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The Rzhev Slaughterhouse. The Red Army's Forgotten 15-month Campaign against Army Group Center, 1942-1943. Hardcover – Illustrated, 15 Aug 2013

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Helion & Company (15 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908916516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908916518
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


...this is an outstanding piece of historical research worthy of any library or collection. It provides valuable insight into the Soviet war leadership and operational execution. Her work is very balanced and insightful. The Rzhev campaign was a slaughter in every sense of the word. Survivors from both sides recalled the fighting years later as the worst they had experienced at any time throughout the war. --Sabretache Journal

As Gerasimova observes, recent work on the Russo-German War of 1941-45 is rewriting the Soviet version of the war. Her work certainly makes a major contribution to this ongoing effort. --The Russian Review

A testament to one of the most forgotten of battles of the eastern front in the Second World War. --War in History

About the Author

Svetlana Aleksandrovna Gerasimova is a historian and museum official. After graduating from Leningrad State University with a history degree, she worked in the Urals as a middle school history teacher, before moving to Tver, where she taught a number of courses in history and local history, and about museum work and leading excursions in the Tver' School of Culture. She earned her Ph.D. in history from Tver State University in 2002. For more than 20 years, S.A. Gerasimova has been working in the Tver' State Consolidated Museum, and is the creator and co-creator of a many displays and exhibits in the branches of the Museum, and in municipal and institutional museums of the Tver' Oblast. Recent museum exhibits that she has created include "The Battle of Rzhev 1942-1943" and "The Fatal Forties … Toropets District in the Years of the Great Patriotic War." She has led approximately 20 historical and folklore-ethnographic expeditions in the area of Tver' Oblast and is the author of numerous articles in such journals as Voprosy istorii [Questions of History], Voenno-istoricheskii arkhiv [Military History Archive], Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal [Journal of Military History] and Zhivaia starina [The Living Past], and of other publications. In 2009, she served as a featured consultant to a Russian NTV television documentary about the Battle of Rzhev, which quickly became controversial for its very frank discussion of the campaign. Stuart Britton is a freelance translator and editor residing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has been responsible for making a growing number of Russian titles available to readers of the English language, consisting primarily of memoirs by Red Army veterans and recent historical research concerning the Eastern Front of the Second World War and Soviet air operations in the Korean War. Notable recent titles include Valeriy Zamulin's award-winning 'Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrative ' (Helion, 2011), Boris Gorbachevsky's 'Through the Maelstrom: A Red Army Soldier's War on the Eastern Front 1942-45' (University Press of Kansas, 2008) and Yuri Sutiagin's and Igor Seidov's 'MiG Menace Over Korea: The Story of Soviet Fighter Ace Nikolai Sutiagin' (Pen & Sword Aviation, 2009). Future books will include Svetlana Gerasimova's analysis of the prolonged and savage fighting against Army Group Center in 1942-43 to liberate the city of Rzhev, and more of Igor Seidov's studies of the Soviet side of the air war in Korea, 1951-1953.

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Format: Hardcover
This is well written and researched book covering one of the "Forgotten Battles" of the Russo-German War, which is still the subject of a large measure of official silence. Covering a series of battles, of which David Glantz has covered one of these - Operation Mars, (Zhukovs Greatest Defeat Disaster Operation it details a campaign that was longer and more costly than the Stalingrad one. Yet it saw the deployment of over 30% of the total forces in the theatre on both sides into an area of 500km and only 150km away from Moscow over a period of 15 months. This was the Eastern Front's Verdun or Somme with huge casualties on both sides for little or no gain in terms of ground or strategic advantage and must be viewed through the prism of these earlier battles. Many of the Soviet losses were due to tactical inexperience due to the rapid expansion of the Red Army in the late 1930s and the losses of the early months of 1941 in addition to the oft quoted causes of the Purges and disregard of human life by the High Command. I would recommend readers having a history of the Somme open when reading his book to act as a base of perspective.

This book is a good read due to two reasons, which are often lacking from many other recently published books on the Russo-German War, because it uses both Soviet and German accounts of the battle to tell the story from both sides and it humanises the Soviet side by using a wealth of personal recollections and accounts. A genuine effort is made to establish the extent of the losses on both sides, although this is an area were other authors can claim higher body counts and where the official historians can criticise the author and lower it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Rzhev Slaughterhouse by Svetlana Gerasimova is a fantastic book in many ways. First of all it brings new information to the fighting in the Eastern Front and secondly it presents a very balanced view of the struggle without some of the all to frequent Soviet/Russian "adjustments" to history.

The Book presents a short but comprehensive description on what took place in front of Moscow during 1942 and early 1943. This is a part of the front that for many is a sideshow to the more well known Battle for Stalingrad. Ms Gerasimova shows that what actually took place was a gigantic battle that in some ways were even larger than the Battle of Stalingrad. It is hard to write about a campaign and the battles that took place without getting bogged down in huge number of details but Ms Gerasimova manages this splendidly. Her story is both to the point, clear and still she manages to present details making you understand what took place.

More than two million soviet soldiers became casualties in these battles. The Enormity of it all is staggering. Of course no book can bring full justice to something that big but this one stakes an important first step.

Ms Gerasimova also dares direct criticism to one of the major Soviet heroes of the war, Marshal Zhukov, for his conduct of the battle. This is not the first time this is done but it is done very seldom from a Russian writer. She also brings up how the Soviet forces by using tactics from the first world war (frontal assaults from the same direction again and again) almost by themselves created their own losses. Some of the personal stories that she tells are such that you have to ask yourself how it was possible.
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Ms Gerasimova believes the general public is not aware of the scale or the importance of the fighting for the control of the Rzhev-Viazma salient that began in January 1942 as an extension of the Moscow counter offensive and lasted until March 1943 when the Germans skillfully pulled back to shorten the line and to prepare for Operation Citadel.
As an academic and professional historian these series of battles over this 15 month period and the subsequent impact it had on the war has intrigued and obliged her to studied this time period in great detail. This depth of research and dedication shines through with the level of details and commentary presented.
The level of the author's knowledge is not only impressive but is backed up with the inclusion of snippets from other historians as well as comments by notables like Stalin, Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Grossmann, Model, von Tippelskirch etc.

The book has seven chapters; the first six are divided into the separate phases of battle that occurred during this period and the final chapter is conclusions and results. The books begins by explaining the basics: the size and location of the salient, how it came to be as well as the importance of controlling this ground so close to Moscow. This is not a daily battle chronicle which projects constant fighting but an overview of the separate offensives intermixed between relative periods of quiet refit and preparation for the next surge of fighting. For example the very first phase of Soviet fighting that lasted from January to April 1942 was the longest and most costly of the entire period and dwarfs all the other phases including Operation Mars. The next Soviet phase begins to escalate in July though the Germans squeezed in a small counter between these two Soviet offensives.
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