Top positive review
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Thought provoking, but...
on 27 June 2012
I've just finished reading John Mosiers book Deathride. It's left me wanting to check and recheck a lot of facts. I consider this to be a good thing, quite an achievement. However, the book doesn't stand up to most of the checks I've done. So why four stars?
Well, it's the way in which the book toys with your mind. It reminded me of Brian Fugate's Thunder on the Dnepr (that did the same as this book, only for the other side). In Deathride Mr. Mosier takes you along in a certain way of thinking that's very interesting. He poses that Hitler made only sensible decisions in the war in the east, and that Stalin made only errors and camouflaged these errors by falsifying historical accounts and statistical data. The picture of what strategy Hitler was following the bring Stalin to his knees is very interesting and thought provoking, because somehow with this strategy Hitler's action make a bit of sense. Also the image that's given of Stalin is food for thought. The way Stalin acted resulted in large numbers of equipment being produced, but of very poor quality and without the means to support that equipment in the field. This also makes sense.
However, the book heavily leans on a number of theories, that are more or less posed as true. But although the book is packed with notes, I hardly ever found a note supporting these key theories. The notes are almost always about facts I already knew. I would have liked to see factual notes back up the theories. One very important one is about Soviet casualties. Mr Mosier lists Soviet monthly casualties (to compare them with German losses), but doesn't back them up with notes. I have tried very hard to verify them, but found that WW 2 Soviet casualty figures are hard to find, and when you do find them they are disputed. So where do Mr Mosiers figures come from?
So this is the main problem with the book. Eventhough it made me think about where the Germans were in the war in 1943, I don't think this title gives the true picture. What it may do instead though, is give the picture as Hitler saw it (that is, the German part, for I doubt he'll have had any idea of what is mentioned about Stalin).
This is also true about the Soviet side. Mr Mosier poses that winning WW2 actually meant the Soviet Union as a state was doomed to lose. The way in which he describes this theory is very interesting, but the important arguments are not backed by notes, as I would have liked to see.
A second problem is that Hitler is never criticised in the book, Germany did lose the war and Germany certainly made mistakes. I missed the careful analyses of this process in the book.
So, to sum it up: the book poses a very interesting theory about how Hitler perceived his situation in 1942 and 1943. This is something that may be of interest to eastern front buffs. But because the lack of notes on the important parts of the theory, I feel the book lacks credibility. Therefor, as another reviewer already mentioned, it would be wise not to make this the only book you read abour the Russo-German war of 1941-1945. When you do approach this title like that you'll find it certainly has a number of interesting ideas to offer and this will make you think. If you're anything like me you'll like the challenge, and go and reread some other titles, or research some more data. That for me is a big befenit of reading this book.