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on 6 October 2013
Operation Barbarossa has many strengths to offer over its 200 plus pages. However, for the many strengths it does have there are a few weaknesses as well. After reading this book I was quite pleased with the historical data presented, it is thorough and well laid out. I also enjoyed the writing as it was easy to read and at times felt a little bit like a novel. However, the book lacks a proper linear presentation. In most stories, whether fiction or nonfiction, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Here in Operation Barbarossa the beginning is backed up by facts that happened years later, and events that happened near the end are mixed with events that happen in the middle. For me, I read the book with some difficulty because events were laid out as if the author needed to prove the validity of events by other events that happened later on. This telling takes away from enjoyment of learning what happened as it happened, and made the book more of an argument for the author's purpose for writing it.

Over all the book is a good historical retelling, but in the end I didn't experience the war, but rather was educated about it. Perhaps I would have rather been talked to rather than talked at.

*I received this book in ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If it was the unbending 'iron will' of Hitler that cost Germany the war, and that chiefly in the ever-worsening disaster zone of the Russian theatre, then, despite the almost unimaginable cataclysms suffered by Russia and her peoples - some of which continued to be inflicted by Russia upon herself (in the form of Stalin: there's no black and white contrast here, by any means, Hartmann describing both Nazi atrocities and 'the other side of the coin: Soviet war crimes') - it was the concomitant loosening, albeit not that great a relaxing, of Russian doctrine that helped the latter triumph. And of course the extreme terrain, weather, and seemingly inexhaustible - and profligately expended - human and material resources.

Hartmann's succinct account of this gargantuan conflict, surprisingly wide in its scope for such a small book, covers all of this, and much more. But it does suffer an unavoidable lack of detail that any text of this size (166pp) simply can't avoid, and in addressing the wider roots, politics, and consequences, Hartmann also sacrifices space that the military buff might like to have seen expended on more campaign and combat detail. Personally I don't mind this at all, as I'm planning to get more of the military detail side of things from Alan Clarke's Barbarossa (which I started reading just before I got this).

Hartmann alternates quick studies of the broad political picture, taking each side in turn, with brief accounts of the fighting itself. The small number of black and white pictures are well chosen, and the info-saturated maps are better than average. Surprisingly, for such a small book, it's the breadth of coverage, and some interesting small details - such as composer Dmitri Shostakovich's observation that, despite the great traumas of the conflict, it did nevertheless bring Russian feelings into the open - that help make it worth reading.

Hartmann covers a comprehensive range of areas, including those aspects of this theatre connected with war crimes, examining the roles or fates of the various protagonists, from the hapless civilians, through partisans, to security and political forces, such as the SS and Commissars, and the troops, generals, and leaders of either side themselves. Regarding the latter, Hitler and Stalin both beggar belief, the rampant paranoid egotism of their rule proving as toxic to their own peoples as their avowed enemies. Hitler's status as European bogeyman #1 remains paramount, but evidence that Stalin ought to share that position is on display here.

The Eastern front, from Poland eastwards, and then Stalingrad westwards, was the crucible of Hitler's atavistic and racist search for 'lebensraum', as well as the attempted fulfilment of his 'prophecies', from Mein Kampf to his bilious speeches at party political rallies. And in what must be one of histories bloodiest ironies - the statistics are incomprehensibly mind-numbing, particularly on the Russian side - two key consequences of Hitler's 'völkisch' Aryan crusade were the 'Bolshevik' occupation of Eastern Europe - and that right into the heart of Germany itself (before, during, and after Russia's struggle with the Nazi beast, Stalin was busily 'liquidating' his own people; Hitler only enlarged Stalin's reach!) - and the establishment of Israel in Palestine.

A good, broad, solid, and very short introduction to what is a massive topic, I'd recommend this more as a starting point for those less familiar with the campaign than to those obsessed by it. Although even then it might surprise with a new nugget here and there, as German accounts in English are still relatively rare, and some of Hartmann's sources may have eluded English language authors.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a post-graduate student who studied Russian history for most of his undergraduate degree, I was immediately drawn to this book, as it focused on three of my favourites sections/parts of history: the Second World War, and the Nazi and Soviet regimes from 1941 to 1945, as well as the fact that it was quite short.

