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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2010
There is probably is little more I can add that hasn't already been said about this book, other than add to the weight of opinion that it is a very, very, very good read indeed.

It's no small thing to string together an event of such enormous importance as the events at Stalingrad, the months and indeed years that preceded and followed the battle, the thousands of miles of terrain relevant to the conflict; and the millions of lives caught up in such apocalyptic events.

But, as in his book about the battle of Berlin, Beevor manages this admirably. He has a real gift for conveying tactical events infused with the humanizing voices and characters of an enormous cast of characters, from Hitler and Stalin, their Generals and senior officers, to ordinary soldiers and civilians. The equal weight given to contemporary voices ensures that this book is no dry history lesson- the narrative is grand and yet personal at the same time.

This book is very popular, and deservedly so. A real page turner.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 1999
El Alamein, Midway, Stalingrad. The three turning points for the Allies during World War Two (I exclude Hiroshima). Stalingrad was THE decisive victory, from which point Hitler knew he could never win. Antony Beevor has pulled together the right balance of research; intimate moments in the dug out, to Paulus' decisions. The horror of how the battle was fought, the fact that anyone managed to survive, the bravery of both sides, the sense of betrayal by the German forces, is all there. Sometimes it is a humbling experience to read the book; catch yourself wanting to learn more about the conditions, the starvation, the vicious fighting, and you will understand what I mean. That is the strength of the book. Written in a style that makes you want to stick matches under your eyelids to read more is no mean feat. Beevor has in one book explained how the human spirit can never be broken. My only wish is that he were to do the same for the Battle for Berlin. For a Russian view, read Vladimir Karpov's "Russia at War" or track down a copy of "The year of stalingrad" by Alexander Werth. Beevor still tops these two in my opinion. If anyone ever tells you who won the war, correct them; it was the Russians at Stalingrad. Beevor has (for me) reappraised a previously undervalued watershed in warfare per se. Read it. The book should come with a "money back if not completely satisfied" sticker: there would be few takers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2002
Stalingrad is a carefully balanced mix of a factual history book and a narrative of the profound suffering that occured on both sides. The focus is almost entirely on the battle for Stalingrad, although enough is given on either side to put the battle in context.
It reads well, although I found it focussed too much on detailed facts (such as the movement of specific divisions) in parts. Overall though, manages to stay well clear of being classed an overly fact-heavy history text book. Stalingrad flows well despite not having any real central characters. This void, if anything, would be my only complaint.
The importance of this conflict is such, that it should be read by anyone interested in World War II and/or Russian history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2014
An incredible story, by an outstanding storyteller. Stalingrad must rank with the Battle Of Britain as one of the major game-changers, the heroic epics, of World War II.

Others have provided more scholarly reviews of Beevor's book, so I have little to add. Suffice to say that although he writes a history (from Germany's invasion of Russia, to the annihilation of her Sixth Army), he engages your attention as might a writer of crime or spy thrillers. I never find his text dry. It is vibrant and succinct, with an attention to detail which nicely fleshes out the picture, but is never overdone.

Beevor's genius is to do the hard miles of research into numerous texts & sources, and collate it all into a compelling narrative, which I found un-putdownable.

After 18 months of advance, 2000 miles deep into the Russian hinterland, the German Army experiences the elation of success, rolling in Panzer columns unopposed across the vast Russian steppe (prairie) between the rivers Don and Volga. It is midsummer, shirtsleeves and shorts weather, with letters from home, and another major victory anticipated, as they approach Stalingrad, the model Soviet city, commanding the river Volga, & funneling Russia's vital war materials shipped from Britain & America, through Iran & the Caspian Sea.

They find Stalingrad's defenders ferociously stubborn, despite massive aerial bombardment reducing the city to rubble, and so a second Russian winter falls upon them, along with exhaustion & frostbite. They have little inkling that the Russians, thought to be on their last legs, are preparing, under Marshal Zhukov & Generals Chuikov & Yeremenko, a massive, audacious & devastating counterstrike.

Beevor has a knack for putting you in place, as he sets the scene, on both sides, in the run-up to 19 Nov 1942, when Zhukov's forces were unleashed, up to 100 miles to the rear of the German spearhead in the city. Two Soviet army groups, attacking on both German flanks, manned largely by Romanian, Italian, & Hungarian divisions, and more vulnerable than the central German divisions.

