Considering that Stalingrad was one of the most decisive battles in WWII and that it was fought by two enormous armies for six months, it is hard to understand, how Osprey Editors could believe, that it was possible to describe it in one 96 pages book. They did the right thing with Normandy (four volumes), Battle of Bulge (two volumes), Yom Kippur (two volumes) and even Gettysburg (a special 128 pages edition), but they failed to notice the need to more space in this battle. I find it unbelievable.
Peter D. Antill made things even harder, wasting eight precious pages on the description of operation "Barbarossa" and battle of Moscow - this lack of focus is, sadly, typical for his books (for more on this topic, please see my review of "Berlin 1945"). However, once he actually started to describe the battle, he did his best and, although his task was impossible by lack of space, he managed to give a rather good, but very general, account of of events. The book is also well illustrated and with excellent maps. And the three color plates are of the highest quality!
Here however, one more remark for Osprey editing team - the topic of the book is Stalingrad, so how come, that the first color plate describes... an ambush in Caucasus! How is it possible to be so much of focus, when there is already not enough space!
Second remark on the same plate - the comment is that Soviet infantry is using its long range weapons, because German Gebirgsjagers are beyond the practical range of PPSh41 sub-machine guns... but on the same plate we see Soviet riflemen engaging enemy with hand grenades! I can't help but wonder - are Osprey books viewed by anybody, before going to print? Because even me, with no military experience at all, I simply know, that something that you throw by hand, has a shorter practical range that something you shoot (well, except maybe if you are Hulk Hogan... but most soldiers are not).
For all the reasons described before - shame on you, Osprey guys. This was an incredible battle - it deserved better. And now, to sum it up - you can get mostly the same information on this battle on the internet, and for free. If you are ready to pay just two £ more, you can get a copy of Anthony Beevor's bestseller "Stalingrad", which will be more useful and is much, much longer.
There are only two reasons for buying this book - if you collect Osprey Campaign titles, or if you are into the military color plates. Otherwise, you simply do not need it, especially considering that there is a lot of books on this battle. Better books.
Nothing new to get from this book on one of the fiercest battles of the entire war. 3-dimensional bird's eye maps do not give any additional information in the flat landscape of the battlefield. 2D would perfectly do. More informative would have been more detailed, time related account of each of the combatant's losses in relation to each other operations. Also there is almost no attention paid to the unique conditions of the battlefield i.e. fully fledged panzer divisions with infantry fighting in an urban battle where there took maybe a week to capture a building! Where are tactics and frustrations of the participants?? OK, OK maybe a little too detailed for so small a copy but then at least we would have seen something new.
Everything involving the Battle for Stalingrad in 1942 is on a large scale, including the number of books written on the subject,many being worthy but vast volumes so that unless you are already familiar with the subject they can swamp you in details and breadth. Now this is a problem which I feel Osprey are good at tackling with clear, concise and tightly compacted texts, back up by readable maps, easy to follow orders of battle, several good quality photographs and their trademark excellent illustrations. Stalingrad 1942 serves admirably in all departments, and so if you are new to this campaign then I would strongly recommend this book as an introduction to familiarise yourself with the sheer enormity of the struggle which took place in the south of The Soviet Union in 1942 and the previous events which shaped that struggle. As stated all is clearly set out and easy to follow, with exceptional photographs both in their poignancy of the pain and suffering aswell as the knack of soldiers to adapt (German mountain troops with a camel is fascinating- found or `obtained' ?).