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Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 Paperback – May 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 defenses 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140284583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140284584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A regular in the 11th Hussars, Antony Beevor served in Germany and England. He has had a number of books published and his book Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. Among the many prestigious posts he holds, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Customer Reviews

I'm primed now to read Beevors work on the closing battle of World War II, "Berlin".
Beevor's book is an excellent account of the human aspect of the battle of Stalingrad as well as the political hubris swirling around this historic battle.
Carey J. Nelson
The book reads a lot like a novel with the narrative often switching between locations and people.
George Coppedge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 165 people found the following review helpful By Mr Craig Meech on June 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
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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146 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Chapin on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
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 down. I usually read three or four books at a time but could not with Stalingrad as it became my sole concern until it was finished. Beevor makes use of outstanding primary source materials and his narrative technique makes one feel as if you have secret access to the innermost recesses of the minds of Chuikov, Paulus, Zhukov, von Manstein, and, of course, Hitler and Stalin. It reminded me of the old PBS documentary,
"Battleground" for the way in which it flowed. Buy it,I guarantee you won't regret it.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This subject has inspired a good deal of writing, including several one volume works. Beevor's is probably the best. Based on an extensive review of the prior literature, original archival research, and interviews, Beevor has produced a very readable overview of the battle of Stalingrad. Beevor is a very good writer who integrates telling anecdotes seamlessly into narrative giving the gist of situations. He sets the stage well with astute chapters on the Eastern Front conflict up to Stalingrad and does an excellent job of describing both the command level decisions and the essential horrors of combat in Stalingrad. Many aspects covered well in this volume, such as the roles of the NKVD and Soviet deserters, are not dealt with well in other volumes. This is not a blow by blow account of the campaign and may disappoint some readers who expect highly traditional detailed military history. Beevor's judgements are dispassionate, humane, and backed by careful consideration of the evidence. My only criticism is that the book would have benefited from more maps with better detail.
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88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Several months ago, I reviewed (5 stars) a novel entitled WAR OF THE RATS, ostensibly based on the factual battlefield achievements of the real-life, Soviet Army master sniper, Vasily Zaitsev, during the German siege of Stalingrad during World War II. Wishing to learn more about this horrific struggle, I sought out this book, STALINGRAD, a narrative history of the fight authored by Antony Beevor.
STALINGRAD begins, as it must, on June 21, 1941 with the launching of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union by three Army Groups - North, Center and South. Beevor first summarizes from a wide perspective Army Group Center's attack on, and repulse from, Moscow, and Army Group South's surge towards the Volga River and the Caucasus Mountains. Then, the focus is narrowed onto the Sixth Army's and Fourth Panzer Army's drive to Stalingrad and the Volga in the summer of `42. The last three-quarters of the volume then limits itself to the Stalingrad siege, the Soviet counterattack on, and encirclement of, the Sixth and Fourth Panzer armies, their subsequent subjugation, and, finally, the fate of the 91,000 Germans taken prisoner. The main characters of the drama are all brought onto the stage: Hitler, Paulus, Schmidt, von Richthofen, Stalin, Zhukov, Yeremenko, Chuikov, and Rokossovsky.
This is a very reader-friendly account for the simple reason that the author supplies enough information, including maps, to keep the narrative moving along without getting bogged down in the minutiae of minor troop movements and a superabundance of unit designations. He's also included (in the paperback edition) two adequate sections of photographs - always a much appreciated touch. The volume met, if not exceeded, my expectations, and I learned a lot.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Dennis J. Buckley on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having read many works concerning Stalingrad, I suspect that we may be approaching the point where a definitive, detailed, multi-volume history of the great battle could be possible. Indeed, this should probably be attempted before the surviving veterans all pass on. That being said, this is a very acceptable single volume account of the Stalingrad campaign. It compares favorably with Craig's work, _Enemy at the Gates_.
One of the strengths of Beevor's work is his view of the Russian side of the struggle. This is attained through access to now available Soviet archives. It is also attained through the greater willingness of Russian veterans to speak of their experiences without the distorting rhetoric often associated with The Great Patriotic War. The candid discussion of desertion and outright collaboration on the part of some Russian soldiers forms one of the most interesting aspects of this book. Likewise, the fate of approximately 85,000 German soldiers who entered Soviet captivity never to return is treated with even greater detail than that revealed by Craig. Again, I suspect that Beevor enjoyed access to records-- and candor-- that Craig and earlier writers did not.
While I do not completely agree with all of Beevor's conclusions, he makes a convincing case for the primary responsibility of Paulus for the destruction of the Sixth Army through failure to maintain an uncommitted panzer reserve in the late fall of 1942. This failure on the part of a commander is too often ignored in works which blame the destruction of the Sixth Army on Hitler's "stand fast" order and von Manstein's failure to send a "breakout" order.
Students of the campaign should add this volume to their library.
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