After 18 months of defeat and retreat, the Red Army at long last has its opportunity for retribution against the invader. Beevor states that on this day:

"For those who took part, it was the happiest day of the whole war, including even the final German surrender in Berlin".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2013
Anthony Beevor is an excellent writer and this book, in spite of its true horrors, reads almost like a romance. The author refrains from entering the subjective terrain remaining almost always very factual. You will find here more honesty and competence and less new theoretical advances or formulations. Superbly researched, it flows smoothly from the beginning of operation Barbarossa into the deadly Stalingrad trap which cost the lives of thousands and ended in the annihilation of the Sixth Army, giving way to the psychological turning point of the war.

Logically divided and thus very easy to follow, it is rich in historical and military detail, never forgetting to enhance the human tragedy, either of civilians or combatants. You feel the tears running down the pages and the buildings crashing in your hands, and you ask yourself over and over how could men have endured such a calamity and how it was possible for this madness to have taken place just 70 years ago.

The rhythm of this dramatic tale is voracious, with tensions giving way to higher tensions which in turn explode into a never ending spiral of unheard violence. You despair with Chuikov and Paulus in their bunkers as the "Rattenkrieg" takes completely hold of your mind. Page after page you are pushed toward the end until there is nothing more left to read, just like there was no more city to see.

There are some critics in a few reviews accusing Beevor of taking the German side and being unfair and untrue when depicting the Russians. Well, all I can say is that they must have read another book, because after reading this one, I was left with an heroic image of the Russian army and with the impression that only the Russian soldier could have faced such a ferocious enemy and win.

A magnificent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 March 2013
Stalingrad was one of the worst battles of the Second World War. Anthony Beevor's brilliant book drives this horrific story from the events of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR in June of 1941, through to Operation Uranus, the Soviet encirclement of the German Army of November 1942 and ending with the surrender and defeat of the Germans in February 1943. No prior knowledge of this battle is required to appreciate this triumphant book.

Beevor does not spare the reader from the brutal conditions of the events, nor learning about war crimes committed by both armies. Just as much focus is given to the depictions of Soviet and German high command, as to the terrible life of the boots on the ground: Stalin's vengeful paranoia and Hitler's increasing detachment from military reality, both play out their bloody, murderous dramas.

What brings this all together so superbly is Beevor's talent, not only as a great historian who has amassed a huge amount of information but his writing ability, in filtering all of this detail in to a highly readable account of what is often described as not only the turning point of the Second World War (where Germany received a definitive defeat and really made them retreat for the first time) but also the first conflict of the emerging Cold War, with Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt all attempting to manage each other, to establish power-relations for a post-war world.

In short, in writing Stalingrad, Anthony Beevor has helped capture an event so awful that it almost transcends history to become myth. Beevor has kept the human dimension, in all it's terrible suffering, front and center. Stalingrad ends with the start of the Soviet march towards Germany. This book was so impressive that I immediately started Beevor's companion piece, Berlin: The Downfall 1945.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2013
Here in the UK at the last general election at the local bookshop, I noticed books recommended by prominent British politicians from all the major parties, which as you can imagine were quite a eclectic range. However I saw that many politicians from all over the political spectrum, had read one book in common. Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor.

Admittedly it had been on my "to read" list for a number of years, recommended by a good friend, but it was only then that my curiosity was piqued. I wish I had read it earlier. While I do read some military history, its not usually my favorite category, and when I do its usually ancient warfare or the North African German/British/Italian WWII campaign, knowing very little about the Russian campaign except the trite platitudes of it being 'Hitlers greatest Mistake'(Which after reading this book will take a whole different meaning)

Well, I thoroughly recommend this book, if only because it puts it puts WWII in a different perspective than from the Western European/American perspective we have been fed, partly by through popular culture. If the North African Campaign was "Krige ohne Hass" (war without hate) as put forward by Rommel, then Stalingrad stands out as main example to the monumental folly of war and the absurd hatred and butchery it can entail.

The book which can be initially dense and confusing eventually settles down to reads almost as fantastic war novel, which had it not been so well cross referenced and annotated, I would swear was pure fiction. Some of the horrific events described could not be made up. From the German invasion to the Siege of Stalingrad, and eventual encirclement and destruction of the 6th Army the book is one of butchery and tales of heroism and tragic loss of human life that sometimes will make you gasp, shake your head or simply snarl in impotent rage at the crass stupidity of some of the policy makers involved. The personalities and units involved take a life of their own, from the evermore fixated and delusional Hitler, to the tigger happy paranoia of the NKVD soviet secret police, to the poor soldiers from both sides who had to endure death and violence on a level rarely ever seen before or since.

