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Kursk: The Greatest Battle [Paperback]

Lloyd Clark
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 May 2012

A monumental, enthralling work charting the greatest land battle of all time which changed the course of World War Two, by a highly regarded military expert

5th July 1943: the greatest land battle of all time began around the town of Kursk in Russia. This epic confrontation between German and Soviet forces was one of the most important military engagements in history and epitomised 'total war'.It was also one of the most bloody, characterised by hideous excess and outrageous atrocities. The battle concluded with Germany having incurred nearly three million dead and the Soviet Union a staggering ten million. It was a monumental and decisive encounter of breathtaking intensity which became a turning point, not only on the Eastern Front, but in the Second World War as a whole. Using the very latest available archival material including the testimonies of veterans and providing strategic perspective alongside personal stories of front line fighting, Lloyd Clark has written a lucid, enthralling and heart-stopping account of this incredible battle.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755336399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755336395
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The outstanding military book of 2011 for me is Lloyd Clark's Kursk. Many military people have talked about mankind's largest tank battle without having had the opportunity to study it in the depth it deserves. Clark's masterful study not only rectifies this deficiency but also places the battle in its wider context of the whole campaign on the Eastern Front. Moreover the book is highly enjoyable for both military student and casual reader alike.
--Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff

About the Author

Lloyd Clark is a senior academic in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Professorial Research Fellow in War Studies, Humanities Research Institute, University of Buckingham. He is the author of several books, including Anzio: The Friction of War and Arnhem: The Greatest Airborne Battle in History, has contributed to numerous others and lectures on military history all over the world. He is a frequent guide to battlefields on four continents and often works on radio and television as both historical adviser and interviewee. He lives in rural Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Praiseworthy Overview 2 Aug 2011
By Dave History Student TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For anybody who wants to read about the Campaign for the first time or for those who have read about it a long time ago, this would be an excellent overview to read. To the best of my knowledge, it contains the latest scholarship that refutes some of the exaggerations that have been around since the battle. One area that Mr Clark frequently visits concerns the number of tanks that were destroyed and the subsequent numbers of remaining tanks available to the key corps and divisions to continue the battle.
In addition to the ground action, the author frequently touches on the air war, showing examples where a battle was won or at least not lost with the help of their air forces. Extending the coverage further, partisans ambushing a supply convey that would never reach Hoth or visiting a field aid station with overflowing patients waiting for attention or sappers trying to clear a mine field during a bitter battle and more are presented in this book. The key officiers like Vatutin, Rotmistrov, Hausser, Manstein and others are discussed with mini profiles developed. Appraisal and analysis is also provided which was good and accurate but with a depth that was a little less than can be found in books by Glantz or Zamulin.

Considering the format and content of this book, I would consider this ideally suited for new or intermediate students of the Campaign. Of the 382 pages devoted to the main section of the book, only 174 pages cover the campaign. The other 208 pages are directed to the first years of the war from Barbarossa to Kharkov 1943 to the buildup for the invasion. The history of the two countries and their dictator's rise to power since the end of the Great War begins the book.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious military history, fine writing. 15 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just a quick review to say that if the style of military history first made famous by Cornelius Ryan and more recently by numerous fine authors such as Rick Atkinson is what you are after then this is the Kursk book for you.

Lloyd Clark mixes operational analysis and explanation with first person accounts superbly. This is also the most balanced Kursk book I have come across having read nearly all of them. By balanced I am not implying that all pervious authors were biased but that Lloyd Clark truly gives the picture from both sides of the hill. Most previous accounts tend to concentrate on the battle viewed from either the German or Soviet side. Even the numerous very fine first person accounts are balanced in number between the two sides.

Additionally there is a full explanation of what happened during the second half of the offensive. Most Kursk books give a detailed account of the first four days fighting from the morning of the 5th July to the night of 8th/9th July. Then suddenly you find yourself at the climactic battle of the 12th then the book ends. In this volume the four days between the 8th/9th and the 12th are fully covered and explained. I learnt a lot even though I must have read more than ten odd other Kursk books including the Soviet General Staff report.

Serious military history but also brought to life by fine writing. Will lookout for his books from now on.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kursk - feels like you are there 3 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant. If you wanted to capture the essence of what it was like to be there in July 1943, in every sense this is the right book to read. Here you will find a book full of first-hand accounts, from both sides, on what it felt like to fight in one of the greatest battles of all time.