The text as a whole is a useful introduction to a quite complex and detailed topic - it considers the years building up to Barbarossa (the political aspects as well as the military aspects) and is quite interesting in its contrasting of Nazi/Stalinist ideology, policy and strategy. The war itself is the main focus of the book, and goes into a decent amount of detail regarding the actual Nazi invasion, as well as the Soviet fight-back. Rather neatly, the book also covers the state of Soviet society and Soviet land immediately prior to the invasion - something that is often overlooked by some historians.

Whilst I do not think it is possible to truly cover this topic in 166 pages, the author has provided us with a good source of information, which would be a useful tool for students to refer to for a good, reliable source of subject knowledge. Whether or not it adds anything in terms of theory is another matter.

The author himself works as a 'historian at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, and is Senior Lecturer at the Staff College of the German Armed Forces in Hamburg. A board member of the German Committee for the History of the Second World War, he is also a historical adviser to the History Channel in Germany.' As a source of information then, Hartmann's book is very good (most OUP books are quite reliable), however, it is by no means a comprehensive outline of Operation Barbarossa (though as I've said, it would be useful to students seeking a quick read for subject knowledge and context, as well as the average person looking for some information about the invasion).

However, theoretically, it does not really add anything new, but what do you expect in a book that is only 166 pages? A good read, an excellent source of information (subject knowledge and context) for undergrad students/people interested in the Second World War/Soviet/Nazi military history, but for a more complete view on Barbarossa, you might want to look at other books. That is not to say that this book isn't useful; on the contrary, it is quite unusual to come across a German perspective on Operation Barbarossa. I would recommend it as a general introductory text, but certainly not as a KEY text. It doesn't claim to be a theoretical text and as such shouldn't be criticised because of that; it is still a useful text.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My first impression when I first saw this book was not very positive - it is not very big - 166 pages of text plus another 20 or so of notes, further reading and indexes. It is a hardback and measures about 8 inches tall by 5 and a 1/2 wide. A pocket hardback? Full retail is £16.99 but is less on Amazon. Having said all that the book does pack a punch, not a spare or excess word and a master class in it's given subject.

It's given subject is Nazi Germany's war with the Soviet Union, 1941 - 1945, the brutal, bloody, no holds barred confrontation between the world's two competing ideologies - fascism and the Stalinist Soviet Union. This was a war of choice not necessity for the Third Reich, they wanted it, the Russians didn't but probably realised it was inevitable sooner or later.

I have been reading about WW2 for the last fifty plus years but I must admit that this is the first book on the subject I have ever read that is written by a German historian rather than British or American and I am impressed. Mr Hartman's text is concise, tight, compact and seems to lose nothing in translation. Mr Hartman starts off by asking how do we explain how and why this invasion ever took place in the first place. That question is answered with one of the best (albeit brief) explanations of Hitler's Nazi ideology and strategy I have ever read. Important also to understand that without the obedience and enthusiastic support of many other Germans from all walks of life, this evil, racist philosophy would not have got off the ground. The authors insight into this period of history in the first chapter I found more enlightening than many other 'explanations' I have read over the years.

Hartman draws upon the latest research and witness accounts to paint a fairly detailed picture of this horrific conflict which was more than just a 'war' - it was a fight for basic survival for both sides and especially for the Soviets was looked upon (and still is) as a crusade. 28 million Soviets and nearly five million Germans troops and their allies lost their lives. Man's inhumanity to man reached hideous heights especially in Kiev, Leningrad and Stalingrad - not that the Red Army's 1945 occupation of Berlin was any better.

The amount of detail packed into this somewhat small volume does make me forgive publishers Oxford University Press a little, trouble is having read this somewhat brief account, good as it is, makes me think what might have been if Mr Hartman and OUP had got together to produce a much larger and even more detailed version. Useful for serious students of WW2 or the casual reader like myself. Would fit well with Richard Overy's "Russia's War", an excellent, single volume history of what it was like to be at the receiving end of Operation Barbarosa until the Soviets managed to turn the tide.
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Much of what has been written about the war on the eastern front has come from an allied perspective, so this, from an admittedly modern, German perspective is "refreshing", if that is the appropriate term. The book itself is deceptively small and slim, but the information packed in belies its size. An excellent read, and an excellent reference for those with an interest in this conflict.
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VINE VOICEon 3 October 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
History, they say, is written by the victors. And so it has proved - at least in my occasional foray into the realms of history books. So reading this slim volume on the Nazi invasion of the USSR is my first experience of historical writing from a German perspective. Now there is no way you can describe this as being a book that seeks in any way to justify the German (or Soviet) actions over this barbaric period. It is a cogently presented exploration of the themes and incidents of this brutal conflict.

