I would stay up late into the night reading up on various things from history (probably instead of doing my actual history homework) that interested me - I seem to remember spending a weekend doing nothing but reading about the Unification of Germany. It's been a few years since I finished Year 12, and upon starting Stalingrad I was struck by how much I had missed reading about history - and how I hadn't realised until that moment. There is something incredibly emotional, I find, about the way people experience history. I cannot read a historical piece without getting genuinely personally invested in the story being told, even if I (and I usually do) know the result. More on that in a minute. Stalingrad is an account of the renowned Battle of Stalingrad on the Eastern Front during World War II, written by the respected historian Antony Beevor. It covers all aspects of the siege from the beginning of the Axis invasion of the USSR, right up to the fates of the various prisoners-of-war captured at Stalingrad. Stalingrad in particular is an event that has always held an enormous amount of my respect and fascination. The idea of the under-equipped, out-numbered and out-gunned Red Army drawing a line in the sand, and declaring "No Axis forces shall pass this city", and not only holding themselves to that vow for months, but utterly defeating the invading force is the quintessential underdog story, and I love that sort of thing. Going back to my getting personally invested, I was surprised when I finished the book to realise that for probably the last two thirds of the book, I had been rooting for the Axis troops. At some level I knew that of course, they couldn't win. History didn't work that way, and the Allies won. I can only attribute this to Beevor's writing, which though accurate, is never cold or analytical as a lot of non-fiction works can be. He seems to genuinely care about how his subject is presented, which I find is fairly rare. The case of both the Red Army, stuck in their siege and under incredible pressure, and of the invading Germans, Romanians and Italians, freezing and starving to death, are presented equally, and with great compassion. Beevor clearly also isn't without a sense of humour, and his numerous jabs at both the Soviet and Nazi leadership, tongue firmly in cheek, despite the grave and terrible things they were often related to paradoxically never failed to bring a smile to my face. All in all I enjoyed Stalingrad immensely. I guess that makes sense, it wasn't an 'International Best-Seller' for nothing, though that title does get thrown around quite a bit. I'm looking forward to reading more of Beevor's work, specifically The Fall of Berlin 1945, as the Red Army's conquest of Berlin is another event that has always intrigued me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amit

    Indeed a great work by a great historian. An essential read for all world war followers. Stalingrad was a game changer of world war 2. During the complete course of war, change in mood, thoughts, impressions of Germans, Romanians and Soviets is easily depicted. It is easy to trace that conflict of ego, was the main reason for mass killing of mankind and animals. Conflicts of regional political ideologies was another big reason for it. Leaders of each region had recklessly tried to get public obed Indeed a great work by a great historian. An essential read for all world war followers. Stalingrad was a game changer of world war 2. During the complete course of war, change in mood, thoughts, impressions of Germans, Romanians and Soviets is easily depicted. It is easy to trace that conflict of ego, was the main reason for mass killing of mankind and animals. Conflicts of regional political ideologies was another big reason for it. Leaders of each region had recklessly tried to get public obedience for their radical thoughts. Their success in beguiling people, brought war at every front of Europe. Winning people by force or by diplomacy was the main strategy of each political ideal. Then using the beguiled country to conflict was the utter mistake of their leaders. Breaking the chain of command was just another big mistake of Hitler. A feedback escalation system was the need of German forces at Stalingrad. Hitler missed actual realities initially; and people like Goering has mis-utilized the confidence of Hitler. At a very later stage of war, the real situation of 6th army, reached to Hitler. Another mistake of Hitler was, his compulsion to maintain the position of sixth army at Stalingrad. The final break through was impossible owing to the exhaustion. Biggest mistake was done by Paulus and Manstein, for agreeing, unreasonably to Hitler and keep pushing sixth army beyond limits. Regional ethnic changes were made by such mass movements. Confidence in Stalin at Soviet and undesired support to Hitler at Germany, was the result of this war.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robin Webster

