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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In-depth Account of German Operations, 23 Sep 2012
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I don't think much an be added to the previous excellent review of this book. I'd just like to add that "Crucible of Combat" is a book well worth reading if you have an interest or passion for accounts covering the Eastern Front during WW2. In this book the author covers the period following the failed German offensive at Kursk in 1943. The books main focus is on German operations in the Ukraine as the German armed forces were steadily forced back by numerous and continuous Soviet offensives. The major battles are all covered in some detail along with many smaller unknown operations and battles, from the evacuation of the Crimean Peninsula in late 1943 to the fighting retreat of the German 1st Army in the `Hube Kessel'.

Some of the issues I found with this book are the sometimes `clunky' translation from the original German text and the bad or non-existent editing which failed to pick up misspelt words or incorrectly used words (eg: attack instead of attached). However if you can persevere with these occasional annoyances you will find a treasure trove of great information covering the fighting on the Eastern Front during this period. There are over 100 maps throughout the book and although initially hard to read (original German maps) you get use to them and the author indicates during the narrative which maps are relevant to the text. There are also a number of black & white images and Orders of Battle at the back of the book.

Overall a decent and in-depth account of German defensive operations during late 1943 to early/mid 1944 in the Ukraine. Be warned, the book is not easy to read, nor does it offer a free-flowing narrative account. At times it can be a frustrating book due to those issues mentioned above but if stick with it I am sure most people who enjoy reading about the Eastern Front with come away with a new found appreciation of the massive combat operations in this sector of the Russian Front during WW2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book about Eastern Front 1943-1944, 3 May 2013
By 
David I. Walker (Galashiels) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Crucible of Combat. Germany's Defensive Battles In The Ukraine 1943-44 (Paperback)
This book is highly recommended and as you can see , several others have written a lot about the book
I can add that the praise is indeed merited ( my 1st edition paperback copy arrived 2 May 2013 ) and the book is well
written and highly detailed , one little thing of note is the Helion publishers have decided
( despite what their website claimed would be the book size )
to print this book in a larger size than TO THE BITTER END ,
so you if you compare them side by side Crucible of Combat is 160mm by 235mm , TO THE BITTER END measures 153mm by 230mm
This doesn't sound much but the larger one doesn't sit easily alongside the other paperback book , as its so much bigger
anyway the book is full of maps and great photos of the German commanders
( some of them I have never seen before in a photo )
# PS I would have loved a brief summary giving information about the author Rolf Hinze , who is now sadly dead
however he has wrote a great book that will add to his reputation as a military author , in the English Language
so many thanks Helion for Publishing the trilogy of these books for us to read .
I know I will treasure this book .
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The German retreat from the Ukraine from a German perspective, 29 May 2011
By 
Dave History Student - See all my reviews
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If you've read "East Front Drama - 1944" or "To the Bitter End" then you'll have a good understanding of what you'll face with Mr Hinze's latest book. Mr Steinhardt, the translator, decided to retain the German spelling of many names which was a little difficult. It has the same tactical and strategic style of coverage with additional background information and analysis as his two other books. However, this is clearly the author's best, most comprehensive book. There are no first hand experiences shared with the reader but the author does try to express the hardships that the German commanders were experiencing in coping with a losing campaign. The author clearly tries to show the Soviet superiority of men and equipment and how well the Germans performed against such odds. There are many situation reports where the author explains the importance of the current circumstance and some of the reasons why events unfolded the way they did.

