on 22 August 2014
Mr Barratt completes his coverage of this Soviet operation with this second volume. This part of the Soviet winter offensive was called Zhitomir-Berdichev due to the axis of attack and had the objective of liberating the rest of Ukraine from German control. There were several new Soviet offensives that were spawn from this operation after the German counter-attack was halted but they will not be covered in this book.
In the first volume, the Soviets initially push the Germans back from the Dnepr River in the first two weeks of the assault and in this volume you see after von Manstein receives reinforcements counter-attacks with the objective of closing the widening gap and stabilizing the front line between the towns of Uman, Vinnitsa and Rovno. The German attack does gain ground, securing a brief respite but at this stage of the war German forces were unable to hold the line once the Soviets regrouped and resumed their offensive.
Working primarily from German war records, the author drives the story from the German perspective and while there is some Soviet material some people may be disappointed with the imbalance. I would have liked to have seen more Soviet material but admit the author has done an excellent job with the German side, providing comprehensive coverage of all AGS divisions and the battle sites they defended within this campaign. Since I've been looking for years to read a comprehensive account of this Operation and been unable to find much material, I was delighted to read the daily operational events of this two volume set. This operation also fills the void between the Kursk-Kharkov-Kiev fighting in 1943 with the Soviet offensives toward L'vov-Rovno-Lutsk (eastward) and Cherkassy-Korsun drive to the south that came immediately after Zhitomir-Berdichev and takes the Soviet offensive to mid 1944.
Just like the first volume, the second volume includes a separate but larger map book. The maps have the same format as the first volume and if you liked the first set, you'll like these. Its a combination of overall summary maps plus small area maps for each day of the campaign. The author has obviously spent a lot of time on these good looking maps but there is a weakness that avid students may take issue with. The disposition of forces is incomplete. While the German side will display division or corps coverage there are only red arrows that shows Soviet axes of attack.
In addition to the maps, Mr Barratt includes Notes and an Index. Orders of Battle for both sides and a few tables of casualty figures are also included. (It may be helpful but I found it a little bizarre that military units found only in the Soviet OB and not in the rest of the book are included in the Index.)
The narrative ends with a summary of the entire operation and analysis. Its obvious the author has spent a lot of time researching and collating this material and has become an expert; his views are valid and for anybody looking to study the complete historiography of the war should seriously consider reading this overlooked operation.