Although an interesting read, this is a slightly disappointing book. When you consider it is put together from Grossman's notebooks, perhaps this should not be surprising. It is bare reportage. It gives a very impressionistic picture of the Red Army and the war on the Russian Front and is held together by Anthony Beevor's linking passages where a little historical perspective and analysis add some welcome coherence. Grossman served as a Red Star war correspondent and his notebooks, collected and edited into this book, do give vivid snapshots of the chaotic retreat in 1941, the sniper war in Stalingrad (perhaps the most vivid bit), the strange ways of the Red Army, the rapid re-conquest of Ukraine and Belarus, the liberation of Treblinka and eastern Poland (the grimest but perhaps most important section) and the final seizure of Berlin. It is a fairly grim tale leavened by Grossman's obvious humanity and lack of virulent partisanship. It is almost a verbal newsreel. It doesn't show everything, parts of the story aren't covered at all and it doesn't analyse or discuss anything. It is also a shame the notebooks don't focus more on the skills, organisation, comradeship and character of Red Army soldiers and officers which must have been a key to the Red Army's ultimate success. One comes away with an impression of the war on the Russian Front but no coherent understanding.