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Christmas at Stalingrad (Pocket Penguins) Paperback – 6 May 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 255 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (6 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141022256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141022253
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.8 x 17.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,187,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Hitler made two fundamental and crippling mistakes during the Second World War. The first was his whimsical belief that the United Kingdom would eventually become his ally, which delayed his decision to launch a major invasion of Britain, whose army was unprepared for the force of blitzkrieg warfare. The second was the ill-conceived Operation Barbarossa--an invasion of Russia that was supposed to take the German army to the gates of Moscow. Antony Beevor's thoughtfully researched compendium recalls this epic struggle for Stalingrad. No-one, least of all the Germans, could foretell the deep well of Soviet resolve that would become the foundation of the Red Army; Russia, the Germans believed, would fall as swiftly as France and Poland. The ill-prepared Nazi forces were trapped in a bloody war of attrition against the Russian behemoth, which held them in the pit of Stalingrad for nearly two years. Beevor points out that the Russians were by no means ready for the war either, making their stand even more remarkable; Soviet intelligence spent as much time spying on its own forces--in fear of desertion, treachery and incompetence--as they did on the Nazis. Due attention is also given to the points of view of the soldiers and generals of both forces, from the sickening battles to life in the gulags.

Many believe Stalingrad to be the turning point of the war. The Nazi war machine proved to be fallible as it spread itself too thin for a cause that was born more from arrogance than practicality. The Germans never recovered, and its weakened defences were no match for the Allied invasion of 1944. We know little of what took place in Stalingrad or its overall significance, leading Beevor to humbly admit that "[t]he Battle of Stalingrad remains such an ideologically charged and symbolically important subject that the last word will not be heard for many years". This is true. But this gripping account should become the standard work against which all others should measure themselves. --Jeremy Storey --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

A superb re-telling. Beevor combines a soldier's understanding of war's realities with the narrative techniques of a novelist . . . This is a book that lets the reader look into the face of battle (Orlando Figes Sunday Telegraph)

A brilliantly researched tour de force of military history (Sarah Bradford The Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Stalingrad is a superb book. Before reading it I had no knowledge of the eastern front, but Antony Beevor's account has compelled me to find out more. The book not only provides a full account of the battle, but an overview of Operation Barbarossa and the strategy in southern Russia. The books main triumph lies in its ability to relate the story from both the German and Russian perspectives of the battle, from an ordinary soldier's point of view as well as the Generals and of course Stalin and Hitler. The author's use of different sources is unbelievable, although I think it could have done with a few more personal accounts - but this is a very minor gripe. With violence portrayed on TV so much, you might think we have been made unshockable (if thats a word) towards war stories, but I definately felt sickened by what I read in this book, especially towards the end with the subjugation of the Sixth Army. It may be that the Stalingrad story is just so unbelievable that it makes this book stand out, but Beevor is as competent an author as any in helping the reader truly understand. Stalingrad is the definitve account of the most momentous event of W.W.2.
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Format: Paperback
Beevor has succeeded in weaving a compelling, thoroughly researched piece of work documenting one of the darkest periods in modern history. The enormity of catastrophe that befalls first the Soviet citizen and Red Army following Germany's invasion, right through to the encirclement and starvation of the German Sixth Army, are described in a riveting (and sobering) detail. The earlier chapters of the book deal with the events that lead to the battle of Stalingrad, although obviously in much less detail than the battle itself (or else the book would span volumes). Where the book really shines, is it's readability - Beevor has the rare qualities of being both an expert historian and a storyteller at the height of his powers. He skilfully interweaves political events, battles, enormous acts of cruelty, military incompetence and personal suffering with staggering acts of heroism and self sacrifice. One of the best books I have ever read - and one that highlights why worlds should be moved to prevent war.
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Format: Paperback
This book is probably one of the best I've read about WWII and one of the most accessible. It brings to life the futility of war and the insanity of both Hitler and Stalin. In these pages - their disregard for the lives of their soldiers is brought brilliantly to life. I didn't want to put the book down!
Operation Barbarossa proved to be one of the key turning points of World War II. This book provides the perspective to understand so much of what happened and why. Hitlers inability to trust his generals and their lack of courage in acting against him becomes clear through the actions of the high command at Stalingrad. Through Anthony Beevors descriptions of the sacrifice of the Sixth Army you find yourself asking the question - what would have happened if the British army at Dunkirk had received similar suicidal orders ?
The stories of horror and courage at Stalingrad are numerous but the book never descends into cheap emotion and always maintains it's objectivity. It helps you understand the military and political machinations during the battle - empathising without being partisan.
It's stunning to learn the level of callousness displayed by both Stalin and the German army towards ordinary Russian soldiers during and after the campaign. The bravery of all the ordinary participants but espeically the average Russian soldiers and civillians cries out to you. This book astounded me with the portrayal of the human capacity to overcome adversity - it inspired me and made me cry. It'll help you understand not only Stalingrad but also beyond. It gave me an insight into both the Russian people during WWII and the events during the Russian advance through Germany. Read it!
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Format: Paperback
This big, thick tome was a bestseller when it came out, and it's not hard to see why - it's a gripping, well-written account of probably the grimmest, bleakest battle of the Second World War. Although the battle ended with the German army suffering a terrible loss, the book wisely generates no sense of triumph - both Russian and German armies endured enormous casualties, whilst the city of Stalingrad itself was transformed into a wasteland. Even those lucky enough to survive the battle were either marched to death in brutal captivity, or thrown straight at the German lines.
Particularly interesting is Beevor's research into the Russian army's ruthless intelligence service (which gave the soldiers a stark choice between possible death in combat, or certain death by firing squad), and the great rate of desertion, a state of affairs which resulted in Germans being press-ganged into Russian service, and Russian deserters fighting for the Germans.
All in all, this is a superb book. Whilst other reviews mention the near-contemporary 'Enemy at the Gates', it's also worth mentioning a german film called 'Stalingrad' which was released in the early-90s, and was apparently much better.
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Format: Paperback
I have read and re-read this book because of its brilliance. It is chilling but very very accessible. The humanity and inhumanity is so well written that it appears almost to be a work of fiction. You do not need to be an avid war historian to enjoy this book as I found most of the interesting parts to be on the day to day life in the kessel and the slow ebbing away of all hope that the 6th army would be saved. The letters home are particularly sad, many were found in a mail sack of a plane that was shot down by the Russians.

This book should be used in schools to highlight the desperation and reality of war.
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