on 12 August 2010
This book covers the fighting on the Eastern Front in 1941. It contains a fair amount of detail on the preparations for war and explains how, in spite of a series of terrible defeats in the summer and autumn of that year, the Russians were able to throw back the Germans from the outskirts of Moscow in the winter.
The book was a fascinating read and I learned a lot I never knew before. On the down side some of the maps were a bit difficult to understand (they seem to be reproductions of German battle maps of the time), and although the book explains things clearly from the Russian side, there is less explanation of what was happening in the German armies and at the German General Headquarters.
Another criticism is that the book stops just as the Russian counter-offensive of December 1941 was gathering pace. I know the title of the book is Barbarossa, but another chapter to explain what happened over the next few weeks - say into February 1942 - would have been good.
on 12 October 2008
I'm very interested in military history, and have read dozens of books on the subject. Very seldom have I stopped reading a book halfway because it was dull, but this became one of those occassions. All the details are there, and that's what's wrong with the book. Try this for size (quote typical for the book):
"While Timoshenko was conducting his 'Offensive', Lieutenant-General M.G. Efremov's 21st Army unleashed heavy attacks against the German Second Army's XXXXIII and LIII Army Corps, whose forward elements had reached the Dnepr river at Rogachev and Zholbin. He also orchestrated an attack northward toward Bykov on the Dnepr jointly with Korobko's 4th Army. Attacking on 13 July, Komkor [Corps commander] L.G. Petrovky's 63rd Rifle Corps drove German forces westward from Rogachev and Zholbin, while Colonel F.F. Zhmachenko's 67th Rifle Corps, reinforced by Major-General S.M. Krivoshein's 25th Mechanized Corps, launched futile attacks against Guderian's southern flank."
It was enough to bore me to tears. While it might be great as a reference, it isn't for the general reader on the subject. For a more rewarding book, check Robert Kershaw's "War Without Garlands", which has a much more flowing narrative, interspersed by quotes from interviews and soldiers' letters to give a better idea of what it was like on the eastern Front. "Barbarossa" is for those interested in grand strategy and operations, and who don't want their books contaminated with human interest.