"Island of Fire" was so impressive, I had to get "Death of the Leaping Horseman". Where "Island" covered the infantry assault on the Barrikady Factory and surrounding area in northern Stalingrad, this book covers predominately the 24th PzD's assault northward toward southern Stalingrad. Both books have many things in common. Both are meticulously researched and skillfully presented with much detail and many maps and pictures. One thing that is different is that while "Island" begins its coverage on Nov 2nd when the five pioneer battalions reached Stalingrad and lasts until the surrender, "Leaping" begins on Aug 12th when Hitler transferred the division from Paulus to Hoth and lasts until Nov 20th when Operation Uranus had started and the division was sent west to defend against 5th Tank Army's penetration of the line. At that point the 24th PzD was no longer a viable fighting unit. The story begins when the 24th PzD joins up with 48th PzC in the Aksai region, north of Kotelnikovo where it will protect the east flank of the Corps. The 14th PzD, 94th ID and a few smaller attachments are also sighted in the assault for they work together.
Though the panzers gained ground as they headed north and a little east toward Stalingrad, Russian resistance was stiff and inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. As the advance neared the city, the resistance would only worsen. To a rational dictator, a clear signal was sounded that trouble was ahead and alternative plans should be made but Hitler was never rational. He has a history throughout the war of pushing his troops too fast and too far but he never learned. Zhukov always made him pay for that mistake.
By the end of August, the 24th PzD had reached Peschanka, a suburb of Stalingrad. By late September, the 24th PzD and the 94th ID were inside Stalingrad, capturing the grain silo and reaching the Volga River. By early November the southern half of Stalingrad was captured and the three divisions were sent north to help Paulus capture the factory district. The story will end with the 24th PzD defending the left flank against the Russian invasion during Operation Uranus. I was really surprised at how few Mk IV panzers the division had. The bulk of its force was made up of Mk IIIs and older. There were no Panthers or Tigers. Its amazing the accomplishment made with their arsenal.
There is much to learn from this book and though its detail laden, the presentation is interesting and there is no chance of getting bored. Besides the battle action, Mr Mark includes many first person accounts to depict the human side of battle. Of special interest to me were the communications and after action reports from division to corps and corps to army that allowed you to follow what command was thinking and planning, reacting to the unexpected. Included in this chain of command is Hoth, Kempf, Hauenschild, Heim, Fremerey and others. There would be daily and weekly accountings of casualties, POWs and equipment captured, decorations bestowed and more. There are many bios of men and officers as well as their photos that helps put a face to the narrative.
There are many maps and photos to view. There is an extensive appendix that includes additional officers bios, Orders of Battle, panzer and equipment losses, accommodations and promotions bestowed and more. The Bibliography which includes primary and secondary sources is also helpful. Both of these books have been great; I hope Mr Mark will extend his coverage to include the defense of the Don - Chir Rivers by Manstein during Operation Little Saturn. Anybody interested in the battle of Stalingrad should consider investing in this book. Its highly recommended.