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The 900 Days: The Siege Of Leningrad 2nd Edition

4 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0306812989
ISBN-10: 0306812983
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Editorial Reviews


"A reminder that wars are messy and require the greatest resolve." -- Bookviews.com January 2004

About the Author

Harrison E. Salisbury is the author of American in Russia, Moscow Journal, and other books.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 650 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 2nd edition (September 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306812983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306812989
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Few events in the annals of modern history compare to the saga of the terrifying siege of Leningrad for almost three years by the German Wehrmacht during World War Two. In this classic historical work, "The 900 Days" written by long-time New York Times correspondent and editor Harrison Salisbury, the incredible toll in terms of blood, sweat and tears of the millions of Russian protagonists trapped by the Nazis in the city is told. The story is told in such a graphic and moving fashion that the individuals involved are portrayed from a common sense, human perspective, in terms of describing breathing, struggling individuals locked into a living nightmare, each of them having to make a titanic effort day after day just to endure the hardships and survive.
The scale of the siege itself boggles the mind; some three million residents and soldiers were encircled and entrapped at the beginning of the Nazi incursion into Russia in Operation Barbarossa, intensifying with a ruthless German offensive in early October of 1941 that literally strangled the lifeline for food and critical supplies from the embattled urban area. Of those trapped, almost half succumbed, and most of these fatalities were in a relatively brief period of time, commencing with the events of October 1941 and climaxing in early April of 1942. People starved, froze, drowned, were run over by tanks, walked into mine fields, succumbed to a wide range of diseases, were murdered by German soldiers, and sometimes were caught in artillery fire. In all, almost one and one half million people were lost during the siege.
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Format: Paperback
This is still the definitive work about the human tragedy of the Blockade of Leningrad. The background and military strategy are interesting and important, but the chronicle of the civilian suffering is gut-wrenching and unforgetable. It's been more than a dozen years since I read this, but certain scenes still remain with me: The diary of a little girl whose entire family starved to death. The heroic Young Pioneers and Komsomols hauling water by hand from the frozen Neva to the bakeries. The meager rations of the "bread", baked from sawdust and nearly undigestable. The poet who made a "meat jelly" from her neighbor's leather briefcase. The elderly man who was driven by starvation to eat his beloved pet cat, then afterward hanged himself in his home. The dead, frozen in their beds where they lay and in the streets where they fell, pulled on children's sleds by emaciated relatives, stacked like logs at the cemetery gate, where the ground was too frozen to dig. The silent, cold-eyed "cannibals" in the market selling the ubiquitous ground-meat patties which buyers hoped were dog, rat, or horsemeat. The desperate and dangerous Road of Life over the frozen Lake Ladoga, established and traveled under fire... Only the extraordinary endurance and efforts of the citizens saved Leningrad. Hitler's plan was to erradicate the city and its people. Stalin was perfectly willing to sacrifice them. St. Petersburg still bears the scars from the seige that lasted nearly three years. "Let no one forget. Let nothing be forgotten." Ironically, the human tragedy appears to be repeating itself today in Grozny.
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't nearly so impressed by this work as I had expected and hoped to be. The theme is extraordinary, the two great Western totalitarian powers square off over the fate of a city of enormous historical significance (it was the seat of the Russian Revolution) and geographical significance (it was either the first or last Western city depending on which direction you're facing).
The book might better have been titled "Scenes from 900 Days" and if it were titled that or, better, written with the intention of being that, it might have been a great book. But the book aspired to be history and, because of that, it ought to have been more coherent. The reader gets a lot of the deprivation and misery among the ever dwindling Leningrad residents. And, in describing that, Salisbury is at his best. His descriptions are passionate and human without being mawkish. However, the military element of the siege (an important part -- if the Germans hadn't brought guns and artillery and all the other accoutrements of war along, the situation would have been more than just a littledifferent) is badly handled. We know that, at times, the Germans and Russians fought in places like Mga, but Salisbury rarely makes it clear why or how. The geography of the region remains a complete mystery. The two included maps were of little help and Salisbury wasn't particularly interested in describing the area or the significance of particular geographical features. There is precious little description of combat and either none or almost none of battlefields, strategies, tactics, and the like. The manner in which the Germans laid the siege is all but absent, so it becomes virtually impossible to figure out how the Russians would have or could have lifted it.
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