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Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943: An Operational Narrative Hardcover – July 19, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Zamulin’s fresh new book on Kursk represents the best of recent Russian scholarship on the war and is as close to definitive as possible.” (David M. Glantz)

“Zamulin’s painstaking analysis definitively establishes the Soviet counterattack at Prokhorovka as the decisive event in the Battle of Kursk, and a turning point in the development of the Red Army. Comprehensive scholarship and convincing reasoning, enhanced by an excellent translation, place this work on a level with the best of David Glantz.” (Dennis Showalter, Colorado College)

“…painstakingly researched … perhaps the most accurate look yet at why and how the German offensive failed to meet its objectives… plethora of tables, maps, pictures, including current pictures of the Prokhorovka battlefield, and appendices detailing; German and Soviet comparative strengths, tables of organization and equipment, losses sustained by each side, and more… a true operational history also featuring detailed first person accounts and studiously examining lessons learned; all while providing balanced and well reasoned insight helping the reader to understand how and why events unfolded as they did…..an absorbing read, even for those who consider themselves otherwise well informed on the topic.” (Globe at War)

"In his majestic and provocative book ... Zamulin analyses the real costs and achievements of the Red Army at Kursk, and especially Prokhorovka ... Using an overwhelming and stunning amount of sources, both from German and especially Russian archives as well as from participants in the battle and secondary literature, he paints a vivid and often horrifying picture of the events that occurred ... Zamulin is to be congratulated on writing a highly convincing and thorough analysis of the tank battle at Prokhorovka. By doing so, he indeed demolishes many of the myths that surround that pivotal engagement ... Zamulin has written a book that will be the standard on the Prokhorovka battle for many years to come". (Martijn Lak, Journal of Slavic Military Studies)

“Demolishing the Myth is a much needed and very welcome addition to military-historical writing on the Eastern Front, a refreshing change to the standard Anglo-American-German interpretation of events.” (Dr Steven J Main, DefAc UK, British Army Review)

"I cannot recommend this book too highly ... Scrupulously researched and supplemented by a number of excellent maps and photographs, this work will intrigue and inform serious students of the Eastern Front for years to come." (Richard W. Harrison, The Russian Review)

"It is very difficult to do justice to the level of detail provided in this study... in summary, Zamulin has managed to lift the lid on many of the weaknesses of the Red Army during the Battle of Kursk ... While the casual reader may find the length of the narrative rather daunting, the specialist interested in the history of armored warfare and the Great Patriotic War will delight in it. Yet the significance of this work goes further; it provides a genuine, brave, and honest corrective to the Soviet historiography on the Red Army's efforts at the Battle of Kursk. The publisher, Helion, is to be congratulated for making it available to an English-speaking audience, not least of all given the excellent maps and photographic material which are included." (Alaric Searle, Centre for European Security, University of Salford, reviewing for Global War Studies)

“ … painstakingly researched … to produce perhaps most accurate look yet at why and how the German offensive failed to meet its objectives … an absorbing read, even for those who consider themselves otherwise well-informed on the topic.” (Globe At War)

Review

"Zamulin's fresh new book on Kursk represents the best of recent Russian scholarship on the war and is as close to definitive as possible."-- David M. Glantz

"Zamulin's painstaking analysis definitively establishes the Soviet counterattack at Prokhorovka as the decisive event in the Battle of Kursk, and a turning point in the development of the Red Army. Comprehensive scholarship and convincing reasoning, enhanced by an excellent translation, place this work on a level with the best of David Glantz."-- Dennis Showalter, Colorado College
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Helion Pub (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906033897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906033897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By matt8386 VINE VOICE on July 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book not knowing what the myth was - but I did want to learn more about the Battle of Kursk. Author Valeriy Zamulin grew up and lives near the town of Prokhorovka, and was the Director of Research at the Prokhorovka Battlefield Park Museum for 13 years. This book is packed with data, tables of organization, information regarding weapons, which combat unit served in what area, killed, wounded, how many tanks were operational for each side on what day just to give a few examples. Since it is an operational history, it is a day by day, often hour or minute by minute accounting of the fighting that occurred in the southern attack on the Kursk Bulge from July 5-15th. Specifically, the Voronezh Front where the combat led to the town of Prokhorovka.