    The ending of siege of Stalingrad was seen by many historians as the defining moment of the Second World War. It cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of both German and Russian soldiers, as well as countless numbers of civilians. It is said that during the reconstruction of Stalingrad they were digging up bodies for decades afterwards.Tens of thousands died needlessly due to the interference of both Stalin and Hitler who on countless occasions overrode their Generals and insisted upon attacks The ending of siege of Stalingrad was seen by many historians as the defining moment of the Second World War. It cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of both German and Russian soldiers, as well as countless numbers of civilians. It is said that during the reconstruction of Stalingrad they were digging up bodies for decades afterwards.Tens of thousands died needlessly due to the interference of both Stalin and Hitler who on countless occasions overrode their Generals and insisted upon attacks which were doomed to failure, or ordered men to stand and fight when their Generals were strongly advising retreat. What is certain is that neither dictator had much respect for the lives of their people and a deep seated hatred for their enemy. After the Berlin Wall had fallen, Antony Beevor the writer of this fine book, had access for a short time to a lot of material from the Russian archives which had been unavailable to historians who wrote previous books on this subject. These firsthand accounts as well as accounts gained from other sources were woven into a very detailed account of the battles and strategies used by both armies in this hell that both Germans and Russians lived or died through in 1942. It is my view that Antony Beevor is a fantastic historical writer with no political axe to grind which in turn makes this book a timeless historical document that can be used for a reference on the siege for all time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    Stalingrad was the battle that turned the tide in the struggle against the German forces in WWII. This battle cost over 1 million lives with both sides refusing to lose. The fierce fight over a ruined city is fully explored along with the in human conditions both sides struggled with. The cost to the civilian population was staggering and this was a true battle of total war. Both sides showed little mercy to their own soldiers with executions and inhuman cruelity to prisoners. The egos of Stalin Stalingrad was the battle that turned the tide in the struggle against the German forces in WWII. This battle cost over 1 million lives with both sides refusing to lose. The fierce fight over a ruined city is fully explored along with the in human conditions both sides struggled with. The cost to the civilian population was staggering and this was a true battle of total war. Both sides showed little mercy to their own soldiers with executions and inhuman cruelity to prisoners. The egos of Stalin and Hitler were played out with little regards to the armies and soldiers invovled. The interesting sidelight to this battle is how many of the future Soviet leaders were low ranking officers and soldiers at Satlingrad and how their futures were shaped by the events of this historical battle. Anthony Beevor did a masterful job taking the records from both sides and weaving a magnificant work that kept you engaged. Anyone interested in the history of WWII must read this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aristotle Webb Katanos

