Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad by William CraigStalingrad, the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, cost the lives of nearly two million men and women. It signaled the beginning of the end for the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler; it foretold the Russian juggernaut that would destroy Berlin and make the Soviet Union a superpower. As Winston Churchill characterized the result of the conflict at Stalingrad: the hinge of fate had turned.
William Craig, author and historian, has painstakingly recreated the details of this great battle: from the hot summer of August 1942, when the German armies smashed their way across southern Russia toward the Volga River, through the struggle for Stalingrad-a city Hitler had never meant to capture and Stalin never meant to defend-on to the destruction of the supposedly invincible German Sixth Army and the terror of the Russian prison camps in frozen Siberia. Craig has interviewed hundreds of survivors of the battle-both Russian and German soldiers and civilians-and has woven their incredible experiences into the fabric of hitherto unknown documents. The resulting mosaic is epic in scope, and the human tragedy that unfolds is awesome.
Enemy at the Gates
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Of all the many battles fought by the soldiers of Czarist and Soviet Russia, only two perhaps might be ranked as fundamentally decisive, in that they not only changed the fate of the nation but also altered its destiny. Take a city such as Pittsburgh with its steel mills, factories, office buildings, houses and apartments, bring it under intensive aerial bombing and sustained ground attack by armored, motorized and infantry divisions, feverishly transform those same massive factories into fortresses and frenziedly convert each block, house, apartment, room, basement and street corner into separate strong points and, finally, throw in more than a million men to fight for five months amidst this stupefying devastation. So it was that the prelude to the battle for Stalingrad proved to be long and complicated. Only in July, , with Soviet defenses in the south in vast disarray but not wholly overcome, did Stalingrad move suddenly to the center of the picture, when Hitler's Directive No. The pace quickened inexorably, and throughout August German armor and infantry closed on the city, as from Aug. Of the two defending Soviet armies, the 64th and the 62d, it was Chuikov's 62d which took over the inner defense, drawing the full German fire. But there was no immediate Soviet triumph.
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Not Antony Beevor's account of Stalingrad, the book that led the current cult of chill all those copies on the bedside tables of centrally heated homes , but Craig's better, spare narrative based on s interviews with survivors - those few there were. Horribly aware of cock-ups consignments of cellophane covers for grenades, but no grenades and compassionate to both sides. For the hatreds of panzers and snipers, Nazi assaulters and Soviet defenders of the ruined city were not so terrible as the implacable contempt of the Russian winter for all life, so that there came to be a question asked half in Russian, half in German: " Skolco kaput? Buy it BOL. A TV-series backup: irresistibly juxtaposing propaganda artwork - "the battle of Isandhlwana as it probably never was" - with shots of debris and carnage where available in picture archives. But the text is more problematic , as it has been themed - arrogantly inept command, underestimating the enemy credit here for including the Balangiga massacre, a not-much-noted US catastrophe in the Philippines , over-reliance on technology - as if disasters were always precipitated by single definable causes, about which we can now moralise, wise after the event.