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War of the Rats

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,609 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
For six months in 1942, Stalingrad is the center of a titanic struggle between the Russian and German armies—the bloodiest campaign in mankind's long history of warfare. The outcome is pivotal. If Hitler's forces are not stopped, Russia will fall. And with it, the world....

German soldiers call the battle Rattenkrieg, War of the Rats. The combat is horrific, as soldiers die
Paperback, 512 pages
Published June 6th 2000 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1999)
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86th out of 773 books — 1,285 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,651)
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Jeff Dawson
Jun 19, 2012 Jeff Dawson rated it it was amazing

I read this when it first came out in 2000. It was an excellent read then and has lost nothing. Many of us have read the historical accounts of the massive Soviet counter-offensive on November 19,1942 and the encirclement of the 6th Army.

Mr. Robbins doe an excellent job in describing not only the supposed duel between Zaitsez and Thorvald (which is still being debated by historians) but his ability to paint the picture of a city ravaged by the opposing forces is phenomenal. He puts you
Feb 17, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok
I've been trying to branch out in my reading lately, and every time I do, I get reminded why I don't.

The reason I like science fiction and fantasy is that it tends to obey Eleanor Roosevelt's dictum - "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - and chooses to discuss ideas above all else. 'War of the Rats' ought to at least succeed at the level of discussing an important event and fascinating people, but it doesn't even manage to do that well.

Jul 05, 2009 Becky rated it liked it
Finally I have read a novel by my former creative writing professor! I can stop feeling guilty now.

Wasn't sure if I would enjoy it because it is a war novel, but it is actually a love story masquerading as a war novel - kind of. Also it was about tactics, survival, humanity, good and evil, and some very good characters.

Yet at the same time, by the end, I found myself a little perplexed regarding what it was about - it both began long before and ended after the supposed central conflict of the no
Victor Bruneski
Apr 30, 2015 Victor Bruneski rated it liked it
If you ever seen the movie, Enemy at the Gates, this book's premise is going to sound familiar to you. Of course, there is a logical explanation for that, as it is based on a true story...or it could have just been Soviet propaganda, but it's based on something.

There are four main characters, two Russians and two Germans. The Russian snipers are certainly real. Vasily Zaytsev became famous during World War 2 in the Battle of Stalingrad, the bloodiest battle of the war. He was so successful as a
Emma Sarantopoulos
Jul 30, 2015 Emma Sarantopoulos rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 20, 2014 DR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nowadays, WAR OF THE RATS is best remembered as the basis for the big-budget movie “Enemy At The Gates” (2001) starring Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes and the great, recently deceased Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev. Both novel and film are loosely based on the career of Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev (242 confirmed “kills”--the actual total is probably near to 500). Largely because he lived a celebrated life until his death in 1991 and had ample time to write his memoirs, Zaytsev is one of ...more
May 20, 2015 Chrisl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After listening to an audio version, I also enjoyed reading the print version of the Stalingrad sniper duel. The book ending interview on tape of one of the primary characters was a pleasant surprise and encouraged the print read. Would comparison to the controversial Sniper movie have many points of comparison?

Among my favorite "war stories" and a book to read again.

Review copies from Publishers Weekly :

"Set in the rubble of Stalingrad during WWII, Robbins's second novel hinges on a dramatic ma
Dec 02, 2008 Eric_W rated it really liked it
By 1942, the war against Russia had resolved itself to the outcome of one battle: that for Stalingrad. The Russians refused to budge and made the Germans pay for every foot of bombed-out city. The horrible bombing and shelling by the Germans turned the city into an enormous maze of dens and hiding places, perfect for snipers. The Russians created a special group of talented snipers who managed to put fear into the German soldiers. In response, the Germans sent a sniper whose job it was to find t ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Stefan rated it really liked it
War of the Rats by David L. Robbins is a solid, readable, well researched narrative of the battle of Stalingrad. I've read several books on Stalingrad and found that for the most part, Robbins tried to create a historically consistent environment and setting. The characters in this book are well created, and since Robbins is a good writer, you feel somewhat attached to the protagonist. I also felt somewhat sympathetic for the German intelligence officer, Nikki, and thought Robbins did a good job ...more
Jason Goodman
Sep 13, 2013 Jason Goodman rated it liked it
Robbins book had an uncanny parallel to the award winning movie " Enemy at the Gates," which was apparent throughout the novel. Stalingrad was a battle of two large armies and two even bigger ego's, there was a shortage of everything except death, that was everywhere and at anytime. What tended to bother me was the injection of a war/love story into the middle of this gruesome tale. Picture the surroundings, a blasted out basement with a dirt floor, freezing cold, lice, very little food and a ma ...more
Jun 27, 2010 Nic rated it it was amazing
Yes I did just give five stars to a war novel. What has gotten into me?

