THE SOVIET ARMY: 1918 to the Present by Albert & Joan Seaton Seaton

THE SOVIET ARMY: 1918 to the Present

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A detailed military history of the Soviet Army from the Russian Revolution to the present. The Seatons, husband-and-wife collaborators on The Russo-German War: 1941-45, The German Army: 1933-45, and The Horseman of the Steppes, put their expertise to work here in thoroughly dissecting the Russian Army. They begin with a look back at the Red Army's czarist heritage, going back to Peter the Great. The heavily laden class structure of czarist days had resulted in an army devoid of initiative, and by the turn of the century, the Russian field organization was a dim echo of the Prussian's. As observers of the time wrote: ""officers of independence and strong character were persecuted rather than promoted."" After the February, 1917, revolution, the old army rapidly fell apart. Traditional Party doctrine has it that the breakup was caused by czardom, the officers, and the selfishness of Russia's allies. But the Seatons argue that Lenin's Bolsheviks deliberately set out to destroy the imperial army by conspiracy and subversion. Of course, even the Bolsheviks needed an army, and in actuality, the new Red Army resembled closely its hated predecessor. Soon, the demands of civil war raised the new army into a force of five and a half million, including, by necessity, some 48,000 former czarist officers and 214,000 non-corns. By 1926, fervent socialism and internationalism were replaced by jingoistic arrogance, and the ""comrade officers""became typical of officers everywhere else, with their clubs and their privileges. The Seatons' analysis of the Soviet Army during WW II is on the mark: ""One of the many reasons for the Soviet victory in 1941-45 was the heavy industry and the armaments complex that came into being during the two five-year plans. . ."" they write, and they give American Lend-Lease and British material help their due, while demonstrating Stalin's woeful lack as a commander in chief. In fact, the authors are on the mark throughout. After taking us up to the present, they opine that Moscow would never start a nuclear war, for the risks to the USSR are too great, but that they would cow any nation lacking in nuclear weaponry, rendering Western unilateral nuclear disarmament an act of folly. A most informative guide through the secret thickets of the Soviet military.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1987
Publisher: New American Library