The coverage starts in the last quarter of 1943, after the Germans were stopped at Kursk and Kharkov was liberated and the Germans had been pushed back to the Dniepr River. The Germans may have had a few tactical counterattacks during this whole period but were unable to generate enough forces to launch major offensives like they did up to Operation Citadel. A third of the book covers the many engagements of the Soviets attempting to penetrate the Dniepr between Kiev and the Black Sea and the subsequent battles for the key communication and depot junction of Krivoi Rog and Kirovograd to the northwest. Some of the key battles for cities on or near the river are Kiev, Cherkassy, Zaporozhye, Dnepropetrovsk, Kremenchung, Nikopol, Chersson. The evacuation of the Kuban bridgehead and the futile battle of 17th Army for the Crimea and its eventual evacuation in April 1944 is also discussed.
Before reaching Rumania, the Korsun Pocket and the German breakout is covered. The Soviets finally reach the Dniestr River and the coverage continues with the battles to cross the river and enter Rumania where the coverage picks up with Konev trying to clear the 8th and 6th Armies in the Targul Frumos-Jassy area while Tolbukhin aims for Kishinev.
Other sites of battle coverage include Korosten, Zhitomir, Berdichev, Tarnopol, Rovno, Dubno, Brody, Mogilev-Podolsk, Proskurov, Shepetovka and Vinnitsa. The 17th Army in the Crimea is also covered.

The battle coverage on the German side is very good, five star quality, giving many details of which units were involved, the action taken, results and any other background information the author thought relevant but on the Soviet side its most generic. I counted less than a few dozen instances when a specific Soviet force was identified. It was always the "The Soviets ...". That's the main reason for only four stars. You're receiving only half the "picture" and the book shouldn't be rewarded as a comparable David Glantz book that gives extensive info on both sides.

The author has provided 105 maps; almost all of them are full page while a few are double page. The maps are well populated with towns and cities, rail lines, key rivers. There is also German dispositions but no Soviet forces. For the Soviet side, you get arrows of advance. The maps are comparable to his earlier books. They're good but the reader will have to invest time and effort in digesting and understanding them. Having your favorite atlas next to you will help the process of discovery and translation. A new feature added to this book that his previous books don't have are frequent footnotes that point to maps that cover what the dialog is covering. It was a nice touch as well as helpful; you could flip to the proper map, knowing you had the right map. Once you become familiar with these maps, they will help when you're reading other books.

There is a photo gallery that includes good portraits of Manstein, Model, Kleist, Schorner, Wohler, Hube, Raus, Hollidt, Jaenecke. There are also pictures of soldiers on the ground and other battlefield scenes. There is a Bibliography of German sources, a glossary and a detailed series of Order of Battles(German only) to add to your reading experience. An Index is missing which makes research very difficult. With all the info packed inside this book, trying to find something could take a long time.

While the coverage of the Dniestr River / Rumania campaign is good, David Glantz's "Red Storm over the Balkans" with his tactical, strategic coverage of the forcing the Dniestr River at Orgeev, Dubossary, Grigoriopol, Tashlyk and Tiraspol by the 3rd UF and the attempted capture of the Targul Frumos - Jassy sector by 2nd UF is superior to Mr Hinze's book. On the other hand Mr Hinze covers the action west of the Bug River, north of Dubossary that Mr Glantz doesn't.
I'm still happy with the book for the good coverage of the forcing of the Dniepr River, capture of Krivoi Rog, Kirovograd and finally the liberation of the Crimea, fills in an important aspect that has been missing from my education of the war.
If you don't have David Glantz's "Red Storm over the Balkans" or Douglas Nash's "Hell's Gate" and can accept the generic Soviet coverage then this book will be very helpful in explaining how the Soviets expelled the Germans from southern Russia. Or if you wanted to learn more of the Dniepr River defense this would be an excellent source. Even with my criticism, I consider this a must read book for the wealth of information presented on the German side. This book is ideal for students looking for operational coverage and analysis of an important time and sector that leads to the final year of the war and is highly recommended for that audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want detail .., 16 May 2014
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This review is from: Crucible of Combat. Germany's Defensive Battles In The Ukraine 1943-44 (Paperback)
This is a superb account of the bitter fighting in eastern Europe. It is illustrated with contemporary war maps. It is not an easy read as one has to refer to maps to see what is going on but this is its strength. One for the serious war 'buff'.
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