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Stalingrad

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Indeed, it is as readable and as captivating as a Tolstoyan epic drama of the scope of War and Peace. With Hitler's launch of Operation Barbarossa and planned annihilation of Bolshevism - or rather, it's new form: Stalinism, his armies would turned up on the banks of the Volga and end up marking the turning point in the second World War.

On top of that, German generals did not even imagine what awaited their divisions inside the ruined city. It's not a bad book, but as a proclaimed "historical analysis" I can hardly give it more than one star. In an attempt to impress Toni, a neighbour he is trying to romance, he quotes facts he has learnt from Beevor's book. Just when the battle for the streets of Stalingrad appeared to be turning into a stalemate, with General Vassili Chuikov of the Soviet 62nd Army fighting Paulus's German Sixth Army to a virtual draw, Marshal Zhukov initiated an encircling movement that caught the Nazis unaware. But the eventual victory of the Red Army, and the failure of Hitler's Operation Barbarossa was the first defeat of Hitler's territorial ambitions in Europe, and the start of his decline.You hear about the stories of typhus, dysentery, diphtheria outbreaks, and you shudder at the idea of being a soldier in a trench, being put through the most hellish conditions. It has much to teach us, born into the pampered post-war epoch, about the unfathomable evil of which human beings are capable. However, although Soviet attacks at this point were appallingly wasteful and incompetent, there could be no doubt about the determination to defend Stalingrad at any cost. The reason I’d never turned to it was because I was initially more interested in periods earlier than the 20th Century.

It possessed "savage intimacy," which horrified German generals, who felt they were rapidly losing control over events. Ce qui manqué aux Palmeres d'Antony Beevor, c'est le prix Nobel de littérature accordé à un historien pour la dernière fois en 1953.Yet, General Rodimtsev's troops managed to hold on to the Kurgan, and the German 295th Infantry Division was "fought to a standstill. Lately I have been on a reading binge of books focused on the Eastern Front and the Second World War. As the Eastern Front collapsed toward the Volga, the Russians were closer to their base of supply in the Urals and around Moscow, while the Germans were dangerously stretched. Still, it's a gripping, absorbing and important book, showing just how close Russia came to full Nazi occupation and the terrible consequences of two evil men in Hitler and Stalin coming to blows. A Napoleonic dictum says that to gain power, one must be absolutely petty, but to wield power, one must exercise true greatness.

Even as Stalingrad was falling, Rommel was losing in North Africa and America was gearing up to (finally) get in the fight. As a reader, along with the author, moves toward the battle of Stalingrad, the players of different ranks and their fateful decisions come into play. Bravery - Russian soldier having one Molotov cocktail shot from hand and enveloping him in fire, only to carry the second and himself onto a Panzer tank. Lowe argues that "What made [ Stalingrad] so refreshing was the way that he combined academic rigour with a storyteller’s sensibility.Antony Beevor is the author of Crete: The Battle and the Resistance (Runciman Prize), Stalingrad (Samuel Johnson Prize, Wolfson Prize for History and Hawthornden Prize), Berlin: The Downfall , The Battle for Spain (Premio La Vanguardia), D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (Prix Henry Malherbe and the RUSI Westminster Medal), The Second World War, and Ardennes 1944 (shortlist Prix Médicis) . Beevor takes the first 100 pages to give an account of the war in the east up to arriving at the outskirts of Stalingrad. The battle became the focus of Hitler and Stalin's determination to win the vicious war on the eastern front. It is certainly the best narrative of the battle yet to appear and is not likely to be surpassed in our time.

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