The German conduct of Operation Barbarossa against the Russians along the Eastern front was an incredibly massive and at first very successful campaign which slowly but fatefully turned against the Wehrmacht due both to an underestimation of the strength and resiliency of the Russians on the one hand, and the Germans' over-confidence and arrogance on the other. Indeed, nowhere was their conduct more self-defeating or more disastrous than at Kursk, in one of the most fateful conflicts in the war. In this book, author Walter S. Dunn concentrates tellingly on relating the stunning particulars of the epic exchanges at Kursk that, when the smoke and dust finally cleared, fatefully altered the entire balance of World War Two, not only for the so-called Eastern front of the war, but for the entire Allied war effort in Europe. One might argue that in this regard, if Stalingrad was that point in the conflict at which the fortunes of the Wehrmacht were first so fatefully reversed, then Kursk was the point of no return, where the specter of unavoidable eventual defeat and the horrific destruction of the Nazi Wehrmacht was all that lay ahead.
The Battle of Kursk was one of the most pivotal and epochal struggles in the Allied war against the Germans, and comprised one of the largest tank engagements in military history. Through its devastating destruction in terms of the number of functional and operating armored vehicles left for the Wehrmacht to continue their prosecution of the war, it was the turning point in the war, the catastrophic defeat the Nazis could no longer afford to absorb. In this regard, considerable controversy has revolved around the extent to which Hitler himself was to blame for the terrible defeats at Kursk, given his fabled micromanagement of the Eastern campaign in general and the battle at Kursk in particular. The author engages such arguments both quite directly and forcefully, and readers will appreciate the intellect, accuracy, and details contained in his overview of the events at Kursk, as well as their import for subsequent events along the Eastern front.
Too many Americans familiar only with the Cold War aspects of Russian history tend to be ignorant of the critical contribution the Soviets made in winning a war so essential to the survival of democracy. It is an uneasy truth that without the Russian contribution in battling up to 200 divisions of German Wehrmacht troops for over four years, our entry onto the continent in France would not have been possible in 1944. Indeed, risking such a large sea borne assault would have been problematic against a force of the numbers of troops who would have been available had they not been otherwise preoccupied and engaged in an epic effort attempting to stem the terrible onslaught they were receiving at the hands of a resurgent Soviet Army. This isn't to claim the Russians could (or would) have won the war themselves, although there are serious and scholarly arguments forwarding such propositions. Rather, it is to contend that the Russian front became the real-life tar baby requiring so much German energy and resources that the Nazis were unable to adequately defend against the Allied invasion in Normandy in June 1944.
Many historians now contend that the Russians single-handedly repeatedly smashed (and cumulatively diminished) the vast and critically important war-fighting capabilities the Wehrmacht continued to thrust against them, and that in doing so they changed the course of the war both along the Eastern front and for the war against the Allies in general. The evidence of just how formidable, ferocious, and inexhaustible opponents they had become in the two short years since the inauguration of Operation Barbarossa is detailed and documented herein, showing how a series of hasty, chaotic, and disastrous German attacks at Kursk led into the largest armored confrontation in the war and precipitated the devolution of the once proud Wehrmacht into a fragmented, fractious, and mortally wounded fighting force soon compelled to retreat, foot by foot all the way back to Berlin, losing millions of soldiers along the way. This is an authoritative, carefully documented, and absolutely entertaining account of one of the most important battles of WWII, and I highly recommend it. Enjoy.