ARMOR AND BLOOD by Dennis E. Showalter


The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II
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Meticulous account of the July 1943 tank battle between the Red Army and the Wehrmacht, perhaps the largest such battle in history.

Showalter (History/Colorado Coll., Hitler’s Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare, 2009, etc.) goes far toward rescuing the Battle of Kursk from undeserved obscurity. In early 1943, the Germans planned a major campaign to eliminate the Soviet salient around the city of Kursk that had resulted from the Wehrmacht's retreat after the Battle of Stalingrad. Preparing to attack both sides of the salient, each several hundred miles long, required immense movements of armies, equipment and aircraft; the launch was repeatedly delayed by supply problems, changes, and quarrels between Hitler and his often skeptical generals. Tipped off months in advance of the attack, the Soviets used the time to construct vast defensive works more than 100 miles deep, a maze of minefields, anti-tank guns, strong points and artillery. German forces attacked, advanced and suffered terrible losses; they inflicted far worse losses on the Soviet defenders but never broke through. Within weeks, Red Army counterattacks recovered the lost ground. Showalter emphasizes that Kursk capped the Red Army’s two years of painful education in tactics, logistics and air-to-ground cooperation. While it never matched the Wehrmacht's efficiency (nor did the other Allied armies), it functioned well enough to seize the initiative; the Battle of Kursk was Germany’s last operational offensive in Russia. The author mostly describes large unit actions and command decisions, although an astute introduction and conclusion put it all into perspective.

Showalter clearly knows his subject, but the avalanche of battle details, tactics and unit maneuvers will appeal to military buffs more than general readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6677-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2013


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