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Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin - The Eastern Front, 1941-1945 Hardcover – June 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this exhaustive study of the eastern front of World War II, Mosier (Cross of Iron) strongly challenges traditional arguments, asserting that "the evidence suggests not only that Hitler came much closer to an outright victory than is often supposed, but that much of what we think is true about this conflict is, if not completely false, very nearly so." While he agrees with many that the enduring legacy of Hitler and Stalin is the memory of "mountains of corpses" the two leaders left behind, Mosier asserts not only that the Soviet Empire lacked the inexhaustible manpower often attributed to it, but that they were seriously hampered by their own policies, leading to infamous issues of infrastructure (tank factories that turned out tanks but no spare parts, for instance). Mosier returns often to Soviet statistics cited since the war, determining each time that the figures "have very little credibility, are in fact simply another instance of how Stalin created facts to substantiate the pseudo-reality of his state." With 85 pages of sources and endnotes, Mosier's tome will satisfy seriously curious readers in search of a new trail to follow.
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Deathride is a dramatic departure from the conventional wisdom and is itself a dramatic chronicle of the most brutal theater in the most brutal war in one of history’s most brutal centuries. . . . This is a clear-eyed, compelling description of a battle that has been described many times, but seldom with such an ironic eye.”

—David M. Shribman, The Boston Globe

“Mr. Mosier [is] one of the more entertainingly contrarian military historians writing today. . . . an important and groundbreaking book about the Eastern front.”

—Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416573488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416573487
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,240,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By WryGuy2 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin - The Eastern Front, 1941-1945", by John Mosier, seems to be one of those books that you either love or hate. Based on the ratings here on Amazon at the time of my review, there were eight 4 or 5 star ratings, and four 1 star ratings. There were no 2 or 3 star ratings; very polarizing indeed.

Historian John Mosier takes the controversial position that Germany came very close to winning the war against the Soviet Union and that support from the Allies ... both from lend-lease aid and in opening combat fronts on the ground in Africa/Italy and in the air over Germany ... tipped the scales and saved the USSR. He further states that Stalin was able to paint a picture of an all-conquering, unstoppable Red Army to the world that was not at all accurate but was accepted by the world. He also writes that it was primarily due to the severe economic shocks that World War II had on the Soviet economy that the USSR finally collapsed.

My take? I find much to like about the book and much that I disagree with. Mr Mosier has taken many of the facts about World War II, added some new interpretations of his own, and basically reassembled them in a way that challenges the conventional wisdom about the war on the Eastern Front.

A few of the things I agree with: Hitler, although ultimately a madman and guilty of the murder of untold millions, was probably a better armed forces commander than his generals portrayed him. The German generals shifted most of the blame for losing the war onto Hitler's interference rather than their own shortcomings or the valor and sacrifices of the Red Army. While I disagree that Hitler's decisions and leadership was as positive as portrayed by Mr Mosier, I think he was better than how history views him.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Sean Mccormick on June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mosier continues to exhibit several flaws as a writer and a historian that appear even in his better books--he is a shameless self-promoter, and he continually pats himself on the back for exposing historical myths, regardless of whether or not those myths have already been addressed by other historians. He spends a tremendous amount of time exploding the myth of Stalin as great war leader, despite the fact that Kruschev polished off that particular viewpoint a good fifty years ago and that no one spends much time touting Stalin's military virtues anymore. Mosier also likes to tout Hitler as a strategic genius at the expense of his generals, but his case here is considerably weaker than in Cross of Iron.

That said, there are a number of interesting points that are fairly persuasive. Mosier begins by attacking the Soviet production figures and their casualty figures and faulting historians who use them, and he does so by placing them in the historical context of a system that routinely and massively massaged data to support ideology. Soviet production numbers don't make sense when you look at actual material deployments (the Soviets fielded many fewer tanks than you would expect from the factory numbers) and they suffered from very high incidences of mechanical unreliability. The casualty figures are likewise extremely dubious, and Mosier makes a good case that German figures should be used as the basis for discussing the war. Knocking out the legs from under the argument that the Soviets built huge arsenals of tanks and fighters brings the contributions of the American and British Lend Lease into greater focus.

Mosier's basic position is that the Western Powers were responsible for winning the war.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Observer on September 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a thought provoking book. Many of the earlier reviews are excellent and together provide an excellent summary of the main material covered in the book.
John Mosier starts with a strong, unconventional, contrarian and likely controversial premise: Stalin's and the Soviet's accounts of the Great Patriotic War are not to be trusted because of their systemic and pathological distortion of facts and the desire to create additional myths on the merits of Stalin's brand of socialism. Mosier argues that many Western military historians have not been sufficiently critical in their assessments and have relied too heavily on highly questionable Soviet sources of information on casualties and strategic and tactical accounts of major engagements. Mosier makes his case through detailed recounting of casualty rates and equipment loss rates. The astonishing disparity in casualties between the Wehrmacht and the Soviets seems to support this basic contention. The Soviet forces according to Mosier were poorly equipped, poorly trained, poorly maintained, poorly coordinated and, for the most part, poorly led. By comparison, Mosier sees the Wehrmacht as well equipped, well trained, well maintained, well-coordinated and, for the most part, well led.
In Mosier's view both Hitler and Stalin were totally ruthless, but Hitler's war strategy was more coherent while Stalin's was incredibly wasteful of lives and material. Mosier makes a strong case that Hitler's direction of the Eastern Front and his focus on strategic targets, notably the Baku oil fields, as opposed to major cities was militarily reasonable. The facts on the ground seem to support Hitler's notion of a war of attrition - it simply didn't happen fast enough and it could not be sustained once Hitler moved resources to the Western Front.
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