I loved this book. That's quite something, coming from a person of notoriously squishy sensibilities whose last encounter with what you might call a war novel was a required reading of The Killer Angels in tenth grade.

The writing was beautiful and poignant, the plot hooked me, the characters moved me, the well-researched historical details fascinated me. None of the characters is a wanton, laughing killer, as I think I'd fear
May 09, 2013 Kriegslok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprisingly good read. David Robbins has done an excellent job at crafting a very moving and human story from the hellish nightmare of the Battle of Stalingrad. Taking the real life biographies of a number of key actors Robbins delivers a fast paced story of a desperate battle to repel the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, a story with an eye for detail and realisim with some of the descriptions of injury suceeding in turning my stomach. Having recently visited Volgagrad/Stalingrad the place ...more
Ms. Feigen's English 9 Classes Feigen
War of the Rats by David Robbins may be the best book that I've ever read. I love historical fiction, particularly war-based books, and this was perfect for me. It excited me from the first minute to the last. Not only, though, did I love this book, I thought it was extremely effective. It was researched as well as many non-fiction books. The sniper battle between Vasily Zaitsev, or "the hare," and Heinz Thorvald, "the schoolmaster," actually happened. Robbins has sources to back him up. For exa ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, military
A great read, certainly better than the movie inspired by it (Enemy at the Gates) with a lot more detail on Tania and some of the other characters who don't do much in the movie. The book (and the movie as well) certainly do a good job highlighting just how incredibly driven (often by their own side's bullets) the Russians were to defend Stalingrad, and how hellish and strategically blockheaded urban warfare is, a lesson militaries never seem to learn.
Jun 16, 2015 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in war novels, WWII, or Russian history
War of the Rats presents readers with a flow of information regarding the WWII German/Russian battle for Stalingrad, then takes on a life of its own in spinning the tale of Zaytsev, one of the most celebrated snipers in history. The prose is clear and poignant; the characters are developed and realistic. The plot urges readers to progress faster - what will happen next? How will things end between Tania and Zaytsev? Will they survive?

The ending stayed true to real life. Though David L. Robbins
Jun 15, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it
The battle of Stalingrad remains one of the epic events of the Second World War, celebrated and retold in many languages. The story of the sniper Vasiliy Zaitsev is an important element of that story today even as it was at the time of the battle. Many people will remember the film “Enemy at the Gates” which featured a version of Zaitsev’s story as its central story line and which I too appreciated. “War of the Rats” also prominently features Vasiliy Zaitsev and the other snipers of Stalingrad a ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Zac rated it it was amazing
Great Historical Novel...WWII , Stalingrad, and a sniper duel.
Don Halpert
Oct 11, 2015 Don Halpert rated it really liked it
This is a true story of the battle of Stalingrad. The author takes some liberties with characters and story flow, but the essence of the story remains. It's a battle between two sharpshooters - German and Russian. The movie was good too, but it only follows the basic story, not the detail of the book.
Against the background of the greatest battle in the history of warfare, the story is a classic contest between the two best sharpshooters on both sides. It is a good portrayal of the senseless slau
Sep 07, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: will-read-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David L. Robbins’s novel War of the Rats tells the story of the siege of Stalingrad from a very personal nature. One character sets the tone by asking, “Will this war overlook nothing? Is it beginning to hunt for us now by name, one at a time?”. The story centers around four viewpoint characters- two Russian, two German, and tells the story of how the battle for the city became a battle between two snipers.

The first part of the book introduces the reader to the stories’ four main characters-
Aug 11, 2009 Mazel rated it liked it

Depuis six mois, Stalingrad est le siège d'un affrontement titanesque entre les armées soviétique et allemande.

C'est la bataille la plus sanglante de l'histoire de l'humanité. Les soldats allemands l'ont baptisée " la guerre des rats ".

Son issue sera décisive : si les troupes hitlériennes l'emportent, c'est la Russie entière qui tombera. Et, avec elle, le monde entier...

