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Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 [Paperback]

Antony Beevor
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 10 1999
Historians and reviewers worldwide have hailed Antony Beevor's magisterial Stalingrad as the definitive account of World War II's most harrowing battle. In August 1942, Hitler's huge Sixth Army reached the city that bore Stalin's name. In the five month siege that followed, the Russians fought to hold Stalingrad at any cost, then caught their Nazi enemy in an astonishing reversal. As never before, Stalingrad conveys the experience of soldiers on both sides as they fought in inhuman conditions, and of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. Antony Beevor has interviewed survivors and discovered completely new material in a wide range of German and Soviet archives, including reports of prisoner interrogations, desertions, and executions. The battle of Stalingrad was the psychological turning point of World War II; as Beevor makes clear, it also changed the face of modern warfare. As a story of cruelty, courage, and human suffering, Stalingrad is unprecedented and unforgettable.

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From Amazon

Hitler made two fundamental and crippling mistakes during the Second World War. The first was his whimsical belief that the United Kingdom would eventually become his ally, which delayed his decision to launch a major invasion of Britain, whose army was unprepared for the force of blitzkrieg warfare. The second was the ill-conceived Operation Barbarossa--an invasion of Russia that was supposed to take the German army to the gates of Moscow. Antony Beevor's thoughtfully researched compendium recalls this epic struggle for Stalingrad. No one, least of all the Germans, could foretell the deep well of Soviet resolve that would become the foundation of the Red Army; Russia, the Germans believed, would fall as swiftly as France and Poland. The ill-prepared Nazi forces were trapped in a bloody war of attrition against the Russian behemoth, which held them in the pit of Stalingrad for nearly two years. Beevor points out that the Russians were by no means ready for the war either, making their stand even more remarkable; Soviet intelligence spent as much time spying on its own forces--in fear of desertion, treachery and incompetence--as they did on the Nazis. Due attention is also given to the points of view of the soldiers and generals of both forces, from the sickening battles to life in the gulags.

Many believe Stalingrad to be the turning point of the war. The Nazi war machine proved to be fallible as it spread itself too thin for a cause that was born more from arrogance than practicality. The Germans never recovered, and its weakened defences were no match for the Allied invasion of 1944. We know little of what took place in Stalingrad or its overall significance, leading Beevor to humbly admit that "[t]he Battle of Stalingrad remains such an ideologically charged and symbolically important subject that the last word will not be heard for many years". This is true. But this gripping account should become the standard work against which all others should measure themselves. --Jeremy Storey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This gripping account of Germany's notorious campaign combines sophisticated use of previously published firsthand accounts in German and Russian along with newly available Soviet archival sources and caches of letters from the front. For Beevor (Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949), the 1942 German offensive was a gamble that reflected Hitler's growing ascendancy over his military subordinates. The wide-open mobile operations that took the 6th Army into Stalingrad were nevertheless so successful that Soviet authorities insisted they could be explained only by treason. (Over 13,000 Soviet soldiers were formally executed during the battle for Stalingrad alone.) Combat in Stalingrad, however, deprived the Germans of their principal force multipliers of initiative and flexibility. The close-gripped fighting brought men to the limits of endurance, then kept them there. Beevor juxtaposes the grotesque with the mundane, demonstrating the routines that men on both sides developed to cope with an environment that brought them to the edge of madness. The end began when German army commander Friedrich von Paulus refused to prepare for the counterattack everyone knew was coming. An encircled 6th Army could neither be supplied by air nor fight its way out of the pocket unsupported. Fewer than 10,000 of Stalingrad's survivors ever saw Germany again. For the Soviet Union, the victory became a symbol not of a government, but of a people. The men and women who died in the city's rubble could have had worse epitaphs than this sympathetic treatment. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg. History Book Club main selection; BOMC alternate selection; foreign sales to the U.K., Germany and Russia.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All trees, no forest. Buy Montefiore and Manstein Nov. 28 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would like to say that I like this book, but I can't. It is difficult to figure out what is going on. Beevor proves that the Germans were beastly, and the Russians
were ruthless (the Eastern Front has been described as a competition between Hitler
and Stalin to see who could kill the most Russians, with Stalin winning easily); but the overall movement does not emerge. It is better to read von Manstein's Lost Battles for the large movements, and von Manstein was a far better writer than Beevor.

However, what I find inexcusable about this book, which appeared in 2007, is that its
discussions of the thinking and doings of the Soviet High Command are little better
than informed speculation. And yet we have Simon Sebag Montefiore's amazing "The Court of the Red Czar", which appeared in 2004.
Montefiore, working on interviews with survivors, children of the leaders etc., and archival information, tells us exactly what Stalin, Molotov, Zhukov, etc. said, and did, day by day and minute by minute, and a dramatic and savage account it is, too,
as when Stalin upbraids Zhukov for misplacing an army or two, and Zhukov runs out
of the room crying, followed by Molotov to console him - the hardest of the hard men,
nearly broken by the Nazi onslaught.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great beginners resource Dec 2 2012
Antony Beevor's "Stalingrad" isn't something that's going to captivate the man or woman already well-educated on the Stalingrad campaign. If you're already familiar with the movements and actions of Paulus's 6th Army in and around the Don, or if you're already well versed with Operation Uranus and its causes and results, feel free to skip this book and move on to something a little more in depth. However, if you're new to the subject matter --- perhaps just a general reader -- than I can't recommend "Stalingrad" enough.

