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Hardcover Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad Book

ISBN: 1568523688

ISBN13: 9781568523682

Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad

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Book Overview

The bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, Stalingrad was perhaps the single most important engagement of World War II. A major loss for the Axis powers, the battle for Stalingrad signaled the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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Stalingrad-View From Ground Level

For most people in the West, the War between German and Russia 1941-45 is the "Unknown War". Thanks to movies like "The Longest Day", "A Bridge Too Far", and many others, the impression is gained that the United States and Britain carried the bulk of the war against Nazi Germany, but the fact is that 3/4 of the entire strength of the German Wehrmacht was destroyed by the USSR's Red Army. Although many fine books have been written in the US and Britain about this war, most of them have been written more for people who already have a strong background in WWII, but this book makes the story of battle marking the turning point of the war, Stalingrad, accessible to the general public. The book is written in a form that was made popular in the 1960's and 1970's bringing vignettes both from the political and military leaders as well as the experiences of ordinary people caught up in the maelstrom. Famous encounters in the engagement such as the "Battle of the Grain Elevator" or "Pavlov's House" are described, bringing the horror of the "rattenkrieg" (rat's war) in the ruins of the city to the reader. Craig points out how the indescriminate bombing of the city as a prelude to the German attack which killed tens of thousands of civilians including the deliberate strafing of columns of civilians trying to flee to the east bank of the Volga river ended up backfiringon the Germans, enabling the Soviet defenders to turn the rubble into improvised fortresses forcing the Germany's vaunted Sixth Army into fighting house-to-house, cellar to cellar, street to street, and sometimes room to room, something they were unused to, coming from successful blitzkrieg, mobile warfare, campaigns. He also points out that in spite of the fact that the German army was famous for discipline, when the German pocket (the "kessel") was in danger of falling to the Soviets, many soldiers made self-inflicted wounds in order to be flown out or they would defy orders and storm the waiting aircraft, even though they had not been given permissionto be evacuated.. A couple of items should be mentioned as corrections to the book, however. First of all, Craig calls Sixth Army commander Friedrich von Paulus, but Paulus came from a family that was not part of the Prussian Military aristocracy, so "von" was not part of his name. Secondly, this book was written in the early 1970's, before the fall of the Communist regime. Antony Beevor has written another popular-style book about Stalingrad based on research done since then and he brings new facts to light. Among them is his skepticism about the famous duel that was believed to occur between Soviet master sniper Vassily Zaitsev and the German Konings. Although this story was circulated for many years and Craig recounts in this book, Beevor says there is reason to doubt whether it really occurred (this story forms the backdrop of the movie with the same title of this book, which is not really based on the book, unfortunately). In summary, I

The Futility of War...

It seems like every book I read on warfare makes me realize one central theme: Thousands upon thousands of soldier's lives are sacrificed by overzealous military leaders like Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin...case in point: The battle of Stalingrad. I thoroughly enjoyed Craig's book on this famous, yet rarely covered battle of WWII. Most Westerners and the world for that matter, are fed large doses of reading related to D-Day, Pearl Harbor, etc. etc. Significant, history altering battles like Stalingrad are rarely given much light..I considered myself a learned scholar of WWII until I read this book...I then realized I really didnt have the "complete" picture of WWII like I thought...What I really like about the book was the reader gets to see both sides of the war from the Red Army and Germans perspectives. In the beginning of the book, we relate to the Soviet's tales of horror as the invading German soldiers plunder and pillage their motherland...however, as the tide of the battle turns, we read how the Germans become the victims of the enclosing Soviet armies. I really liked how Craig got deep into the doomed German soldier's mind-set as they came closer and closer to annhialation. The reader really starts to see the German soldier as just another human being like you and I....a farmer from Dresden, a school teacher from Cologne, a mechanic from Stutgart...the list goes on...we really see the German soldiers for what they were, decent men just following orders. Dont get me wrong, there were plenty of Germans who committed such terrible atocities that they do not deserve to be called human beings. On, the flip-side, we see that many of the Soviet soliders themselves were no less brutal than their German counterparts...shooting surrendering soldiers, marching them to death camps, torture etc. etc...in short, we learn that war brings out the worst in man: German, Soviet or otherwise...I did catch one reoccuring theme in this book, similar to what I have seen in other great WWII books (see books by Ambrose): Adolph Hitler was a terrible military leader who killed thousands of his soldiers because his ego did not let him think rationally...Hitler's famous fallacy of forcing his policy of not giving up an inch of conquered land cost the lives of thousands of German soldiers not only in Russia, but France during D-Day. Therefore, Hitler not only was a racist lunatic, but also a piece of crap military tactician. Stalin was no less, as he ordered thousands of his men to suicidal charges against the German army and even resorted to killing thousands of his own men out of paranoia. All in all, Enemy at the Gates is a must read for anyone wanting to get the complete picture of WWII. Stalingrad was truly the battle that turned the tide of WWII. From there on, Germany fought a downhill battle...The movie was excellent (a little Hollywooded out of course), but portrayed the horror of the war through both a German and Soviet Sniper...go see it and read the bo

A superbly interesting read on WWII's most costly battle

While most Americans tend to think of WWII mostly in terms of our losses, the Russians lost millions of citizens, both military and civilian, in the war. The Battle of Stalingrad was pivotal in the war; it turned the tide against the Germans and forced them to eventually fight a two-front war that they could not win. Had Stalingrad folded, the war might very well have ended with Hitler on the winning side. This book reads like "The Longest Day" (Cornelius Ryan) of the Stalingrad battle, with first person accounts from both the German and Russian sides sewn together into an excellent narrative that holds your attention. One of the stories in this book has been turned into the current (2001) movie of the same title. It concerns the battle between a Russian sniper who starts a sniper school in Stalingrad; his students go on to exact a huge toll on the Germans. In response, the Germans fly in their own master sniper to "take out" the Russian. The two snipers stalk each other among the ruins of the city, with the loser to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. The book, however, covers much more ground. If you've seen the movie and want more on the sniper duel, read "War of the Rats" by David Robbins, a fictionalized account of the real-life events that is riveting. Read "Enemy at the Gates" if you want the full view of the battle. I recommend both accounts as superb books worthy of your time and money.

The movie should have been based on this book!

"Enemy at the Gates" is out of print, but it shouldn't be a problem to locate a copy at a library. It is worth the trouble! This was the first book to put a human face on the Battle of Stalingrad. Because the account was compiled from interviews and memoirs of participants, the book often reads like an exciting novel. In this respect, it closely resembles Andrew Tully's or Cornelius Ryan's accounts of the Battle of Berlin. When I learned of the upcoming film "Enemy at the Gates", I was ecstatic to think that this excellent book would at long last come to the big screen! Alas, only the title is taken from "Enemy at the Gates" -- the screenplay is based on David Robbins' novel "War of the Rats". The movie's focus will be on the historically dubious sniper battle and the hysterically bogus romantic interest. What a pity. For the real flavor of Stalingrad, get the real "Enemy at the Gates" and Antony Beevor's "Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege".
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