War Without Garlands. Operation Barbarossa 1941/42 Hardcover – 1 Jan 2000
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Examines the campaign largely through the eyes of the German forces who were sent to fight and die for Hitler's grandiose plans. The author draws on German war diaries, post-combat reports and secret SS files to provide an enthralling account of the campaign from the perspective of the ordinary soldier.
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but that said the content is very good.
The book begins a few days before Barbarossa launches as the Germans move to assembly points and make final preparations for the invasion and will end with the Russian counterattack in front of Moscow which started in early December. Between these two events, the strategic highlights are presented for Brest-Litovsk, Minsk, Smolensk, Leningrad, Kiev, Vyazma, Bryansk and the advance toward Moscow.
This overview is interesting but its too limiting for the serious student. David Glantz's "Before Stalingrad" has a more complete picture of Operations Barbarossa, Typhoon. But there is much more to this book than the strategic overview. The author seamlessly weaves hundreds of first hand experiences to help the reader understand the human side of war in addition to the technical. A description of what its like to struggle through muddy roads a foot deep or build a corduroy road or start a tank or truck in -20 weather or to keep your hands from falling off in that same freezing weather. The desperate situation a soldier finds himself in when wounded and miles from his unit or the partisans are hunting you. What is feels like when your assigned to clear a huge dark forest that could have Russians hiding behind every other tree.
Blitzkrieg is a favorite topic in the book and there are sidebars on panzer tactics, pocket encirclement and the costly job of clearing them, logistic problems and more.
The author also provides a number of maps that complements his narrative and includes engagements for Brest-Litovsk, Minsk, Smolensk, Leningrad, Kiev and Moscow. There is another map that shows all of the major encirclements that were cleared by the Germans in 1941.
There are 132 photos to study and you won't find a single commander in the batch. All the photos are of troops on the ground, panzer attacks, POWs. The assortment was good but some are showing their age and are faded. Despite the less than perfect quality, the photos were still interesting.
There is also a brief Notes section, Bibliography, Appendix and Index.
Though it was an interesting read, I was a little disappointed with the incompleteness of the battle coverage. I would still recommend it for new or casual readers of the war for it does highlight the important battles of 1941 and includes some interesting topics that sometimes are overlooked by other authors.
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