L'affrontement est acharné, les progressions se mesurent en mètres, chaque maison fait l'objet de corps à corps impito
Feb 11, 2009 Seth rated it liked it
Shelves: military-fiction
The battle of Stalingrad... a brutal turning point on the eastern front of World War II. More than a million and a quarter German soldiers were killed and one great russian sniper triumped over his german counterpart in a deadly duel of eyes and wits. In one arena of historical entertainment you have this novel, in another you have the hollywood film "Enemy at the gates" both stories involve many of the same charachters who were real people/ although where the truth in their action lies is proba ...more
Sep 22, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it
This book is another telling of the story of Vasily Zaitsev, the real life Russian sniper who's uncanny instinct and marksmanship earned him 'hero' status during the grueling battle of Stalingrad. It's a great read, full of suspense and semi-decent character development, but Robbins falls short as a fiction writer in my view. He is clearly a historian at heart, so while I did appreciate the historical accuracy of the novel, the writing was not impressive. Most of his forays into literary devises ...more
E Wilson
Apr 14, 2010 E Wilson rated it really liked it

This was another book that I would never have chosen to read, but was
in the lot of used books on tape that I bought. Again, I ended up
really liking the book.

I'd heard about the battle of Stalingrad being one of the most
horrible and deadliest battles of World War II. This story
made it all too real with details of the suffering on both sides. There were some graphic descriptions of battle , but there were
also insights into the feelings and lives of the characters.

This book showed the humanity an
Oct 23, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it
The best German sniper and the best Russian sniper of WWII are sent to hunt each other in Stalingrad. Meanwhile Stalingrad is starving during the Russian winter, except for the prostitutes who, as always, prosper when soldiers are around. Amid shelling, cannibalism, starvation, prostitution and disease, the two snipers hunt each other down.

According to an interview of the author I heard on NPR, when he was writing the book in the 1990s, he actually went to Russia to interview the Russian sniper
Dec 20, 2010 Kelanth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guerra, favorites
Per comprendere meglio questo libro bisogna fare una premessa e cioè cosa fu realmente la battaglia di Stalingrado. Fu una delle peggiori carneficine della seconda guerra mondiale, sei mesi di battaglie cruente con un milione di morti durante il periodo estate 1942, febbraio 1943. Questa battaglia fu la prima vera sconfitta della Germania Nazista contro l'Armata Russa. Da questo libro fu tratto anche un bellissimo film "Il Nemico alle Porte" con un giovane Jude Law e un grandissimo Ed Harris. Il ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club, fiction
This is a fictional story based on actual events and people, which always increases my interest and involvement in a book. It covers the history surrounding the battle and the duel that took place there (two master snipers, one German, one Russian, pitted against each other to win the pride and hope of their country). With the staggering death toll (over 1 million soldiers and almost half a million civilians died) and the significance of this battle in WWII, I was surprised that I had never hear ...more
Randall Christopher
Nov 30, 2012 Randall Christopher rated it liked it
Overall, this was a book that took awhile to read. There were some very well written portions that seemed to go by quickly, but then some parts that would drag on forever and seem to dull me to sleep. I enjoyed the final confrontation between the two snipers, and the interaction between characters was pretty well written, however I wasn't too keen on the made up aide, Nikki. To me, he was the least likeable character and his parts really made the story drag on more. I didn't care about him, like ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Evonne rated it really liked it
Loved it! Was totally intimidated by the foreign-ness of a 'war' book, especially one based on actual events, but I loved it. The characters were great, the story rolled along, the structure was intriguing and I enjoyed learning about that part of the war. Good read!
Mar 08, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
A great, but heart - wrenching read. Set during the battle of Stalingrad during World War 2 this is a beautifully written story with pulse pounding action and a gritty realism this is definitely a must for any military history buff or anyone interested in a great read. Mr Robbins has a way of writing detail that can draw out a scene in the mind's eye that is surely a pleasure to experience. I highly recommend this book.
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David L. Robbins was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 10, 1954. He grew up in Sandston, a small town east of Richmond out by the airport; his father was among the first to sit behind the new radar scope in the air traffic control tower. Both his parents, Sam and Carol, were veterans of WWII. Sam saw action in the Pacific, especially at Pearl Harbor.

In 1976, David graduated with a B.A. in Theat
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