Thirty million men and women served in the Red Army during WWII. Over eight million of them died. Living or dead, they have remained anonymous. This is partly due to the Soviet Union's policy of stressing the collective nature of its sacrifice and victory. It also reflects the continuing reluctance of most Soviet veterans to discuss their experiences—in sharp contrast to German survivors of the Eastern Front. Merridale, professor of history at the University of London, combines interviews, letters and diaries with research in previously closed official archives to present the first comprehensive portrait of the Red Army's fighters. She carefully details the soldiers' age and ethnic diversity, and she puts a human face on a fact demonstrated repeatedly by retired U.S. officer and Soviet military expert David Glantz: the Red Army learned from the experience of its near-collapse in 1941, and by 1945 its soldiers were more than a match for their Wehrmacht opponents. Most poignantly, Merridale reveals that frontline soldiers increasingly hoped their sacrifices would bring about postwar reform—"Communism with a human face." What they got instead was a Stalinist crackdown—and a long silence, broken now by this outstanding book. (Feb.)
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Doing research in the Soviet archives seems like a trying task, but critics revere the work Catherine Merridale did to prepare Ivan's War. The professor from Queen Mary, University of London, conducted over 200 interviews with Soviet veterans and visited major battle sites, but the most enlightening information came from tireless vetting of diaries, transcripts, and officers' reports. That Merridale can plait all this information into "an attempt to fathom war's meaning, effect and legacy" (Foreign Affairs) proves her acuity as a social historian, a skill she displayed previously with the admirable Night of Stone (2002). Only a curious absence of maps mars an otherwise compelling testament to these tragic, unsung warriors.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
For some reason I dislike reading history books written by women. There are too many adjectives, too flowery, too wordy, too lady like, for me. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Michael R. Gautz
Fantastic book about the Russian army during the second world war. I heavily suggest reading it, you wouldn't regret it!Published 15 days ago by Emilio Hernandez
Initially, I thought this book was going to be a collection of stories or even follow the life of a few reoccurring characters. Read morePublished 2 months ago by BMK370
Very Informative. A view of the Russian War view rarely found.Published 3 months ago by C. Bruce Dayton
This is an astonishing book. I have read a great deal of military history, but I have never experienced anything as profound as this. Read morePublished 3 months ago by BWL
A realistic rotate of the typical Russian soldier. Well told,mentertaining and eye opening even to history buffs.Published 3 months ago by John H. Adler
The reviews seem to be all over the place. It may not be possible to write a book about the Red Army of World War II and please more than a slim majority of readers. Read morePublished 5 months ago by lyndonbrecht