From the role of the Luftwaffe and its mighty stukas, sweeping down on the hapless Soviet infantry and tanks, to the effect of sleep deprivation on both sides, with exhausted Russian soldiers barely able to keep their eyes open after days of constant fighting, Lloyd Clark has really brought the story to life with details and experiences that added something to my understanding of the epic struggle.

He also does a great job of explaining the strategic background, the situation of both combatants and the reasons that brought them to the battlefield. I've read a lot about World War 2, and had been interested in Kursk for a long time - the great turning point of the entire war, together with the battle of Stalingrad. This book helped me place the battle of Kursk in a different perspective than I had ever seen it before. You see, for Hitler and the Germans, everything now depended on this great gamble. They may not have been able to decisively win the war in the east by July 1943, but they certainly had not lost it yet. Everything was poised on a knife edge - and that's what makes Kursk so endlessly fascinating. Lloyd Clark explains Stalin's frustration at the failure of the Western Allies to open up a second front, and the serious chance that, had the Germans been victorious at Kursk, peace negotiations would have ended the war in the East.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars between two stools 14 Dec 2011
Relevant to this review is that I live in Ukraine and had previously read books on East European history, especially of the 20th century. I was disappointed with several things, such as the first 66 pages being devoted to the events in Russia and Germany which led up to WW2 (done better in other books, and unnecessary for me); and then the next 100 pages are devoted to an account of WW2 from December 1940 until February 1943, meaning that it is not until page 165 that the book starts on the topic I was interested in, namely the battle of Kursk, which is covered from pages 166-382.

I chose to buy the hard-copy rather than the Kindle version because maps are important in such a book, and these are not done well on Kindle - but frustratingly the maps relevant to the battle appear nowhere near the relevant text. For the general reader my suggestions to the author/publisher are: 1 - to advise the reader to photocopy the maps so as to have them to hand when he eventually reaches the relevant text; 2 - to aim for more consistency between the naming of military units in the text and on the maps (e.g. sometimes XLVIII, XXXXVIII or 48, why not 48 always? - not everyone knows Latin numbers); 3 - to improve the referencing in the book - the 'order of battle', only part of which is useful to the general reader, is not referred to in the book; 4 - on each 'battle' page the DATE and the relevant map page should be shown. Some of the 'personal' stories are interesting but they are quickly buried among the detail.

For the military specialist, the book seems to be very thoroughly researched, but the first 166 pages are probably not needed, nor some of the 'personal' stories. Even such a reader would struggle to always be sure about what date, which front, which map is being discussed. So I think the book does not work well for either sort of reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and immensely compelling account of an extraordinary...
Brilliantly written that was easy to read and understand. Which such an array of battle formations, tactics and strategy this could've been a very heavy and difficult read. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Graeme Macleod
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
item arrived in excellent condition
Published 1 month ago by PHILIPPOS VOIDOMATIS
4.0 out of 5 stars Better maps please.
A good read that put the battle into context of the war on the Eastern Front. I quite liked the introductions covering the actions and personalities leading up to the battle. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jumac
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Smashing Great
Super Smashing Great
Published 1 month ago by Rollypolly
4.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate miscalculation and the collapse of the Nazi war machine...
The battle of Kursk was many things: to the Wermacht it was the realisation that they were not invincible afterall, to the ordinary soviet soldier it was the opportunity to feel... Read more
Published 2 months ago by spyder_man
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another present
Published 2 months ago by k lawrence
4.0 out of 5 stars a sound analysis
A god read but could do with more, better quality maps. A battle ends to be followed on the ground, not to have a map to guide us is depriving us of full understanding
Published 3 months ago by Stephen Higgins
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a Decent Account
Bought for me as a present off Amazon. I agree with one reviewer who says the pages devoted to the build up to war to be rather pointless and I agree. Read more
Published 5 months ago by P. Mccloskey
5.0 out of 5 stars re the battle of kursk
another historian triumphs with this tale of the greatest tank battle of all. It is like you are there amongst the Panzers and the Russian T-34s, in the heat and smoke of battle,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by philip neill
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
Published 6 months ago by liverpool
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