I bought this book as I have been trying for years to find a good history covering the battles around East Prussia towards the end of the war. I was not disappointed by this book! The author has put in a lot of groundwork to detail the movements of divisions, corps and armies at this time (I suspect this may not have been too easy given the chaos that reigned over that period). The excellent use of first hand stories interspersed with the more technical side of battles made this book very difficult to put down. This, for me, is the strength of this book..the ability to bring the human stories behind battles into the narrative. The human stories quite rightly include the fate of civilians caught up in this disaster.
The book is very well organised (again, no mean feat given the amount that was going on at any one time) and I did not feel lost as I was led through the events and the stories of specific individuals caught up in it all. I only have a few moans, but these should not take away from buying this book. The maps could have been better, as, at times, I could not find where some places were that were mentioned in the text..I did not need more battle lines (these would have been very fluid anyway) but better maps would have helped in places. The other one was the end where the fate of some of the individuals mentioned in the text was maybe not always followed through in as much detail as I would have liked. Finally, whilst some Russian personal stories were included, I would have liked more, to better balance the whole history (however, this is a common 'failing' amongst books covering this time and may be more down to finding it hard to find good sources). As I say, these are minor moans!
I was interested to see that the author had not quoted from Guy Sajer's 'The Forgotten Soldier', as his book covers many of the events mentioned in this book. Why not? (the old debate about this book obviously comes to mind)..perhaps the author himself does not believe that Sajer's story can be 100% verified (I personally believe that it is based upon actual experiences).
At any rate, I'd totally recommend this book to anyone interested in this period. It may leave you exhausted and shocked at times, but if it didn't, the book would not have got its story across. An excellent history of the battles (and I have read lots of war books!) and a must for the bookshelf of anyone who wants to know more about this period.