    Stalingrad by Antony Beevor Orlanda Figes, another popular Historian, describes Stalingrad as ‘a tour de force’ and I must say that I agree. Beevor’s book is a well put together no-holes-barred retelling of the fateful battle that involved several million individuals in the span of just over 5 months. The paced and procedural telling of the lead up, battle and aftermath week after week grips the heart and did a great job of making me better consolidate, but hardly improve, my understanding of the Stalingrad by Antony Beevor Orlanda Figes, another popular Historian, describes Stalingrad as ‘a tour de force’ and I must say that I agree. Beevor’s book is a well put together no-holes-barred retelling of the fateful battle that involved several million individuals in the span of just over 5 months. The paced and procedural telling of the lead up, battle and aftermath week after week grips the heart and did a great job of making me better consolidate, but hardly improve, my understanding of the decisions and experiences that made up one of the most monumentally hellish and gigantic battles in human history. Originally published in 1998, upon the opening of many once top secret Russian war records, Stalingrad makes full use of all sources available to tell the story in a wholeheartedly objective way, from both sides. I think the Sabaton song managed to capture the battled best: “Stalin’s fortress on fire Is this madness or Hell The sound of the mortars The music of death We’re playing the devil’s symphony Our violins are guns conducted from Hell” Without further adieu, let’s get into my thoughts. The book itself is divided into 5 parts, with 2 in-depth appendixes at the end, to the joy of statistic lovers. Each part contains between 4 to 6 chapters from the start to the finish of the book. With two parts, or roughly a quarter of the entire reading, being dedicated to the lead up to the battle, first time readers can be well familiarized with the overheads of the War in the East before getting into it’s bloodiest battle. One thing I really enjoyed most about this book is it’s use of maps. Now, it’s not uncommon for books on Historical subjects to contains maps, but I found the maps in Stalingrad to be particularly descriptive and congruent with the subject matter. It was quite easy to line up exactly what I was reading with the maps in question. Of course, a background knowledge of the second world war would be helpful coming into this type of book, but is very seriously not required. Beevor starts his book at the beginning of Barbarossa, and leads the reader through from the border, through Ukraine, all the way across the Steppe towards the ‘fateful city’. Throughout these chapters Beevor exercises a degree of suspense in the reader as he describes the procedural march towards Stalingrad. He does well to describe the hardships and atrocities along the way, along with the chain of decisions, engagements and strategic shifts which led to the creation of Case Blue and the drive for Stalingrad. Beevor’s writing style is unassuming, many objects, concepts and individuals are given further explanation to inform curious readers. As you can tell, this is one of his most recurring qualities, and it really add to the ability to understand his book. However, as a more experienced History reader, I believe he weighed at times too heavily on the beginner explanations with not enough complex analysis that can be often seen in the works of Max Hastings or Richard Pipes. I believe that history books on any topic should always contain information and analysis for all levels of readers, people who are already familiar with the subject matter and those who are not. Stalingrad occasionally delves into deeper analysis of subjects, and even rarer so does provide arguments and counter-arguments to popular historical narratives, but I feel a stronger balance would have added to the book. Finally, after all the lead up, Beevor starts addressing the Battle of Stalingrad itself starting in Part 3. Above all else, Beevor possesses a unique storytelling style that does well to make use of recurring information and anchoring concepts to ensure the narrative doesn’t become difficult to track, this I appreciated. By that, I mean that Beevor introduces certain people or formations, like the Austrian 44th Infantry Division, or Commissar Nikita Khrushchev, and will over the course of the book keep the reader occasionally updated on how these certain formations and people are engaging in the Battle of Stalingrad. Coupled with his overall narrative style, it makes for a very smooth and comfortable reading experience, excluding the subject matter of course. The most obvious qualities of his style is his regular use of quotes and anecdotal accounts from the people that were on the ground at the time, adding to the realism of the book. I don’t want to spoil the subject matter of course, even though the battle itself is already widely researched and known, but I’ve essentially described what you’ll encounter for a good amount of the book. In summary, Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad is a well put together ‘tour de force’ of the infamous Battle which indubitably changed the course of the second world war and potentially human history. Like I mentioned before, I would have enjoyed some deeper analysis and review seen in other historical books but I doubt one becomes a bestseller through such a route. I found it a relatively easy read and would recommend it to first time history readers, but not for the faint of heart. The books 431 page length excluding the Appendixes took me roughly 15 hours to finish, in one long and arduous flight from Australia to Arabia. I would be happy giving it an 8/10.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Call me odd, but I've never been particularly fond of Hitler or Stalin. Controversial as that opinion may be, it was only reinforced by Antony Beevor's Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was both one of the bloodiest in world history and — which says something about WWII — the second bloodiest conflict of the second World War. (The first was, predictably, the siege of Leningrad.) Quite what would have happened if the Soviet and German generals had been in charge of their respective armies is un Call me odd, but I've never been particularly fond of Hitler or Stalin. Controversial as that opinion may be, it was only reinforced by Antony Beevor's Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was both one of the bloodiest in world history and — which says something about WWII — the second bloodiest conflict of the second World War. (The first was, predictably, the siege of Leningrad.) Quite what would have happened if the Soviet and German generals had been in charge of their respective armies is unclear, but I suspect the death toll would have been somewhat less than its ultimate figure of over a million. But the generals were not in charge. Hitler had been so successful at weeding out any independence in his military leaders that they were afraid to do anything without his say-so. Stalin, meanwhile, saw conspiracies everywhere and in every suggestion by his generals. This is neatly highlighted early on in Stalingrad when the German advance on Moscow is being discussed. A Soviet reconnaissance pilot spotted a twelve mile convoy of Panzers heading towards the capital and radioed it in. Unwilling to believe this, Stalin ordered a second pilot to be sent out. The second pilot corroborated the first pilot's report. Still unwilling to accept this, a third pilot was sent out. When the third pilot again reported the huge incoming convoy, Stalin's reaction was to demand the pilot's commander be arrested for panic-mongering. The two dictators would presumably have loved Command and Conquer. Both seem to have sat in their armchairs before a neat map showing where all their units were. Aha! they said, if we move these divisions here and those corps there then we'll surround the enemy and be victorious! A general with experience might have pointed out that moving several thousand men and several hundred tanks from point A to point B involved more in real life than pushing a counter across a map, in reality there were minor inconveniences like food, fuel, equipment, and the issue that real soldiers need time and energy to traverse the land. But any general unwise enough to actually make a suggestion contrary to either of the leader's commands tended to be ignored at best, arrested at worst. Whoever “won” at Stalingrad (and like the War itself, it's not clear that the victors came out of the battle in much better shape than the defeated), it was always going to be in spite of the commander-in-chief, not thanks to them. In the event, Stalin's desperation to not retreat beyond the Volga river along with his desire to save the city named after him seem to have injected some sense into him, and he became somewhat more willing to listen to his military advisers as the battle went on. Hitler had no such epiphany and the fate of the Sixth Army was sealed. Antony Beevor has done a good job in explaining the immediate history leading up to the battle, although his discussion of the aftermath is almost entirely about the fate of the prisoners of war, with few specifics given about the importance of the battle in the context of the War. The brunt of the work is about the battle itself. Beevor has trawled all the available sources and it does show, although the reluctance of the Russian government to release a lot of their files is somewhat limiting, as is the unavoidable problem of people altering their stories after the event to cover up perceived atrocities. The battle was huge and it was complex. But as Tolstoy says in War and Peace, a battle is determined by the actions of countless individual soldiers not the actions of one great general. Beevor seems to agree with this philosophy so a lot of the battle is described in little vignettes: snippets from letters sent home, brief eye witness reports, a datum here and there from the mass of available (and contradictory) statistics. The end result can feel a bit like a whole bunch of snippets glued together, which can be somewhat jarring when we again zoom out to the overall structure of the battle. This larger scale picture is oftentimes confusing, albeit this is hardly unavoidable. Beevor often describes the movements individual divisions, corps, et al. and refers to them by name, which can lead to sentences like “The 43rd Infantry Division then moved to outflank the 273rd Rifle Division, but was forced to retreat after bombardment by the 627th Artillery battalion.” Military buffs who can remember all the individual parts of the Sixth and Red Army would no doubt happily see all this in their mind's eye. For my part I had to keep reading until either a Panzer division was mentioned, allowing me to figure out which side were the Germans and then track back, or wait for a blatantly German or Russian name to be mentioned, or as a last resort find one of the mentioned divisions in the Appendix, which lists all the involved groups. Short of prefacing every Division's name with either “the German” or “the Soviet”, which would be pretty grating pretty quickly, I don't suppose this is really a solvable problem. Antony Beevor does a good job at humanising a struggle in which so many inhuman events occurred. The Battle of Stalingrad is perhaps too complex and now too distant to ever be fully understood, but at least now I understand a little better the battle that changed the War.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Ryan

