on 10 June 2012
This book is divided into two sections. The first part which takes up nearly two thirds of the book begins in mid October and lasts until mid November when Marshall Zhukov launches his Operation Uranus. After a brief first chapter of section two covering the quick entrapment of 6th Army within the Stalingrad sector, the rest of the book describes the conditions the trapped men endured as they desperately wait for the relief column to free them and of course the difficulties that Manstein with his meager resources faces in defending the Chir River line while Hoth fights his way north toward Stalingrad.
The author was able to put together an interesting package though less demanding than hoped for of the tactical summary which is carefully blended with many examples of personal hardships and heroics of German soldiers as well as an abundance of good photos to tie everything together. The photo gallery is a combination of personal photos of the people discussed as well as providing scenes of the death and destruction within the city. The gallery which included some aerials was well done but some of the photos have lost their clarity.
The broad strokes deliver the tactical history to provide the reader an overall image and scale to the battle but the presentation of all the soldier's experiences within this massive environment of death and destruction is what the authors enjoys delivering and hopes will make the biggest impression on the reader.
The story is driven by the German advance on the northern factories and the German perspective dominates but the author also includes Russian daily action reports to help balance the story of how both sides saw the progress of the battle. Mr Wijers weaves this story together from primary documents like war diaries of different divisions, personal diaries and personal interviews.
I believe this story will appeal to the causal or new reader of the Stalingrad conflict or those who are looking to read the human side of war while more experienced readers who have already read David Glantz's "Armageddon in Stalingrad" will immediately see the sparseness and lack of depth of the battle history for control of the three main factories. On the other hand, "Winter Storm" with its human interest side will supplement the bigger tome in that department.
Mr Wijers also supplies a few maps, a bibliography and an index but an appendix of facts or notes are absent.
Though expecting a probable wide divergence of ratings, I gave this story four stars for the author did a good job of covering the battle within the limits he imposed on himself and if you're not expecting an exhaustive tactical rendition then you'll probably will like it as well.
Let me suggest further reading if you enjoyed this book. Dana Sadarananda has written a nice summary of the events after the pocketing of 6th Army that covers Manstein's attempts to save Army Group Don from complete destruction. This book has more tactical information and less human interest.
on 15 January 2013
A book filled with rare first hand German accounts of the battle along with excellent photographs.
Gives a glimpse of what it was like to be there on the ground with a different perspective compared to the endless unit numbers, movements and outcomes type of military history.
Would also recommend:
Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross
Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front
Twilight of the Gods: A Swedish Waffen-SS Volunteer's Experiences
and above all - Hitler's war on Russia by Paul Carell - (if you can find one!)