by Antony Beevor
The scale of Germany's Eastern Front during World War II, in terms of area, people, and materiel involved, was immense: Germany began the invasion with over four million troops, for example. Also difficult to comprehend is the general disregard that the leadership on both sides had for human life -- especially the lives of Russian troops and civilians.
Stalingrad tells a tragic, epic story. The Germans invade, confident of a swift victory; Russian losses, early on, are huge; the two megalomaniac leaders view Stalingrad more in terms of symbolism than strategy; the Russians launch a massive counterattack and encircle the German 6th Army, eventually eliminating it; most of the Germans who survive the encirclement die during subsequent imprisonment.
Beevor does not get in the way of the story; rather, he uses many short quotes from original sources to bring readers closer to what happened. These personal details humanize both sides, often making for uncomfortable reading -- the suffering on both sides is staggering. This is a good book; I recommend it.
copyright © 2002 John Regehr