The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942
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A meticulous, scholarly study of one of the great land battles of WWII, from from the founder of the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office and editor of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies. Marshal Georgy Zhukov has long been considered one of the exceptional Soviet generals of WWII, the hero of the Siege of Stalingrad who brilliantly encircled the German attacking army and obliterated it. Despite this victory and Zhukov’s drive to be the first Soviet general to conquer Berlin, his career in the “Great Patriotic War” was not without its setbacks. Primary of these was Operation Mars, in November 1942. Mars was the companion to the Soviet counterattack at Stalingrad (code-named Operation Uranus) and was key to Soviet attempts to regain the offensive. Glantz’s writing of the history of the campaign, while thick with facts and figures, is unassailable. By pulling apart German and Russian reports and communications, as well as later histories, he creates the definitive account of the battle. He assesses the reasons for the failure, which include improper artillery support, poor training of such critical elements as tank crews, a Red Army that lacked winter clothing, and the necessity (due to the high personnel losses in the army) of using officers who had earlier been judged unfit for service. Though most of this prodigious book is filled with the details of strategy and counterstrategy, there are points at which the fascinating characters of Zhukov and his officers shine through and offer a compelling narrative. Top-end scholarship that is too dense for all but the most dedicated aficionados of the Soviet-German conflict. Nonetheless, an important study that should rest on the shelf next to last summer’s brilliant, and more readable, Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. (photos, maps, not seen) (History Book Club Main selection)

Pub Date: April 28th, 1999
ISBN: 0-7006-0944-X
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999