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The Battle of Kursk: Operation Citadel 1943 (Penguin Classic Military History) Paperback – 25 Apr 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New edition edition (25 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014139109X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141391090
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 16.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 492,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

Robin Cross is a distinguished military historian and is the author of VE Day: Victory in Europe and The Bombers: Strategy and Tactics. He was the Consultant Editor of The Guinness Encyclopedia of Warfare.

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ON 19 JULY 1940, Adolf Hitler convened the Reichstag in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to witness the creation of twelve field marshals. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Feiraco on 10 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Cross' book about the 1943 Kursk battle, the biggest ever clash between tanks, starts with a long introduction occupying the main part of the book. It's like a movie when one's waiting for the action to begin, but this waiting even continues after the break.
It's interesting to read about the build-up, but this means the actual battle is considered less. And when it all starts, many troop movements are described. But I would have liked to have seen more personal comments of soldiers involved. It contains some, most of them from the German perspective, and they make the book come to life.
Furthermore, sometimes Cross gives hints about the brutality involved but doesn't go into it. For example, in just one sentence he talks about soldiers of the Totenkopf division certainly facing death when captured. It's one of those subjects one would like to read more about, because it added to the harshness of this clash.
Overall, this book is a good read about a decisive battle on the Eastfront. No more, no less.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HBH on 9 April 2008
Format: Paperback
The Battle of Kursk is in many ways the defining battle of the war on the Eastern Front in the Second World War. It marked the last great German offensive and the largest tank battle in history but in the West it has been almost totally forgotten by the general public. This book though is a must if you want to know about this battle. It is fast-paced and quite detailed and explains why things worked out as they did. However, it does perhaps lack that certain spark of inspiration that marks some works out, also it does not really deal with the events after the battle in an adequate way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ollybeak on 26 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very interesting book, well written full of interesting facts, and information that I wasn't aware of previously. I would recomend this book.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By T. MacFarlane on 26 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book was first published in hardback in 1993, at a time when the 'Ostfront' was rather less well known in the West.
This is the first book to be written on what was probably one of the decisive battles of the war. Had Hitler won, the war might well have continued for much longer, with uncertain consequences; eg time for further development of the V weapons, and jet aircraft.
Like Napoleon, Hitler only understood offensive warfare, and Operation Citadel was a huge gamble, coming so soon after the defeat at Stalingrad.
Of special interest is the chronical of the repeated delays in getting the offensive started - the order was signed by Hitler on 15 April 1943, but, despite Manstein's pleas, it did not start until 4 July.
By this time, however, Bletchley Park had been tracking German plans since April, and passing its findings to Stalin via the Lucy network in Switzerland.
This chimed in with the plan which Zhukov had been working on since March.
All this is described in great detail by Robin Cross, such that we do not get to the actual battle until Chapter 7.
The climactic of the battle, around the village of Prokhorovka, gets a full chapter in itself. On 12 July 1943, in a "colossal melee, fought at practically point blank range" the German Tiger tanks lost the advantage of range over the T34s. The thoroughness of the Russians prepared defences had paid off.
They expected the German attack to resume on 13 July, but the advantage had now swung to the Russians. On 17 July the Russian counter-offensive began. As Cross records, the Russian defences had been so effective as to sap moral "to the point where the will to press home attacks ... was ebbing away."
The war in the east was lost.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A discombobulated account of a great battle 29 Dec. 2003
By "volobuev" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This books covers what many consider the greatest battle of the WWII: the battle of the Kursk Salient, aka Operation Citadel. Lately the word 'Kursk' has received some notoriety due to the disaster on board of the Russian nuclear submarine 'Kursk', however, few people in the West really know why a huge nuclear sub was named after a relatively obscure Russian city.
When people think of the Eastern Front, Stalingrad is usually known as the single greatest battle, and the rest of the action is mired in relative obscurity. While the Battle of Stalingrad was indeed a great and very important event of the war, it was not the real turning point; the great German war machine was stopped and defeated, but the events took place during the fearsome Russian winter, and in an urban environment. The question still remained: could Soviet Army withstand a summer German offensive, something that noone has been able to accomplish to that date? That question was answered in the summer of 1943 on the plains and rolling hills around Kursk. The scale and intensity of the fighting that took place there is unparalleled by any other battle of the WWII. It was truly the Hell of Earth.
The book by Robin Cross attempts to cover the preliminaries of the battle, as well as the battle itself in great detail. The description of the situation leading up to the battle is reasonably comprehensive. However, the account of the main events suffers greatly from author's apparent lack of knowledge of the Russian language (demonstrated by frequent poor transliteration of Russian words) and subsequent reliance on sources available in English and/or German. The most interesting part, battle participants' accounts, is utterly one-sided. While numerous German sources are quoted, the only Soviet sources are those of a few members of high command. So the description of the action on the ground is basically presented from the German point of view, and the Soviet soldiers are thus portrayed as some faceless force that brave (and highly successful, per cited accounts) German forces had to fight through. This create a sense of confusion as to the ultimate outcome; understandably, German accounts concentrate on the few successes encountered during the battle, and it's somewhat unclear from reading this book why the battle has ultimately ended in German defeat. Most of the most vivid eyewitnesses' accounts can also be found in another book, 'Scorched Earth'. In general, the book has the feel of a work put together by rehashing previously published information, without sufficient effort applied to maintain overall self-coherency. Understandably, Soviet and German sources provide rather different pictures of events that took place, as it usually happens with any battle, and any historian attempting an independent and objective treatment has to work hard to present the reader with the picture of what really took place, otherwise the reader will walk away still not really sure what has really took place, as it's the case with this book. Example: the Prokhorovka battle was the single greatest tank engagement of the war, with roughly 1400 tanks involved. Robin Cross, having described the ferocity of the clash, goes on to argue (having based the entire argument on a single source of information of a questionable value) that basically no German tanks were destroyed during an entire day of extremely ferocious tank-on-tank fighting, and leaves this strange fact basically unexplained. Again, consulting more sources would be of great help here.
While the Battle of Kursk was a monumental event that is definitely worth reading about, this particular book is probably not the one to read given any choice.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
GOOD READ, NOT SPECTACULAR 3 Jun. 2005
By Feiraco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cross' book about the 1943 Kursk battle, the biggest ever clash between tanks, starts with a long introduction occupying the main part of the book. It's like a movie when one's waiting for the action to begin, but this waiting even continues after the break.