Without denigrating the sacrifices of the soldiers from the Allied forces, when 8/10 German wartime casualties were due to the Soviet Union, it kind of puts WWII in a different perspective, or rather shows how much more the Soviet Union had to sacrifice in military personnel and civilians to help win WWII, mostly without help.

If there is any downside to the book its probably the maps. If the book was ever reprinted, better and clearer maps would help in order to follow the various units and divisions that eventually capture your imagination, but the writing far outweighs this small fault.

To end this review, I would say that as reading through it it became clear why some many politicians had read it. While war is sometimes necessary and sometime unfortunately unavoidable, it can be conducted which maintains a measure if not of humanity then at least some concern of the lives of the men sent to fight for their country.

The meatgrinder, there is really no other description I can give of Stalingrad, stands as a warning to those who would engage in war and how not to do it.

Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2011
This is my first significant read of the conflict that decided the second world war. It not only deals in some detail with Stalingrad, but also events that led up to it, and it also describes the conception and planning of the German invasion of Russia. While it deals with the more obvious military strategies and tactics, much of that detail is here with some useful maps included, it is the 'human' angle in which it excels. Beevor describes the fatal mistakes in Hitler's increasingly bewildering decision making, and also Stalin's absolute misjudgement of the situation prior the invasion - he refused to believe it was happening, despite every indication to the contrary, it is these description that give the reader some insight into the psychologies of two totalitarian regimes and their dictators. In addition to this we are informed of the privations suffered by the men who fought and their pitiless barbarity of this 'Total War'. W

hen one has read this book one truly understands what total war is, a war of destruction. The suffering of the civilian population and of the fighting men on both sides is hard to believe, yet despite endless atrocities, the courage of these men on both sides has to be admired, especially under the very worst of conditions. This is a book about Stalingrad, often described as the turning point of the entire war, but it is so much more than that, it is a window into the most significant campaign of the most significant event of the 20th Century. It's importance in incalculable.

General Chuikov (defender of Stalingrad) - He informed his staff, 'there is only one way to hold the city, we must pay in lives, time is blood!'

And that was literally self-evident, men and wowen were simply thrown into the city to die without any conscience or consideration from the Soviet state - to buy time with blood. Similarly the German 6th Army was left to starve and die when it could have been withdrawn in plenty of time to regroup - but it wasn't, all to serve the insane whims of one man - Adolf Hitler.

I am certain that once you have read 'Stalingrad' that it will not be your last read on the War in the East.

Highly recommended. I'm off now to Read Alan Clark's (yes THAT Alan Clark) well respected epic 'Barbarossa'.

Barbarossa: The Russian German Conflict: The Russian German Conflict, 1941-45 (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2000
Young boys have for hundreds of years played at war and will no doubt continue for years to come. It is a sad fact that war as a game is fun and exciting. How many of the thousands of young German soldiers that marched on Stalingrad with this attitude one can only wonder.If the film Saving private Ryan is an education for young eyes as to the brutality of war, and without doubt it is, then this book is a stark education for our young minds. There are countless books on this subject and depending on the author and his/her national perspective it can seem that there were equally numerous battles for this city.What this book sets out to do is to show that the men who fought this war both Russian and German were victims.Victims caught between the minds of two men one a maniac and Stalin who would do anything to retain his grip on power. Beevor leads the reader through this filthy battle and strips it of all Hollywood. He manages to adopt a narative style which holds the attention but explains the history in a refreshingly easy format.As you assume that things can't possibly get worse for the fighting men up steps another idiot General and makes sure that it does. One is reminded of the Great War saying "Lions lead by Donkeys".Amid all the horror comes humour..The bogas notices put up by German soldiers and in particular the fact that a whole section of Panzers were left high and dry because mice got in and chewed the electrics! Russian trained mice no doubt.Millions died in this battle for one city. Beevor brings them back to us for a short time many of them not much older than our sixth form students. Let them read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2001
A wonderful book, but let down a little by a chronic shortage of maps. Each new offensive should have been illustrated with a map as the technical maneouvering is very complicated. I suggest that future reprints should defer more to readers by including maps with each new chapter. Otherwise, a well-written, engrossing read.
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