It is very easy to include huge amounts of detail in war histories - here we get much more of an overview and the reading experience is better for it.

I found it a fascinating read - only slightly marred by some occasional translation infelicities.

Certainly worth considering if you have even a passing interest in WWII history.
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on 21 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an effective and powerful little book that captures the essence of the defining clash of totalitarianisms that wrought such havoc in the core of the 20th century. Whilst it would be churlish to criticise this book too heavily for not being a massively comprehensive account, as a first step in engaging with the totality of the Nazi Soviet clash that defined the Second World War, it is an excellent starting point. Without wishing to be unpleasant, one of its defining functions is to finally usurp the position of Alan Clark's Barbarossa, which for too long has been a false start for a study of the campaign for the casual reader, when its engagement with German and Russian sources is strictly limited. The next step to an accessible overview of the conflict would be to look at Robert Kershaw's War without Garlands, before progressing to John Erikson's Road to Stalingrad and Road to Berlin. There is lots to praise in this account such as the candid, authoritative and highly troubling chapter on German war crimes and atrocities-especially moving, when it is the work of such a respected German academic author. It's a pity that there wasn't a comparable chapter on and analysis of the Soviet method of war and its implications for casualties. There is an awful lot packed into this account of 166 pages, but given the size of the topic it's hardly surprising that this reader was left with an undeniable feeling of wanting more.
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an interesting history of the Nazis campaign in the East between 1941 and 1945. The author is a well respected and popular modern German historian, which gives the history a view from the German perspective.

The book covers the Barbarossa campaign itself, but also gives the information in the context of what was happening in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany in the years before and after the campaign.

The book is not huge in scale as can often be the case in books of this kind and it clocks in at a mere 166 pages plus an additional 18 or so pages or index and references.
This means the book can be read in its entirety quite easily and can be used as an introduction to this topic rather than the last word in detail.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 September 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Since Alan Clark's Barbarossa: The Russian German Conflict: The Russian German Conflict, 1941-45 (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) was first published in 1965 there has been a plethora of books on that vast subject, although for me Clark's achievement is unmatched.

Some authors have restricted the scope of their Barbarossa works to specific periods of it, a good example being War without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942. In the book under review, the prolific Christian Hartmann attempts to deal with the whole timeframe in remarkably few pages, just 172 if the bibliography and index are discounted. It is effectively a summary, and I'm not at all sure what its target readership is. For the student of military history it lacks detail of what were usually very complex operations, Operation Citadel (Kursk) for example is dealt with in two paragraphs. It could be said that there is nothing new to be said about such battles, that there can only be opinions given. To the extent that is true, it brings into question if there is any point to this book unless the author had unearthed startling new evidence concerning the thinking of the dictators Hitler and Stalin.

I found Operation Barbarossa: Nazi Germany's War in the East a disappointment, and I feel that Hartmann has added nothing to the field of Barbarossa study with this slim volume.
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VINE VOICEon 26 September 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
well, to be honest its another book about the war on teh eastern front. However its a small one, but only in size. THis is a very accessible volume which in all honesty covers pretty much all the important aspects involved, which I thought wouldnt get mentioned when I looked at its size. If I had to recomend one volume for someone to get a tatste of teh conflict without delving into teh evidence I would recomend it, but not to someone who has already a grounding in it. If I wanted to teach someone and wanted a way to cut down the information to a concise format I couldnt go too far wrong with this, however granted there are a few things I dont totally agree with but thats research for you.

All in all if someone wanted somewhere to start with this massive field of history with its thousands of books written on it I would recomend it. But IF you are reading Glantz etc Then you might want it for quick stats but its not going to tell you anything you dont already know.

p.s if you havent read anything on teh subject in a decade or so it would probably serve as a good refresher
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