It's interesting to read about the build-up, but this means the actual battle is considered less. And when it all starts, many troop movements are described. But I would have liked to have seen more personal comments of soldiers involved. It contains some, most of them from the German perspective, and they make the book come to life.

Furthermore, sometimes Cross gives hints about the brutality involved but doesn't go into it. For example, in just one sentence he talks about soldiers of the Totenkopf division certainly facing death when captured. It's one of those subjects one would like to read more about, because it added to the harshness of this clash.

Overall, this book is a good read about a decisive battle on the Eastfront. No more, no less.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Average at best 9 Sept. 2007
By Anthony Bates - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I picked up this book I thought I was going to read about the Battle of Kursk. At 252 pages I thought I was going to immersed in all the tactical detail and personal experiences of this great battle. Not so.

What I got was over half the book detailing events (in a big picture sense) from the winter of 41 through to the opening moves of the german summer counter-offensive. Inbetween, Cross wanders off and writes at length about the two dictators and their styles of command, the consequences of Germany's rapidly depleting manpower resources, as well as brief examinations of some of the tanks involved among other things.

When you eventually get to the battle, Cross's narative keeps switching from strategic to tactical; high command to infantryman perspectives; north then south, then back to north, German then Russian views. So while the technical/factual information is correct, his disjointed approach does not allow the reader to flow with the battle.

I agree with another reviewer that the majority of quotions come from the German side, and this does create certain impressions - however one should remember that even though the book was first published in 1993, access to Russian records was by no means easy and so Cross could be forgiven for relying heavily on German sources.

Finally, the most interesting part of the book is Cross's attempt to dispel the myth that Prokhorovka was the greatest tank battle in history with hundreds of burning tank hulks left after days of fighting. Cross claims to show that when German tank strength returns are analysed, there is no way that the number of destroyed German commonly reported could be true. However, in keeping with his disjointed approach, this controversial argument is not conclusively examined and one is left wondering why he included it all.

This is certainly not the worst book on Kursk, but conversely it struggles to be anywhere near the better books on this subject.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good starter book 15 Jun. 2009
By Dave Schranck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I consider this book "Kursk Lite" for while the events listed are accurate, its only a subset of the entire battle. With the author jumping around, leaving certain engagements out it can be confusing. You wonder after leaving the 48th PzC on the 7th in the morning and not hearing from them again until the 8th in the afternoon, you wonder what events you missed in the last 24 hour period. This happens a lot in the book.

The basic story ends on the 12th with the tank battle at Prokhorovka. The last chapter does briefly mention the German retreat to the Dniepr River but there are no details. There are no details of the counterattack on Model's 9th Army at Orel.
There are a few photos which were good and there are a few simple but effective maps as well. The maps were custom made to the text for they are incomplete as well.

I would suggest this book be read by students or people with a cursory interest in reading about a key battle in WWII. The gaps in the action will not be that noticeable and the concise manner will not intimidate like David Glantz's book. If this read doesn't satisfy, you could read David Glantz, Stephen Newton or Mark Healy for a more robust telling of the battle.
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