So, what is the myth? There are several. For many years after WW2, the Germans and Soviets had an interest to inflate the size and scope of the battle - the Germans to save face from loosing and the Soviets to explain such high losses. Authors such as Martin Caidin, while a fantastic story teller, often did not do the research needed and perpetuated this myth. In more recent years, post cold war, new information has been shed. David Glantz 1999 book The Battle of Kursk is an example. Today, I saw an online article by Michael J. Licari that also attacks the myths of Kursk. Another myth is that the Battle of Prokhorovka was the turning point (not really, the Northern attack had already failed and the Germans had already lost more than they could afford). The issue of the Soviet `counter attack' and who was responsible is explored as well as several others.

Impressive things about this book - research - primary sources.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a remarkable though select study of the battle to reach Kursk from the southern salient. Though demanding and requiring your full attention, an enthusiast could read this operational treasure-trove over and over and never tire of it. It was intriguing but also challenging to read about the same engagement from different perspectives; usually two sometimes three different viewpoints discussed. The fighting on the 12th against the LAH and the 18th and 29th Tank Corps was especially involved. The commentary and analysis is superb and will give the reader a better understanding of the campaign. This book is Russian-centric and it spends more time discussing Soviet plans, assaults and manuvers than on the German perspective.

In the introductory chapters, the author describes the political and military situation in spring 1943 when Hitler and his generals were discussing what the summer offensive should be. The Kursk salient was quickly proposed, debated and then chosen over the objections of some key people. On the Soviet side summer planning was also being debated. The second chapter provides the defensive preparations of the Soviet side for the southern half when it was decided to attack only after the German offensive exhausted itself. Due to the importance of Rotmistrov and his 5th GTA in stopping the 2nd SS PzC, the final chapter before combat coverage begins provides a profile of the General and his Tank Army. The author also explains how Rotmistrov and his Army had just arrived in sector from nearly a 200 mile force march and how he had to cobble an attack plan together when he learned Hausser was much closer to Prokhorovka than expected.
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Format: Hardcover
The author is one of the few scholars who has been able to examine all 60,000 pages of the Soviet era records as well as the relevant German ones covering this critical battle of World War II. His conclusions verify the importance of the Battle of Kursk overall; but in the process, he does demolish the notion that the Germans were ever close to winning it, proving among other things that the German II SS Panzer Corps did not even win the battle's opening round (as has been widely asserted).

He also disabuses us of the assumption (even more widely held) that Kursk was the largest tank battle in history with an often claimed 2500 tanks and self-propelled guns in action. Instead, his careful and meticulously documented analysis of the struggle at Prokhokovka puts the number at no higher than 1100 (670 for the Soviets, 420 for the Germans) showing that Soviet gunners clamed they destroyed far more tanks than the Germans even had in the entire theatre of operations.

Zamulin, however, does give us for the first time, exciting documentation for what was truly the largest tank battle in history: the July 1941 clash between the Soviet Southwestern Front and the 1st Panzer army and elements of the Sixth Army in the Brody-Berestechko-Dubno theatre. In that epic confrontation, he claims, the Russians counter-attacked with 5000 tanks and self propelled guns (of which they lost 2,648) while the Germans used 1000. For two years afterwards, the Germans took observers to the battlefield to show them the miles and miles of terrain filled with destroyed armor.

There are many good combat photos from the battle (most of which I had never seen before), as well as excellent but complicated operational maps which bring the battle to life. Based on a great deal of careful new research, this book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the titanic struggle on the Eastern Front and one of its most decisive battles.
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