From independent historian Beevor (coauthor, Paris After the Liberation, 1994, etc.), a meticulously researched and gripping account of the horrific battle that culminated in the collapse of Adolf Hitler’s blitzkrieg offensive in Russia, and ultimately ordained German defeat in WWII. In June 1941, when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, with a vast surprise attack comprising three large army groups, a quick defeat of the Red Army seemed probable if not inevitable: Germany’s massive blitzkrieg style of war had quickly subjugated Poland and France. But, as Beevor makes clear, Hitler never prepared his army adequately for war with the Russian behemoth, and the blitzkrieg petered out as the Russian winter closed in. Hitler delayed the attack on Moscow, and by the early spring of 1942, when General Friedrich Wilhelm Paulus assumed command of the Sixth Army, the combination of surprise and terror on which the Nazis had depended was lost. Despite strategic victories along the way, the objective, Stalingrad, proved elusive, and after Paulus’s repeated sanguinary assaults against the city proved ineffective, his position became a trap for thousands of German troops, few of whom survived the battle or the rigors of the Soviet gulag. Beevor is evenhanded in his treatment of the two sides: By contrasting the German and Soviet points of view, he conveys the experiences of Axis generals and fighting men (who comprised thousands of Romanian, Hungarian, and disaffected Russians as well as Germans) in the midst of a total war, and those of Soviet soldiers, who had to fear the NKVD and SMERSH, the Soviet intelligence services, as much as the Nazis. A painstakingly thorough study that will become a standard work on the battle of Stalingrad. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection/History Book Club main selection)

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87095-1

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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