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Leningrad: State of Siege [Paperback]

Michael Jones
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 May 2009

When the German High Command encircled Leningrad it was a deliberate policy to eradicate the city's civilian population by starving them to death. As winter set in and food supplies dwindled, starvation and panic set in.

A specialist in battle psychology and the vital role of morale in desperate circumstances, Michael Jones tells the human story of Leningrad. Drawing on newly available eyewitness accounts and diaries, he shows Leningrad in its every dimension including taboo truths, long-suppressed by the Soviets, such as looting, criminal gangs and cannibalism.

But, for many ordinary citizens, Leningrad marked the triumph of the human spirit. They drew deeply on their inner resources to inspire, comfort and help one another. At the height of the siege an extraordinary live performance of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony profoundly strengthened the city's will to resist. When German troops heard it in their trenches one remarked: 'We began to understand we would never take Leningrad.

Yet, Leningrad's self-defence came at a huge price. When the 900-day siege ended in 1944 almost a million people had died and those who survived would be permanently marked by what they had endured, as this superbly insightful and moving history shows.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (28 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719569427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719569425
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A tribute to the resilience of the human spirit' (Herald)

'Where the book stands out is in the portrait of ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances... Fluently written... the uniquely terrible experience of suffering, especially of 1941-2, is effectively described' (BBC History)

'Jones's book is set apart from other histories by his careful and judicious use of witness accounts' (Sunday Business Post)

'Detailed account of the 872-day siege of the Soviet Union's iconic city' (Morning Star)

Book Description

In 1941 Hitler's armies blocked the last roads leading into Leningrad. What followed was one of the most horrific sieges in history.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Battle of Leningrad - A New Perspective 1 Sep 2008
Format:Hardcover
What puts this book apart from the existing literature on the subject, is the extent to which the author seeks to go beyond writing a straightforward account of the suffering of the population during the siege (horrendous though that suffering was). Instead, Michael Jones writes evocatively about the mindset of the German besiegers and reveals in great detail the ineptitude of the Russian authorities. He also charts the inhuman depths that some people within the besieged city sunk to in order to survive. Drawing from a huge number of original and authoritative secondary sources Michael gives a very readable account of this black period in the history of Russia. I thoroughly recommend this book and would place it above Salisbury's 'The 900 Days' as the definitive account of this titanic struggle.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book is not an easy read, but one that needed to be written, especially considering all the new literature out there in both English and Russian about the siege. This work then brings together accounts from dozens of sources and interviews to tell an altogether harrowing tale of how millions trapped within Leningrad had to struggle to survive. One of the main points this book will try to address, as Jones did in his previous book on Stalingrad, is how the citizens and soldiers of this city managed to survive and eventually defeat their German opponents. The psychological angle is one that is not often presented as being important. Usually, weapons, commanders, and numbers are glorified or blamed by one side or the other. Here, we have that idea of 'morale' being given center stage, as well as seeing what it is capable of achieving.

Very interesting descriptions are given in regards to when Zhukov took over control of the North Western Front from Voroshilov. On September 11th, 1941, Zhukov assumed command and soon after the 4th Panzer Group was taken out of the area and switched over in preparation for Operation Typhoon, which would throw it against the defenders of Moscow. Zhukov, apparently, couldn't be convinced by those around him that the Germans were digging in around Leningrad and further offensive actions were being discontinued. The end result was a series of needless offensives by Red Army troops in the Oranienbaum bridgehead and around Leningrad which needlessly wasted lives. When a commander refused to obey, in one instance, he was 'sacked' and his replacement was given the same orders.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts... 1 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback
Michael Jones' book is a good introduction to the Siege of Leningrad but suffers from a few problems which, while they are clearly intended to illustrate his points, often detract. The focus of the book is split fairly evenly between the military and civilian aspects of the campaign and from this point of view it makes a good introduction.

The bulk of the book is concerned with the first year of the siege and the catastrophic toll it took on the people of Leningrad. Jones frequently hops between military and civilian topics and while many people might find this distracting, it was not a problem for me. I would actually say it helped in some ways because it stopped reader fatigue from setting in.

While there are many positives to this book, there are nearly as many negatives. Jones' hatred for Voroshilov might be entirely justified in his mind but it would make better history to provide more objective analysis rather than a 40-page diatribe against the man. At that point it starts to sound less than credible. The same might also be said of his references to Stalin, who is always going to be a lightning rod for severe criticism but it should be remembered that not everything he did was stupid or fanatical. In short, I thought a lot of what he said was over-simplified.

Anyone who reads this book will probably already be aware of the malfeasance perpetrated on Soviet citizens by Stalinist officials so it serves little purpose to harp on about it continuously. At that point it becomes almost ritualistic.

Jones has used a very simple formula to tell the story: heroes and villains and fools. The heroes are the citizens and soldiers of the Soviet Union. The villains are the government and apparatchik military leaders and the fools are the Wehrmacht.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars leningrad 13 July 2009
Format:Paperback
Such a very moving, disturbing, revealing and faith-strengening history.

At times the suffering tears at your heart, and the cruelty in the mind of the enemy leadership is beyond humanity. Th epiologue is particularly poignant where, after the war, the now grown up young russian girl goes to Berlin to take the elderly German veterans of the besieging army on a tour of her art work. She receives a weeping apology from a veteran :- "We tried to destroy you - we destroyed ourselves as human beings. On behalf of all of us, we ask your forgiveness" . No such apology was ever offered by the fiendishly corrupt and well-fed city administrators who ignored so callously the suffering of their people.
It reveals so vividly the monstrous nature of all war.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Smashing Great
Super Smashing Great
Published 1 month ago by Rollypolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Least we forget
While the Great Patriotic War is being used in increasingly Stalinistic ways to thwart contemporary debate (today 9th May being celebrated throughout many communities in what was... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stafford Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive coverage
Not too much repetition and lots of datelined details which I found to be accurate.I was a youngster in WW2 but seem to remember
Leningrad getting more coverage than... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Robert Hoyle
2.0 out of 5 stars dissapointing
Fills in some of the background to david Glantz's more substantial military/operational study, but given the choice I would go for the latter.
Published 10 months ago by Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars Leningrad State of Siege
I bought this book after recently visiting the beautiful city of St Petersburg. Seeing the wonderful buildings, and then on the last day being shocked to see photographs of those... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Micky Ricky
5.0 out of 5 stars Micael Jones insight into the German siege of Lenningrad
I had visited St.Petersburg in summer 2012, but unfortunately had been told little of the detail about the German siege of this city. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Caster
5.0 out of 5 stars Leningrad
Micheal K Jones is fast becoming my favorite Author. Leningrad is a very well researched book. The Author brings the siege alive with his writing style. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Paulo
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good parts, some boring parts
Pros:

Breaks the taboo of hunger and cannibalism during the Leningrad siege. The issue of cannibalism being uncomfortable, a blind eye is generally turned on it. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2011 by Steve Bolton
5.0 out of 5 stars A war crime in its own right
I have been looking for a book on the seige of Leningrad for sometime and came across this gem on Amazon. This book is brilliant. Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2011 by Mrs. TK Ellis
4.0 out of 5 stars The sense of being alive
The common people of Leningrad -formerly St. Petersburg when the Germans and their allies commenced their invasion of the former Soviet Union on June 22, 1941- endured a 900 day... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2011 by N. Jones
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