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The story of the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union on the Ostfront is itself so incredible and full of extremes of human experience on a scale that most modern people can't comprehend, that even a dry historic account will still hit you in the gut. Beevor's writing certainly is a bit dry (as is the audiobook narration), but he conveys the triumphant hubris of the the German war machine as it grinds through an ill-prepared Soviet Army hampered by its own paranoid leader, the desperate fight-to-the-death brutality of the siege of Stalingrad, the last Russian stronghold before the Volga, the monstrosity of two totalitarian states willing to sacrifice millions of their own citizens to their authority, and finally, the collapse of the German army before a population that it could kill vast numbers of, but not defeat.
Beevor is sympathetic enough to soldiers on both sides, and besides the requisite facts and figures, there are plenty of episodes of heroism from individual Russians and Germans, as well as bad decisions and senseless waste of life. All in all, it was a tragic but page-turning reminder to me of just how little we Americans really know about war and the price that's paid for "uncompromising" leaders.
There are probably more detailed and/or engagingly written accounts of World War Two's Eastern Front, but this book contains a perfectly readable history for anyone looking for a place to start. (PS. If you're still hungry for a fantastic, listenable account of the Ostfront, look up Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcast.)
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
There are two versions of the book floating around.
This one, is abridged and is VERY poorly read. The inflection, the cynicism, etc are ALL gone.
The one by Michael Tudor Barnes is unabridged is lively and excellent to listen.
Audible needs to provide that version.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful