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Mr. L. Mackinlay (Edinburgh Scotland)
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Battleground Prussia: The Assault on Germany's Eastern Front 1944-45 (General Military)
Battleground Prussia: The Assault on Germany's Eastern Front 1944-45 (General Military)
by Prit Buttar
Edition: Hardcover

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Narrative!, 20 April 2011
I bought this book as I have been trying for years to find a good history covering the battles around East Prussia towards the end of the war. I was not disappointed by this book! The author has put in a lot of groundwork to detail the movements of divisions, corps and armies at this time (I suspect this may not have been too easy given the chaos that reigned over that period). The excellent use of first hand stories interspersed with the more technical side of battles made this book very difficult to put down. This, for me, is the strength of this book..the ability to bring the human stories behind battles into the narrative. The human stories quite rightly include the fate of civilians caught up in this disaster.

The book is very well organised (again, no mean feat given the amount that was going on at any one time) and I did not feel lost as I was led through the events and the stories of specific individuals caught up in it all. I only have a few moans, but these should not take away from buying this book. The maps could have been better, as, at times, I could not find where some places were that were mentioned in the text..I did not need more battle lines (these would have been very fluid anyway) but better maps would have helped in places. The other one was the end where the fate of some of the individuals mentioned in the text was maybe not always followed through in as much detail as I would have liked. Finally, whilst some Russian personal stories were included, I would have liked more, to better balance the whole history (however, this is a common 'failing' amongst books covering this time and may be more down to finding it hard to find good sources). As I say, these are minor moans!

I was interested to see that the author had not quoted from Guy Sajer's 'The Forgotten Soldier', as his book covers many of the events mentioned in this book. Why not? (the old debate about this book obviously comes to mind)..perhaps the author himself does not believe that Sajer's story can be 100% verified (I personally believe that it is based upon actual experiences).

At any rate, I'd totally recommend this book to anyone interested in this period. It may leave you exhausted and shocked at times, but if it didn't, the book would not have got its story across. An excellent history of the battles (and I have read lots of war books!) and a must for the bookshelf of anyone who wants to know more about this period.


A Stranger to Myself
A Stranger to Myself
by Michael Hofmann
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story straight from the soul, 13 Nov. 2007
This review is from: A Stranger to Myself (Hardcover)
This book tells the story of the fighting on the eastern front from a very personal angle, going deep into the human pysche of what it is like to leave life's familiar things behind you as you turn into a soldier. The book is very poetic and reveals the passions of a typical (romantic) young man who sees himself as an adventurer; a theme he often returns to in the book. In this, it is very easy to relate to as we have all had such thoughts. I found his descriptions of the landscape and even the trees he clearly enjoyed seeing very moving as he brought the whole horror of the war to life by writing observations anyone would see during a woodland walk on a Sunday afternoon never mind a walk between dugouts. The author slips between highs and lows throughout the book as events impact upon him and the story is all the more poignant as we know Willy Reese died during the devastating Russian summer offensive of 1944. This is not your average war autobiography. Yes, it follows the author through battles and hard times, but more importantly, the book gives the reader a real sense of how war can change you inside. This is not a book for those who like lots of battle action or battle descriptions (though clearly they are often mentioned in the book too), or indeed who like to whizz through a book, nor does it really go into who the friends around him were..most other characters in the book rarely get named..but it will leave a big impression upon you on the futility of war if you give it the time and patience it deserves. Had he lived, I suspect Willy Reese would have become a great poet.


A Guide to the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Iceland
A Guide to the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Iceland
by Hordur G. Kristinsson
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book, 26 Jun. 2007
Just back from Iceland where I used the book (with Icelandic text (& Latin names)..I can't read icelandic!). The photos are superb and really help your id of flowers whilst now that I own an english version, the descriptions seem very helpful too. Whilst I use plant id books a lot, I would say that you don't need to be a botanist-type to find your flowers in this book. It appeared to have most of the main flower species that we saw on the island (and it will help your id of Scottish mountain plants too). It also includes the sedges, grasses, horsetails and ferns but it probably helps to have some experience of these groups before using the book to id them. The layout of the book is very good, it's about rhe size and weight of a novel and it is quick to find things in it. Heartily recommend it despite the price (nothing is cheap in Iceland though you can buy this book in english in Rekjavik's main bookshop too for a bit cheaper but not much..don't know if you're allowed to say that here!!).


Blood Red Snow Memoirs German
Blood Red Snow Memoirs German
by Gunter K. Koschorrek
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story from the general ranks rather than the generals, 27 Feb. 2007
There is a mass of German autobiographies hitting the market place at the moment which is certainly a good thing if we are to understand all sides of the Second World War. Some books are obviously better than others and I have to say that this book is very good. Well-written, well-organised and telling things from the general ranks (a rare thing), this is a powerful book, not least because it brings to life the characters mentioned in the text, and thereby makes the story more accessible and less academic. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Eastern Front as well as the Second World War.


Slaughter at Halbe: The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army - April 1945
Slaughter at Halbe: The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army - April 1945
by Tony Le Tissier
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One-sided story, 9 Dec. 2005
A harrowing book telling a story that really needs to be known about in the western world. The narrative takes a while to get going but once it does, it is well told (and very sad). The book falls down in only concentrating on the German side of the personal stories with no Russian personal views (other than those at the General level). A serious omission in my view if this book is to be judged as a balanced historical publication.


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