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on 21 July 2017
Written more for the historian than for the general reader. Therefore, not very engagingly written, though informative and thorough enough.
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on 6 August 2017
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on 20 June 2017
Engrossing read... great way to learn about the war that we now seem to have forgotten about...
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I read this work in the very late nineties, by that time this work was already `dated'. We are now, at the time of writing this review, into the second decade of the 21st century where there is more factual information available and, if you couple this with current IT resources, it thus enables historical writers to write four times the amount of information in terms of such things like, maps, battle statistics and wealth of information from new Russian archive sources and individual accounts from the men, women who served in the soviet armed forces. The resultant is historical works, that are written in great depth on just single events, like `Kursk' etc that fill up the same space as this book. These resources and sources were just not available to Alan Clarke, when he took on this `Mammoth' enterprise. To be able write a single volume history of Hitler' failed gamble in the `East' was a huge task to say the least. After saying all of the above, I must say that this is a very readable account and flows more like an action adventure novel, and for me this book ignited my interest on the war in the East and has been a catalyst in my further reading on the subject by such authors as Mark Healy and his excellent work on Zitadelle. Mr Christer Bergstrom, and his work on the use aviation in the war, there are other notable works and this list works is longer every year.
For me the way Clarke explains Hitler's ever changing relationship with his generals activities are illuminating, and this work shows the relationships were complex and as one reviewer puts it `downfall cannot be solely blamed on him' him being Hitler.

Flaws yes, lack of updated information yes - in fact the answer is yes to all of these criticisms. However, for me this is very readable, anecdotal and reasonably comprehensive work that is carefully distilled into a fine narrative and thus is highly recommend.
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on 25 October 2001
I first read this splendid one-volume history of the Russo-German conflict of WW2 more than thirty years ago and its immediacy, masterful simplification of complex campaigns and operations, colourful evocations of heroism and cowardice and outright pathos have never left me. This is not a detailed history and the concentration is on a few major, but decisive, campaigns but these are covered with such verve that the reader is quite likely to be fascinated by the subject for the rest of their lives, and to seek out ever more thereafter. Though meticulous in his descriptions and evaluations, Clark is never a neutral observer - and this is probably what makes the book so totally unforgettable even down to individual episodes. His judgements on men can be devastating - his summary of the clownish ineptitude and outdated heroics of Budenny is as succinct and merciless as anything in Gibbon - and his accounts of epic-scale actions never fail to reflect the human cost. The image of hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners trudging towards starvation, slave labour and medical experiments after the great 1941encirclement battles in the Ukraine, and of isolated pockets fighting to the last man, as loudspeakers relayed the exhortations of Stalin, will stay with the reader forever. Clark's account of Stalingrad was powerful enough to send my wife and myself to the city itself within months of reading the book - a powerful and unforgettable experience. Clark did not just give us the feel the nightmare of street fighting across entire square miles of blazing ruins and factories, but he helped us visualise the abject misery of the Sixth Army's entombed survivors as, in the unlikely surroundings of a rebuilt department store's basement, we found the spot where von Paulus surrendered. Simultaneously, we were conscious that somewhere to the west that von Manstein's relief forces were stalled, supplies packed in trucks that included even British vehicles captured at Dunkirk eighteen months before. By such details is history brought alive. The section on Kursk could almost stand alone as a modern Illiad and description of the destruction of Army Group Centre, and of the final battles in Germany itself, conveys the full horror of what it means to be part of a hitherto coherent organism in terminal collapse. I came to this book again when my daughter asked me to recommend an introduction to the subject - and from her enthusiasm, three decades on, I sensed that in this book we probably have a timeless classic. Other books deal with the Great Patriotic War in greater detail - commander's accounts, of which the best is probably von Manstein's "Lost Victories", war-correspondent's accounts like Alexander Werth's "Russia at War" or Curzio Malapartre's searing "The Volga rises in Europe", modern reassessments of specific campaigns like Anthony Beevor's superb "Stalingrad" and popular histories like Harrison Salisbury's "The Thousand Days" - but none can equal this as an introduction and as an overview. By the sweep of the narrative, by the elegance of the prose, by the power of the imagery and, above all, by the sheer humanity of tone, this marvellous history justifies Alan Clark's entire life. A wonderful book.
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on 12 November 2014
This book is now almost 50 years old. Since its first publication much more information has come to light especially on the Soviet side. Accordingly, the question is why read this book. It is mostly well written. However, if you look at it as a commentary on the this conflict and in particular on the relationship between Hitler and the German army. On this it is revelatory and interesting.
Well worth reading. For more detail and accuracy on the Soviet side read John Erickson.
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on 16 September 2001
This book made me see the Russo-German campaign in a new light. Previously-held beliefs that the Russians were somewhat fortunate to survive the might of the Nazi war machine in the early stages were swept away by Alan Clark's account of the unpreparedness of the Wehrmacht for the campaign in the first place, the arrogance and ineptitude of the German high command and the stubbornness and bravery of the ordinary Russian soldier. He goes into great detail about the movement of armies and who did what and where, interspersed with personal accounts from people who actually did the fighting. He also makes reference from time to time of the constant in-fighting between the German generals, vying for personal power bases and favours from Hitler, all to the detriment of the German war effort. Alan Clark traces the campaign from beginning to end, from the early years of German successes to their disatrous failures at Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk, and finally to the Russians at the gates of the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin. If you like strategy, then this is for you.
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on 15 October 2004
While not containing the small personal details of Beevor's Stalingrad and Berlin, this book is nonetheless a fascinating read, and will make you eager to learn more, which is no bad thing. Clark's grasp of politics is clear from his descriptions of the machinations of the German high command and in the final months the mistrust between the allied leaders as they approached Berlin. An excellent grounding in the subject, almost worth buying for the verbatim texts of many of Hitler's conferences alone, which clearly chart his mental disintegration towards the end. Recommended.
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on 31 December 2014
I loved this book & would like to have met Alan Clark! He zoomed along at a cracking pace & it was all you could do to keep up!
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on 20 February 2001
An excellent and brilliant book, mainly seen and described from the German side of the court, but exhaustive and, last but not least, written in a very good and sometimes "literary" English. I warmly recommend this book to everyone interested in the WW2 Eastern Front.
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