Enemy at the Gates is a classic military book written about the epic World War II Battle of Stalingrad, fought in 1942-1943 between the superpowers of the time - Hitler's Germany and Stalin's U.S.S.R. The author interviewed a lot of survivors from both sides, including soldiers, doctors and civilians and obtain invaluable insight into the battle which significantly influenced the outcome of the war. For the first time, Nazi Germany had been crushed in a battle.
The book describes how in 1942, the German Sixth Army, fresh from crushing victories inflicted on the Allies across Europe, advanced deep into U.S.S.R. in an attempt to capture Stalingrad. Though out-numbered, the Russian army heroically fought back and held Stalingrad against a much more powerful enemy. Eye-witness accounts of the horrors of the initial bombings, the brutality of the fighting were described. The Russians were slowly pushed back and victory for the Germans seemed just a matter of time before the Russian reinforcements came in and encircled the Germans in Stalingrad, cutting supply lines for an army with almost 300,000 men.
The Germans quickly ran out of food and ammunition as the Russians encirclement grew tighter and tighter. The book detailed how the German High Command was bullish about delivering enough supplies to the troops inside the encirclement (even predicting a victory) and the politics and individual misjudgements which lead to the diaster that followed.
At this point, no matter what your opinions on the Germans are, you will feel sorry for the German troops trapped in the encirclement, slowly weakening and dying due to hunger, unable to launch counterattacks due to lack of supplies, waiting for the inevitable diaster to come.
The final chapter also describes the surrender and the fate of hundreds of thousands of German, Romanian and Italian prisoners of war. Only a small percentage of these troops saw their home countries again as they were killed or starved to death. Survivors of the prison camps described in horror how some of their countrymen had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
At the back of the book is a short chapter describing the fate of some of the survivors of the battle. I found this section to be quite interesting to see how the people involved in this battle ended up.
The only thing I find lacking in this book is detailed maps showing how the battle evolved from the initial German advances to the final destruction of the Sixth Army.
I strongly recommend this book to you.