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The War Of The Rats [Paperback]

David L. Robbins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Oct 1999
Stalingrad in 1942 is a city in ruins, its Russian defenders fighting to repel the invading German army. One of their most potent weapons is the crack sniper school developed by Vasily Zaitsev, whose skill means that no German, and particularly no German officer, can ever feel safe.

Product details

  • Paperback: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (21 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752825259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752825250
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 14.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,136,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David L. Robbins was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 10, 1954. He grew up in Sandston, a small town east of Richmond out by the airport; his father was among the first to sit behind the new radar scope in the air traffic control tower. Both his parents, Sam and Carol, were veterans of WWII. Sam saw action in the Pacific, especially at Pearl Harbor.

In 1976, David graduated with a B.A. in Theater and Speech from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Having little actual theatrical talent, he didn't know what to do for a living. David decided to attend what he calls the "great catch-basin of unfocused over-achievers": law school. He received his Juris Doctorate at William and Mary in 1980, then practiced environmental law in Columbia, S.C. for precisely a year (his father demanded back the money for law school if David practiced for less than one year - he quit two weeks before the anniversary but got Sam to agree that the two weeks' vacation David had accumulated could be included). David decided to attend Psychology school, having an affinity for people's stories and a fascination with woe. However, while waiting for admisison in 1981, he began a successful freelance writing career. He began writing fiction in 1990, and has since published twelve novels. He is currently working on the thirteenth, as well several scripts for the stage and screen.

Robbins is an accomplished guitarist, studying the works of James Taylor and Latin classical. At six feet six inches tall, he stays active with his sailboat, shooting sporting clays, weightlifting, traveling to research his novels. He is the co-founder of the James River Writers (, a non-profit group in his hometown of Richmond that helps aspiring writers and students work and learn together as a writing community. He also co-founded The Podium Foundation (thepodiumfoundation,org), a non-profit which brings writing and critical reasoning programs to the students of Richmond's city high schools. He also teaches advanced creative writing as a visiting professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Honors College. David resides in Richmond. You can contact him, or read more, at

Product Description

Book Description

'White-knuckle tension as the two most dangerous snipers in Europe hunt each other through the hell of Stalingrad. Immensely exciting and terribly authentic' Frederick Forsyth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