    Beevor manages to capture the scale of a truly titanic struggle without forgetting the human element. A powerful and often harrowing picture what happens when two dictatorships go to war. The Soviet Union may have been a dreadful place to live, but it should be remembered that its people did, once upon a time, save the world from something worse.

  29. 4 out of 5

    AC

    I opted for an abridged version on audible, listened to at 2x speed while walking the dog --. A heavier focus on military history than I normally read, but a good enough overview in preparation for reading Vasily Grossman. Not, however, a really superb book, in my view -- though the editing/abridgment may have had something to do with that.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    British historian Antony Beefor has written a complete and objective history of the titanic Battle of Stalingrad during WWII. He certainly did his research, drawing upon the once secret Russian archives as well as German records. The result is very readable, a narrative that moves along swiftly, so that at times I couldn't put it down. And we know the ending--the Soviet Army's defeat and destruction of the German Sixth Army in the city of Stalingrad in Russia. I would argue that it was not only British historian Antony Beefor has written a complete and objective history of the titanic Battle of Stalingrad during WWII. He certainly did his research, drawing upon the once secret Russian archives as well as German records. The result is very readable, a narrative that moves along swiftly, so that at times I couldn't put it down. And we know the ending--the Soviet Army's defeat and destruction of the German Sixth Army in the city of Stalingrad in Russia. I would argue that it was not only the turning point of the Eastern Front, but of the entire war. In the previous year (1941), the Germans had been stopped before Moscow and they had to struggle to survive the brutal Russian winter. In the summer of 1942, the German blitzkrieg of panzers (tanks) and Stuka dive bombers drove across Russia to reach the mighty Volga River--and Stalingrad, the city named for the Soviet dictator on the west side of the river. By fighting in the city, street by street, block by block, and even house by house, the Germans threw away their great advantage of mobility. The Soviet troops dug into the rubble of the bombed-out city and fought desperately for time. Stalin wanted to hold the Germans within the city while building reserves to mount a counter-offensive in the winter. That happened with Operation Uranus in November, as Soviet forces broke through the allied Romanian armies on the German flank--and trapped the 6th Army within the city that it had been fighting so hard to conquer. Then began a nightmarish ordeal as the Germans suffered from frostbite, disease, and even starvation during a siege that finally ended at the end of January, 1943. 91,ooo prisoners were taken including 22 German generals and that included Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, the commander. But even more than the horrendous losses, it was the psychological impact on Hitler and Germany that made Stalingrad the war's turning point. Victory was no longer assured and, in fact, Germany would need to fight for its life. Beevor gives us a lot of images and scenes that leave a lasting impression. Here is one scene-"These defeated remnants of the Sixth Army.....shivering in their inadequate greatcoats....were herded into long columns of march. A group of survivors from the 297th Infantry Division was confronted by a Russian officer, who pointed at the ruins around and yelled at them: "That's how Berlin is going to look." (pg. 387)

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