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An excellent introduction, but dry at times
on 4 June 2015
An excellent introduction for the layman.
Addressing an oft-neglected period of of the Great War, Norman Stone provides us with a concise narrative of some of the war's most brutal campaigns. With an impressive array of facts and figures, he debunks the myth of Tsarist Russia being unable to wage total war, debunks the myth of Ludendorff as a military genius, and highlights how the February revolution of 1917 in Russia, was not brought about by mass conscription or severe food shortage, but rather a failure of the authorities to move food from the countryside to the city.
Stone also address another curious factor, the relatively static lines of the Eastern front. Unlike the Western front, the great expanse of the east provided ample room for manoeuvre and great break-through, but as Stone points out, the mobility wasn't there (the combustion engine was still in its infancy) and cavalry were next to useless at exploiting breakthroughs (modern firepower meant that even a squad off men could see off a cavalry troop)
The book suffers slightly from the author's inability to decide whether or not he's writing a military history of the eastern front, or a military history of the Russian army during this period, and this halfway house approach is evident in the latter chapters. Some more information about the Austro-Hungarians would have been welcome.
Despite this, this remains a classic of the genre.