David L. Robbins is the author of several bestselling novels including THE WAR OF THE RATS. A former attorney, he now writes full-time. Visit his website at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! One helluva book 21 Jan 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
WAR OF THE RATS is a superb novel of combat. Combat in a theater of World War II that most Americans, dismally familiar only with the fighting role of the US in the Pacific and Europe, know little about - the Russian Front. Specifically, in this book, the Battle of Stalingrad at the end of 1942.
Chief Master Sergeant Vasily Zaitsev ("The Hare") is an expert sniper in the 62nd Army, that force of the Red Army desperately maintaining a toehold in Stalingrad, under siege by the German 6th Army. Zaitsev is so good at his job that he is ordered to establish a sniper school. One of his students is Tania Chernova, an American woman of Russian descent fighting to avenge the execution of her grandparents at the hands of the Nazis. The graduates of The Hare's training become so proficient at killing Germans that the morale of the 6th Army's front-line troops is seriously threatened. Zaitsev becomes a Red Army hero and a winner of the Order of Lenin. As a counter, the Reich's most expert sniper, SS Colonel Heinz Thorvald ("The Headmaster"), is flown from Germany into the Stalingrad battle. His orders - to find and kill The Hare.
There is no superlative too extravagant to describe this book. At 470 pages in paperback, I absorbed it at one sitting on a flight from Washington, DC to Los Angeles. Zaitsev, Chernova and Thorvald were all actual combatants in Stalingrad. Their roles, as well as the movements of both the German and Russian forces in the battle as a whole, are facts lifted from historical sources researched by the author, David Robbins. The insight Robbins gives the reader into the skills and training of the military sniper is absolutely riveting. The action is gritty and realistic. The characters are finely drawn.
One measure of a novel's excellence is its ability to inspire the reader to delve further into the subject. I've just added to my Wish List a history of the Stalingrad siege.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 11 Sep 2001
By A Customer
A real and authentic page turner. Any one interested in reading about two 'supersnipers' trying to outwit one another against a back drop of an annihilated city with a murderous war raging through it should pick this up. The characters come to life staright away and the writing is concise and punchy and at times can be quite something other than you'd expect to find in your average day to day thriller. The tiny details of the sniper war are just superb, every little nuance is here and that, coupled with the writers aforementioned writing style, puts you right behind the rifle, staring through the telescopic sights (and lowering your heart rate to an absolute minimum; you'll see!). Towards the end there is a harrowing scene of injury sustain3d by one of the main characters. Its at this point you kind of 'begin' to understand ( or form an idea ) of how horrific the war was. It kind of acts as reminder as the sniper battle is to be honest good entertainment, but then this scene pops up and reminds you that it was a very real time and an incredibley horrible one! Superb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable 8 April 2000
David Robbins simple literary style is used to great effect in bringing you straight into the story, which is engrossing if a little predictable. The four main protagonists are believable, and the reader is given time to get to know them, and inevitably care what happens to them.
The story itself, based loosely as it is on a true story, moves along in a fairly linear way, and the twists and turns which I felt the first half of the book promised, never really materialised. The young beautiful American, who having lost her grandparents to the Nazis, decides to join the partisans and dedicate her life to the war. Her passing herself off as Russian perfectly at all times even though she was raised in New York, before inevitably becoming the love interest of the main character, stretches credibility a little. That this entirely gratuitous character, who it transpires happens to be an excellent marksman, having probably had little real reason to make the most of her talents whilst growing up, does not irritate more, is testament to the skill of the writer. In deed to some degree she becomes believable, which given the number of clichés she represents, is no mean feat.
The Stalingrad of 1942 that these characters inhabit is elegantly and subtly described. By understating the description of such squalor and deprivations we know existed and choosing instead to leave these things in the background, and refer to them only as they apply directly to the characters, David Robbins has produced a wonderfully authentic setting for the story. And therein lies its real strength.
History must be more than dates and facts if it is to have any value, the real worth of such an authentic description is that it allows us to better understand the past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vasily Zaitsev 16 Mar 2009
Whilst the brave exploits of Vasily Zaitsev have been well documented, there is no evidence whatsoever of the existence of his alleged rival, a Heinze Thorwald.Sixth Army records have not revealed such an individual. It would appear that the character has been a propaganda creation, not unusual during the maelstrom of the Battle of Stalingrad.
Zaitsev himself was taught by another sniper, Alexander Kalentiev, and in due course Zaitsev would become the first of the Stalingrad 'Sniper School' to be credited with 100 kills.Furthermore, Zaitsev is credited with the famous slogan 'There is no land for us beyond the Volga'. This is a variation on Stalin's infamous Order 227 - 'No Step Back'.
Zaitsev's slogan was adopted by the Commander of the 62nd Army, Vasily Chuikov and widely circulated amongst the troop of the Red Army at Stalingrad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars WAR OF THE RATS by David L. Robbins
In Stalingrad the Soviet soldier Vasily Zaitsev becomes so successful as a sniper that the Germans send their own top sniper to hunt him down in a duel that will decide the fate of... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Yohji
5.0 out of 5 stars Desolate
Gripping and compelling but in a dark voyeuristic way. The forces both within and without which set snipers apart from regular soldiers as cold blooded killers remain a mystery but... Read more
Published 6 months ago by bodgit and sons
4.0 out of 5 stars The War of the Rats by David L Robbins
I have given this story, which is largely based on fact, a four star rating. An interesting read with a mix of fact and fiction relating to the Second World War battle of... Read more
Published 8 months ago by anon
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
This is a fascinating story of true bravery and the true horrors of war. Robbins writing puts you there with the characters. Will be looking to read more of his books.
Published 8 months ago by Ceirion Parry
5.0 out of 5 stars war of the rats gripping read
great book, was recommended from another book I read. Couldnt put it down. This is the book that inspired enemy at the gates with Jude Law. The film doesnt even compare. Read more
Published on 5 Aug 2009 by Odin
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb - buy it!
Not much to add to what the other reviewers have said about this brilliant page-turner of a book. Snipers in Stalingrad... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely suspenseful read
I thoroughly enjoyed the book although I agree with many of the qualifying comments below. The characterisation of the protagonists - the rival German and Russian snipers is good... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars A bittersweet novel about a terrible battle
This is a great World War Two book. If you want to learn about Stalingrad, it gives you a good feel for it. The duel between the two snipers is interresting. Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and gripping
The novel tells the story of two crack snipers from either side hunting each other in the ruins of Stalingrad. Read more
Published on 8 Aug 2000 by Simon C McCrum
3.0 out of 5 stars Cheesy but enjoyable war story
I do enjoy a tale of historical events given some artistic licence and this book did deliver this. It was definately a page turner but I did find myself cringing at some of the... Read more
Published on 2 Aug 2000
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