Absolute War: Soviet Russia In The Second World War (Pan Military Classics Series)
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Absolute War: Soviet Russia In The Second World War (Pan Military Classics Series)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  187 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"Absolute War" tells the story of the greatest and most terrible land-air conflict of all time: the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. There have been many individual accounts of particular moments in the vicious war between the Nazi regime and the Sovet behemoth, but none which sets out to tell the full and dreadful story of that absolute war: absolute because bo...more
Paperback, 814 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Pan Publishing (first published 2007)
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Jeffrey
My four-start review reflects an A+ first two-thirds of the book and a C- finale. The beginning of the book covering from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact through the assault on Moscow is amazing. It describes in fascinating detail why the Soviets and Nazis made peace against all seeming sense, how Stalin reacted to Hitler's treachery, and how the Soviet Union as a whole pulled together in its darkest hours of 1941. But the author himself admits that after the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk the outc...more
Ugh
Would it be wrong of me to compare the prospect and execution of reading this 687-page (not including the notes, bibliography and index) behemoth to that of the war in the east itself? Best not, I suppose.

Maybe it would suffice to say that having bought Absolute War for the '40s-esque price of a mere £1, it took me two years to pick it up in anger, and even then I expected to just read the intro and then shelve it again for perhaps another 2-20 years. However, instead I ploughed on through to th...more
Dave
If you want to understand the war in the East, this book is a must read. Written from the meta-level of troop numbers, supply tonnage, and corps movements, the reader gets the perspective of a truly massive onslaught of men and material. It is NOT a gripping acount of individual soldiers or smaller units. Instead, it focuses on the overall struggle, which makes it a staggering portrayal of the lows men are capable of in their desires to rule each other. It is particularly harrowing in comparison...more
Hadrian
I admit more than a fascination with the Eastern Front - the largest land front in military history.

This book takes the long view - starts before the Second World War, and ends with the Japanese surrender in September 1945. Massive amounts of original research, sweeps away many of the past myths on the war. Staggering amounts of detail - and still very readable.

Good portraits of many of the dominant figures as well - how their relations affected the lives of thousands. Stalin, in particular, is...more
Liviu
Excellent account of the prelude and first phase (1941-1943) of the Russo-German war of 1941-1945, the "greatest and most terrible" war in history so far no question about it.

The 1944-1945 phase is less emphasized, more of an overview than a true analysis for reasons the author explains clearly, but the first part is extraordinarily well done.

The book would have needed two volumes for the same detail in the latter part, but that one is much better known since it was extensively publicized i...more
Paul
This is an interesting book looking at the war from the Eastern European view. Most books are written with a western European or American outlook, this looks at the brutality on the Eastern Front.

As a historian who is currently writing some overviews on some of the Eastern fronts for a museum this is a handy reference point when I need to prod in the right direction.

This is no light read and it doesnt pull any punches you read and experience the full brutality of war, taking in Stalingrad, Warsa...more
David
Misses 5 stars because of the many grammatical errors. Either the book wasn't proofed at all, or the proofreaders did a terrible job. That's a shame, considering the voluminous research Bellamy engaged in. The maps are nothing special, either.

Bellamy makes the point early on that this tome is not exhaustive, particularly post-1942. Given that limitation, he has done a masterful job, with the caveat that readers with some background on the Soviet Union's relationship with Nazi Germany will likely...more
Aeneas
Bought this based on a recommendation that it was the best general history on probably the most important conflict in human history...it isn't. For some reason the author kept drawing comparisons to Gulf War 1 and Gulf War 2, throughout the book...

"Furthermore, the meticulous Soviet arrangements for 'state building' and establishing security in the immediate wake of military conquest or reconquest-for example, in Poland, the Baltic States and post-war Germany-compare quite favorably, in terms o...more
Ilya
A British professor of military history and onetime newspaper defense correspondent, who is fluent in Russian, took advantage of Yeltsin's opening of the Russian archives in order to write a one-volume history of the Soviet Union in World War II. The postwar Soviet Union had a slogan, "None are forgotten, nothing is forgotten," but in fact a great many things about World War II were deliberately forgotten. The Battle of Rzhev involved more men and tanks than the Battle of Stalingrad, but it is f...more
Mary
Two reasons why I'm reading this - I won it from Pan Macmillan but also it's the subject area,Russia and the Eastern Front, falls in a gap in my knowledge. A lot of WW2 history is picked up, accurately or not, through films - from Battle of the River Plate and the Dam Busters to Saving Private Ryan and Memphis Belle, via the Great Escape and the Dirty Dozen - but from the Allied point of view.Presumably the Russians made their versions of heroic war movies but they've not reached our TV screens....more
John
Normally I don't read military history. Such historians seem more compulsive list makers than anything else, and I can't see the significants of all those squiggles and squirms they draw on maps. BUT this is one book that, albeit painfully tedious, one should read. It relates the story of the most gargantuan land-air war in the history of mankind, the eastern front of WWII in Europe. Just think of it - 26-27 million dead in that engagement. And on the heals of the revolution, the Civil War in th...more
Mick Grant
I've always had a horrific fascination with the war on the Eastern Front. The scale of the conflict and the casualties is so horrendous that it is almost beyond imagination. 34 million Soviet men and women were mobilised to the armed forces and more than 10 million of them died. Compare this to the combined British and US military deaths of about 800,000. Add to this the civilian losses and the total reaches more than 25 million Soviet dead.
This is a very good account of the conflict which focu...more
Iván Braga
Un libro realmente excelente. Si el tema de la segunda guerra mundial te interesa, este libro es imprescindible. Guerra Absoluta presenta la historia del frente ruso en el conflicto y lo hace de modo muy completo y con una visión integral. Sin ser el libro más detallado sobre el tema - intención que además no creo que haya estado en lo que autor buscaba - el autor realmente analiza en forma muy comprensiva lo que significó el choque entre la alemania nazi y la unión soviética. Se plantea la conf...more
Nathan
A dense and mazy account of Russia's role in World War II, illuminated only briefly at the start by its general premise. Most World War II histories that I've read have cast Russia as a bit player in the grander drama of the conflict, a loyal but undistinguished ally to the British and Americans. Bellamy's history thrusts us into the world of Russia in the war, viewing history from their perspective. This was a new experience for me, and one that promised to be revelatory. However, the logistics...more
Olethros
-Una obra reciente a la altura de clásicos más antiguos sobre el tema del Frente Oriental pero que se queda a un pasito de esa categoría.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Ensayo sobre la Segunda Guerra Mundial en el Frente Oriental, que analiza la situación en los tiempos previos al conflicto, las implicaciones del pacto Molotov-Ribbentrop, la concepción de Barbarroja, un análisis de sus posibles razones tácticas y el relato del posterior desarrollo de los acontecimientos hasta la rendición...more
Loosak
Titanská kniha o titanské válce! 660 stran textu (bez poznámek a rejstříku). Autor má "objektivní" přístup, ale neskrývá svůj obdiv k rusům a potažmo jejich vůdcům (Stalin, Berija). Zaujalo mne zejména vyvrácení fikce o "největší tankové bitvě v dějinách" (Prochorovka). Tanků nebylo 1300, ale "pouze" 850, z toho 600 sovětských a 250 německých. Bitva také ve skutečnosti neskončila jako u Ozerova drtivým sovětským výtězstvím, ale minimálně plichtou. Dále mě zaujala věta: Stalin prohlásil, že Rotmi...more
Chris
Pretty much *the* definitive text these days about the evolution of the USSR's army from fail to win. Wish it had more on the events of Bagration and beyond though.
Darrell Woods


