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Marshal of Victory: The Autobiography of General Georgy Zhukov Hardcover – April 2, 2014
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About the Author
Professor Geoffrey Roberts is an internationally recognised expert on Stalin, Soviet foreign policy and the Second World War. His publications include Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, Molotov: Stalin's Cold Warrior and Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov.
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Top Customer Reviews
Zhukov’s memoir has the strengths and weakness of the system he so well served. The individual fades into the collective in theory but in practice the collective seems to oversees failures and the individual (Zhukov) manages successes. Equally interesting, the relations of Zhukov to the “Boss” (Stalin) develop as a complex counter point to operational events. While Zhukov’s book may not be the whole story, it is a revealing view of the Eastern Front from the Soviet side.
Geoffrey Roberts also supplies an introduction that details the development of Zhukov’s book. There was a lengthy period when Zhukov tried to get his memoirs published and then there was an extensive editing process by the Soviet publisher. When the Soviet system disappeared, these cuts became available and the question arises, what is the “real” book? For many reasons, Roberts decided that the final 1985 official Soviet version represents the best text. However, he itemizes the cuts in his introduction and he adds two of Zhukov’s writings that the general wrote for “the desk drawer”. These are presented as appendences: “Briefly about Stalin” and “After the Dearth of Stalin”. The “Briefly” text describes in some detail interactions with Stalin during a time of crises and “After the Death” describes Zhukov’s involvement in the center of the Soviet government when Stalin died.
All in all, this is an important book about the Great Patriotic War.
There is lots of good information in the book about almost all of the major operations in the war, along with personal anecdotes, insights about personalities, etc. I also found the portions of the book about his upbringing and postwar fate to be very interesting.
Finally, at least until the last couple of chapters, the level of propagandizing is fairly minimal--while Zhukov often praises the communist party for its role during the war, most of it seems sincere rather than forced by censors. And zhukov's attitudes toward the western allies and their war efforts seem to be a common russian perspective about these issues, even today.
Overall a highly recommended read for those interested in the russian front.
Zhukov is open about numerous mistakes made by Russian leadership (including his own) during the war. The parts of the book that I liked the most were when he would do a post mortem analysis of a battle and then reflect on what went wrong and how they could have done better and what general lesson could be learned from the experience. Unfortunately you have to suffer through too many tributes to socialism to get to those moments. He was not self-promoting at all, was never defensive about his errors, and always emphasized collaboration in the war effort.
This book does have its dramatic moments, I will comment on my review to provide some more details that I consider noteworthy. I gave the book 4 stars because you can tell there was censorship, I cannot overlook the total lack of mention about the purges and only one passing reference to war time execution of generals. Since this book is about the Red army's command performance, I consider this omission unpardonable so he gets a demerit here. I would think that purges and execution would have a serious effect on officers and I would have been very interested to hear what Marshal Zhukov thought on the matter and how it affected him.
To the Dust bin of History. Just read Stalingrad--it's here on Amazon. That was a great book.