Using available primary sources from both sides, Mr Ziemke has written another fine volume of the Russo-German War which will take the reader to January of 1943 when Paulus surrenders the 6th Army at Stalingrad. This supplements his first volume that covered Stalingrad to Berlin. Given the format of this reviewed volume, I would guess the author intended to write a third volume covering Operations Barbarossa and Typhoon in greater detail but don't believe it was ever published. Expect some duplication of coverage if reading both volumes.
Trying to be objective, I gave four stars to this book but I personally liked it as if it were a five star book. The author deliberately focuses on the operational aspect of the war, leaving the political and criminal aspects to be covered by others. Mr Ziemke begins by lightly covering the planning stage of Barbarossa and then moving into a summary of Operations Barbarossa and Typhoon. The more detailed coverage, the almost daily coverage doesn't begin until the first week of December, 1941 when Zhukov launches his offensive to expell Army Group Center from Moscow and then destroy AGC by a massive encirclement by the Kalinin and West Fronts. The outer limits would be Rzhev in the north and Sukhinichi to the south; this area was defended by much of AGC.
In addition to a competent and fair description of the engagements, the author also covers Hitler's attempt to motivate and keep alive his forces while refusing to allow a major retreat that would lose AGC much of its equipment during this major Russian offensive. Emphasis is also placed on the impact the extreme cold and deep snow had on the ill prepared Gemans.
Its clearly shown the desparate situation the Germans were in and it would only improve when the Russians became exhausted and over extend their supply lines. Mr Ziemke also believes Zhukov and Stalin were too ambitous with their objectives and didn't devote enough forces to the AGC sector. Instead of fighting along most of the front, if Stalin had devoted another Front against AGC, the Germans probably would have been defeated.
The Russian attack and counterattack at Kharkov is also well covered as is the different phases of Operation Blue as von Bock tries to advance along the Don in order for AGS to reach the Volga at Stalingrad. Also covered but with less detail are campaigns for the Crimea especially Sevastopol, Rostov, the Caucasus, Rzhev salient, Demyansk, Leningrad and independent partisan participation. There are also micro engagements included that I haven't seen before.
Also presented are 44 good maps that nicely support the author's narrative. While the maps were helpful showing troop dispositions, axes of attack, line penetrations, it would have been better to see the dispositions drilled down to division level instead of Army or Corps level. In addition to the maps, 92 photos were included; some were commanders, battlefield scenes and civilians. An Appendix, Glossary, Source Notes and Index close out the book.
This book and its companion book is ideal for new and intermediate students or collectors of the war; even the highly experience would appreciate this summary and might even pick up some new info. Its highly recommended.
- Publisher: Hippocrene Books (1 March 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0880292946
- ISBN-13: 978-0880292948
- Package Dimensions: 23.9 x 17.8 x 4.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.1 Kg
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