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Russia's War Paperback – 2 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141049170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141049175
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

As German armies stampeded through the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Nazi politicians and Western statesmen alike predicted the former U.S.S.R's collapse. In Russia's War, a balanced and acute portrayal of a combat theatre that claimed more than 40 million Soviet lives, Richard Overy tells the story of how Stalin and his commanders held off defeat and engineered the most significant military achievement of the Second World War: the destruction of the Wehrmacht.

Russia's War is far from a tale of triumph, as the Russian capacity for resourceful creativity, desperate courage and raw endurance was matched, if not exceeded, by the brutal oppression of the Soviet system. Overy argues, however, that victory was the result of precisely this uneasy combination. Drawing from extensive archival sources made available in the wake of Glasnost, he revises both our conception of the Red Army as a horde that overwhelmed the Germans and the accepted wisdom that Hitler's defeat was the result of strategic bungling and a logistical overreach of the Nazi forces. Perhaps his most poignant contribution is the discussion of the crisis that recent disclosures have provoked in the Russian understanding of the conflict. What was once viewed as the "Great Patriotic War" has become "a crucible of miserable and incomprehensible revelations." In spite of these confusions, Russia's War commences to find significance in a contest that repeatedly disquiets and humbles the historical imagination. --James Highfill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Masterly ... a vivid account (Robert Service Independent)

A dramatic and exciting tale ... His set-piece descriptions of such visions of Hell as Stalingrad, the 900-day siege of Leningrad and the crucial battle of Kursk are as fascinating as they are horrifying (Alan Judd Sunday Times)

Overy is a first-class military historian ... He writes concisely and says what he means to say ... Now, we have an authoritative British account that understands both sides, without illusions (Norman Stone Spectator)

Excellent ... Overy tackles this huge, complex and multifaceted story with the vital gifts of clarity and brevity (Antony Beevor Literary Review)

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By conjunction on 1 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This isn't a cheery book to read. In fact my jaw dropped, on a number of occasions, as I read it.

For me the most important thing to say about it is that it quite radically challenged my understanding of what happened in the Second World War, a view which was formed primarily by reading Churchill.

In his book 'The World at War', which kind of softened me up for reading Overy, Mark Arnold-Forster suggests that if necessary Russia could have defeated Germany unaided, and that the Germans weren't defeated because of their own incompetence or the weather but that they met a militarily superior opponent.

Overy doesn't make the first claim but he backs up the rest. Although Russia had a vast army and considerable weaponry at the outset of the war they were disorganised and in particular Stalin was unwilling to trust his generals. It took about a year and a half for these problems to be overcome and after that Russia hardly put a foot wrong. Having said that he also makes clear the important of the 'lend-lease' supplies the Russians got from the USA.

According to Khruschev in 1956, and these figures are supported by Overy, Russia lost about 25 million people as a direct result of the war. This included over six million soldiers killed in action. 80% of Germany's soldiers killed were on the Eastern Front. The scale of the war is what had not got through to me prior to reading this book.

Other points which Overy makes were that the Germans regarded the Russians as subhuman and committed many atrocities in the huge areas of Russia they occupied.

He also goes into great length about internal repression in Russia before, during and after the war.
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95 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Mr. W. A. P. Brown on 7 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is not only a thoroughly researched work of scholarship, but a brillantly written and engrossing narrative of how Russia succeded in defeating the Nazi war machine, hitherto the most formidable and effective military force in world history. Since the cessetion of the Cold War, and building on the work of scholars such as John Erickson and David Glantz, there has been a fundamental reassessment of the Russian experience in the Second World War. This book indicates that the Russian victory was underpinned by an ability to mobilise the entire nation and economy, often by brutal means, into a total war. Neither are the Russians presented as a homgeneous horde, as they were in earlier works, but as a complex mosaic of differening ethnicities and political persuasions.
This book challenged my previous belief that the German army came close to total victory within the first year, and that if Moscow had fallen then it would have been virtually sealed. In fact, much of the population and industrial production had already been relocated far beyond Moscow in the Urals, and given the Russian capacity for flexible defensive strategies and a developing capacity to launch counter offensives, the obstacles that stood in the way of a German victory begin to look daunting. Overy makes it clear that Stalin made an fatal miscalcualtion in his belief that Germany would not make war with Russia before the spring of 1942, and the sheer ease of the German victories in the weeks following Barbarossa must be seen as a consequence of a total lack of preparedness of the Red Army. After the initial shock (and enormous losses) brought about by the invasion, the expanding Russian mobilization and increasingly over-stretched German army began to favour a Soviet triumph.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Simon C McCrum on 18 Jan. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Richard Overy's book on the war on the Eastern Front is a towering achievement. Using previously unreleased archives and papers Overy challenges many widely held opinions and beliefs and convincingly alters conventional thinking on a number of issues. The book is extremely well written and very hard to put down.
It all starts with the rise of Stalin, the desperate famines of the early 30's and the vicious purges of the military, Jewish communities, intellectuals and others. It details the crushing defeats of the opening German assaults, the 900 day siege of Leningrad and the cauldron of Stalingrad. The book follows the fortunes of the Russian army right to the surrender and fall of Berlin. The book ends with the post-war arguing between the Allies, Stalin's death, and the 'iron curtain' falling across Europe.
Anyone with an interest in this period, or even on modern-day Europe, must read this book, it is excellent.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hussar on 25 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the books that Mr Beevor should have read before producing his narratives on Stalingrad and Berlin (good though they are).
It dispells so many myths about the USSR's war but also provides the evidence to back it all up. Just read the section on the Warsaw uprising and you'll soon understand more about the unfortunate circumstances there than a whole heap of other 'reliable sources' could tell you.

The horror of the NKVD terror, Stalin's paranoia, the titanic efforts of the average Red Army soldier, it's all there.

Well worth buying and keeping. I think it's fantastic.
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