Stalingrad - The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2007, 12:00am

Stalingrad - The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943

by Antony Beevor

Penguin, HK$165

In the four-month battle between Germany and the Soviet Red Army for Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in the summer and winter of 1942-43, an estimated 1 million people died on both sides. It was a titanic, hideous, decisive battle. Foreign Affairs calls Stalingrad - The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 'an exceptional work of military history', drawing on previously untapped Russian and German archives and interviews with surviving participants to create a 'masterly work'. Beevor's top-down, bottom-up approach allows the strategic considerations of Hitler and Stalin to play out in half-starved sniper units and assault teams crawling through rubble in inch-by-inch urban warfare. The first half of Stalingrad takes the reader from Hitler's 1941 invasion to Stalingrad, the gateway to the Soviet oil fields to the south. But the Red Army held on, as much out of fear of execution - 13,500 deserters were shot - as of bravery. 'This is how Berlin is going to look,' said one Soviet officer of the devastated city as the generals of Germany's Sixth Army surrendered on the banks of the Volga. Beevor's remarkable Berlin - The Downfall, 1945 finds the officer better than his word. And coming up next April, there's The Siege of Leningrad.



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