Such a gigantic conflict... The scale of the numbers, the geography... It tends to mean that books on this decisive aspect of WW2 just drown you in detail and the scope is lost. Bellamy shrewdly learns from his mentor Erickson, and instead makes sure the broader sweep is clearly articulated. Thus, you won't learn anything new about Stalingrad for example but everything makes more sense... The context is present. A surprisingly readable account with very good supporting maps, it shows just how l...more
Bryan
Good book. It was a piece of history I didn't know much about, and this book filled this gap in my knowledge admirably. I do wish the author would have provided more background and analysis of the major players, but it probably would have significantly lengthened an already long book. I liked the diagrams and descriptions of battle as the author does build suspense on how the Russians were going to pull it out. Recommended for those who want a good overview of the eastern front.
Dan Lewis
This book has really opened my eyes to the efficiency, resilience, and determination of the Soviet Union during WWII. It also firmly places our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in perspective as relatively small operations in terms of number of troops involved. It also opened my eyes to how close Nazi Germany came, and yet how far they were from their objective of knocking the Soviet Union out of the war. Definitely a good read.
Eric Smith
This is the best one volume history of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union in World War Two. It has great maps and lots of them and the writer is far above average in both his style and content. The book is long, over 600 pages, but it is really short when compared to its subject matter. I highly recommend this book and consider it one of the ten best history books I've read (and I've read hundreds). Check it out.
Joey
Contains quite a few typos. The maps are informative but also packed with so much information that it is difficult to really understand what is taking place.

I gave it two stars because it contained a lot of information about Russia and the eastern front of World War Two, however, it was not organized well and I don't think an editor was allowed to look at it before it was published.
Mark
Pretty darn thorough look at the Soviet Union at war with Nazi Germany, especially concentrating on the lead-up to war and the opening stages through Stalingrad... although not as smoothly-written as Overy's "Russia's War." Either that one glossed over some details for a smoother story, or "Absolute War" is just choppier-written.
Singleton Mosby
A through and interesting account of the war on the Eastern-front. I enjoyed reading this book altough I didn't like the hasty pace of everything after the Kursk offensive. If you have read a lot of books about the different campaigns and battles Bellamy's is a good choice to link them together and paint the bigger picture.
Speedy
Un libro denso, pero al tiempo entretenido. La dimensión de la destrucción, la barbarie, la estupidez y la grandeza son épicas... recomendación absoluta para todo aquel que quiera saber más de la segunda guerra mundial en el frente oriental, pero sobre todo para entender por qué sucedió y cuáles fueron las consecuencias.
Mikee
The story of the Eastern Front in WW II. Great magnificent story. What amazing strength, bravery and backbone the Russians had. This was denied to us in the years after the war, while I was in school. We were the ones to rescued the world from evil. How much more impressive the truth is.
Armen
So far a slow read - but this is one of about a two dozen books I have read on this topic. I am only at the point in the book where he is setting the stage - we'll see if it measures up to Barbarossa by Alan Clark, the best on this subject I have read.
Tom Griffith
Phew. Hard work, but worth it. The first 500 pages covered 1941-42; the last 150 covered 1943-45. So it was reallllllllly slow at first and then went out with a big fat bye-bye-Hitler bang. Never again.
David
This was an excellent book. I recommend reading this and Ivan's War. This was the best book that I have read about the Soviet side of the second would war.
Sal
the definitive work on the eastern theater during WWII
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Christopher Bellamy was born in 1955 and was educated at the universities of Oxford, London, Westminster and Edinburgh, and at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Professor Bellamy began his career as an officer in the Royal Artillery, before pursuing an academic career in War Studies. He was Defence Correspondent of The Independent and the Independent on Sunday and reported widely on conflict...more
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