The Battle of Stalingrad was a drawn out, bloody, and savage affair. Even if you're just have a casual interest in WWII history, you likely already know this to one degree or another. Beevor's greatest accomplishment in "Stalingrad" is to really make you understand just how dastardly the fight really was. From the Soviet women that manned the AV batteries on the outskirts of the city, to the stacks of bodies piled on high during the winter of '42 and '43 after the encirclement of 6th Army, Beevor doesn't let up in letting the reader just how catastrophic and deadly this battle on the Eastern Front really was.

All this concern with the horror of the fight, however, does come at an expense. Detail in Beevor's "Stalingrad" is rather lacking when it comes to military maneuver and the mindset and planning of the various HQs, particularly the Russian. Of course, the casual reader may feel overloaded and rather bored if Beevor had dropped dozens of divisional and corps numbers into the narrative, and it may well have ended up weakening the overall narrative, which is the horror of the Battle of Stalingrad itself.

If you have an interest in WWII, in particular the Eastern Front, and you don't have a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, you can't do better than be Antony Beevor's "Stalingrad". I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The horror permeates the blur of detail July 6 2004
What remains in my mind are the incidental points: German soldiers drowning in latrines, too weak from dysentary to rescue themselves or be rescued by starving comrades. Russians incinerated as they try to flee across the Volga. Mass cruelty mixed with a German clergyman painting a "Fortress Madonna" on the only available paper, the back of a military map. Soviet propagandists blaring "death tango" music across the front. The Russian truce seekers meeting with Germans after Christmas. Those on both sides who desert. Soviet POWs worked to death as human oxen. German letters home from the "kessel." Hitler's gambling with half a million lives and Goebbels' media manipulation. Stalin's NKVD and Hitler's Feldgendarmerie both shooting those terrified to fight. Everywhere, mud, ice, blood.
These poignant and infuriating vignettes rise above the sheer mass of often primary-source material trawled by Beevor. Too often, this army formation goes here and this general goes there, especially in the middle of the narrative, and this weakens the "human" touch which I favor, although to be fair other readers may relish these strategic accounts. I certainly needed the maps to follow the action.
When I was a child, a "Reader's Digest" condensation described Stalingraders eating library paste and boiling leather goods to survive. Surprisingly, the civilian plight gains very little attention; the focus here mixes wide-scale accounts of troop movements with accounts drawn from letters and documents.
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This book by noted writer Antony Beevor joins three others that are essential English language "classics" on Stalingrad. These important books are John Erickson's "The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin's War with Germany" and Joel Hayward's "Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East 1942-1943" and Earl Ziemke and Magna Bauer's "Moscow to Stalingrad: Decision in the East".
Beevor has used all three and produced a work that is the least academic but arguably most exciting of all. He has also used Manfred Kehrig's "Stalingrad: Analyse und Dokumentation einer Schlacht"which is not available in English --- sadly.
Beevor also uses the latest research on the Soviets, including the books by David Glantz. He paid researchers to translate unpublished Soviet documents, which also enrich his text.
The book is clearly an excellent overview of the efforts put into winning at Stalingrad by both sides. As scholars have noted in learned articles, Beevor ignores airpower and only deals sketchily with strategy, but his narrative of the human experience of warfare is more than compensatory.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 1 month ago by richard fornwald
1.0 out of 5 stars Distorted pro-nazi account of a heroic battle
Don't many other books from this Mr. Beever. False history. Don't waste your money on anyone of his book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by laosunny
3.0 out of 5 stars too much of a good thing
the adage "more is less" pretty much summarizes my opinion of "stalingrad". it is intelligent, well written and hugely well-researched, all of which are good... Read more
Published 19 months ago by salsa bandit
5.0 out of 5 stars Beevor Rocks
This book was recommended to me by my brother who is an avid history buff. I cannot fault him. What a great read. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2010 by David Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars World Class History.
I first read this book during the summer of 1999 and had never heard of the author beforehand. I took to him immediately and experienced considerable difficulty putting Stalingrad... Read more
Published on June 12 2004 by Bernard Chapin
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning point in Europe
This is a great world war history book I ever read. The turning point Victory in Europe. Russia was not just only t have a great fighting spirit, strategies and worst socialist... Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Pierre Arronax (Herman)
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Great book. What impressed me was the fact that it is so easy to read. Usually I have difficulty with history books, but this one kept me interested. Read more
Published on May 10 2004 by Tim Harvey
3.0 out of 5 stars A Common WW II book
The great battle is only written in a rather straight forward way and is rather dull. Nothing special can be found in this book.
Published on April 29 2004 by LAU YAU CHI
4.0 out of 5 stars All history should read like this
I cannot comment on the historical accuracy of this book (e.g., whether it presents a conventional or more radical interpretation of particular events), nor can I compare it with... Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Gary Scott
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