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Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945 Paperback – August 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0140271690 ISBN-10: 0140271694 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140271694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140271690
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

As German armies stampeded through the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Nazi politicians and Western statesmen alike predicted the USSR's collapse. In Russia's War, a balanced and acute portrayal of a combat theater that claimed more than 40 million Soviet lives, Richard Overy tells the story of how Stalin and his commanders held off defeat and engineered the most significant military achievement of the Second World War: the destruction of the Wehrmacht.

Russia's War is far from a tale of triumph, as the Russian capacity for resourceful creativity, desperate courage, and raw endurance was matched, if not exceeded, by the brutal oppression of the Soviet system. Overy argues, however, that victory was the result of precisely this uneasy combination. Drawing from extensive archival sources made available in the wake of glasnost, he revises both our conception of the Red Army as a horde that overwhelmed the Germans and the accepted wisdom that Hitler's defeat was the result of strategic bungling and a logistical overreach of the Nazi forces. Perhaps his most poignant contribution is the discussion of the crisis that recent disclosures have provoked in the Russian understanding of the conflict. What was once viewed by the Soviets as the "Great Patriotic War" has become "a crucible of miserable and incomprehensible revelations." In spite of these confusions, Russia's War commences to find significance in a contest that repeatedly disquiets and humbles the historical imagination. --James Highfill


Masterly ... a vivid account -- Robert Service Independent A dramatic and exciting tale ... His set-piece descriptions of such visions of Hell as Stalingrad, the 900-day siege of Leningrad and the crucial battle of Kursk are as fascinating as they are horrifying -- Alan Judd Sunday Times Overy is a first-class military historian ... He writes concisely and says what he means to say ... Now, we have an authoritative British account that understands both sides, without illusions -- Norman Stone Spectator Excellent ... Overy tackles this huge, complex and multifaceted story with the vital gifts of clarity and brevity -- Antony Beevor Literary Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Russian/Soviet history.
Dr. Overys book is a well written analytical as well as narrative of what the Russians referrers to as the `Great Patriotic War'.
The great counterattack of Stalingrad onto the great armored battle of Kursk is related and analyzed.
Richard C. Geschke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on May 18, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a confirmed fan of Overy's work, especially after reading his tome on "Why the Allies Won", in which he carefully examines the real reasons the Allies succeeded in a war that was much more closely contested than many observers appreciate. Here he concentrates on what has to be considered the most unlikely reversal of fortune in 20th century war history, the catastrophic yet also heroically successful defense, repulsion, and vanquishing of the Wehrmacht along a war front that was literally thousands of miles long. Against all odds, losing army after army in the prosecution of the war, with millions of combatants and non-combatants killed, woundeded, or captured from the moment of the opening salvos in the summer and fall of 1941, the Russians' capacity for absorbing unrelenting and murderous punishment at the hands of the brutal assaults of a supremely confident and well-equipped Nazi army stunned the world.
By every account Hitler made exactly the right move at the right time; he had just whipped the French and British armies in western Europe without raising a sweat. Just months before the invasion the Russians had been stopped successfully and quite unexpectedly by a much smaller and more poorly equipped Finn army. Thus, no one expected the Russian army to be able to stop or stem the smashing successes of the Germans some 200 divisions strong as they literally flooded through Poland into Russia in Operation Barbarossa, destroying everything in sight. Yet, with unbelievable determination and equally incomprehensible losses, the Russians eventually began to halt the Wehrmacht advance.
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81 of 85 people found the following review helpful By "michaelgruenenfelder" on September 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
Richard Overy is a professor of modern history at King's College, London. His "Russia's War" is to my (limited) knowledge the first account of the second world war from a Soviet perspecive after the opening of Russian archives. The book is notable for three reasons:
1. Overy's history finely balances detail and overview. He neither clutters the story with endless tales of carnage and missery nor is the brutal horror, unleashed by the Nazi aggressors as well as the Soviets' own regime, missing from the book. On the strategic level, Richard Overy manages to make the reader grasp the few really decisive campaigns in this long and complicated conflict.
2. The key Soviet players come to live. It's not just Stalin (on whom he offers insights, which were new to me) or Georgi Zhukov but also the second tier of national and military leaders. The human side of the Soviet key players and the psychological climate in the Soviet Union comes back to life. He shows what Stalin, Zhukov and the others did to reverse the odds within 18 months.
3. The book doesn't start on 22 June, 1941 and ends on 9 May, 1945. Richard Overy devotes a substantial part of the book to the civil war and the period leading up to the war in Europe. He dicusses to early problems of the regime in the Soviet Union, the foreign aggression against them (e.g. Poland's invasion of Soviet territory in 1920) and the terror of the Stalinist regime before the war which consumed the lives of many millions of Russians, Ukrainians and other nationalities. Also, he describes the immediate period after the war, when Ukrainian rebels continued a bloody campaign into the Fifties.
Last but not least I would like to mention the moderate price. It's imperative reading for the professional historian as well as anybody interested in the subject. Very recommendable indeed!
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful By "sheremet" on February 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
One can't help but compare this book with David Glantz's and Jonathan House's "When Titans Clashed". Both of these works are fairly new, based on newly available material, and attepmpt to capture the Soviet experience in WW2 in one volume (which is hopeless, the conflict was too large for that). The main difference is that where Glantz's book focuses on the military aspects, Overy spends more time on the political and human side of the story.
Apparently, Overy did not spend any time in the archives. You will not find any documents or references to them in this book. It's based mostly on secondary sources. The entire narrative seems to rely too much on various memoirs and biographies, which makes the point of view rather skewed in favor of those players whose memoirs Overy had read.
The resulting quality of the work is uneven. Overy does use new research extensively and dispels many myths. For example, Soviet casualty figures and the number of GULAG's prisoners come from reliable sources based on declassified archival data. On the other hand, Overy puts too much stock in works of dubious revisionists like Boris Sokolov, who provided an alternative view on Soviet casualties and significance of Lend Lease. Where Overy's sources pre-date the opening of Russian archives, old incorrect stereotypes abound.
The books is full of minor and not so minor errors. At first glance it seems there is a mistake every 3-4 pages. For example, Overy claimed that the main attack in Op. Bagration was to come from the 2nd and 3rd Belorussian fronts, when in fact the main blow was delivered by the 1st Belorussian front. There are numerous other military mistakes. There are also many errors related to politics.
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