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The Greatest Battle: The Battle For Moscow 1941 - 42

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  295 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle. The combined losses of both sid ...more
Paperback, 366 pages
Published 2008 by Aurum Press (first published 2001)
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This was a solid and readable book suited to the general reader, myself included. The author provides a good outline of the build up to the German invasion and then the campaign leading to Moscow's edges mixed with anecdotes and quotes from the political leaderships, commanders, troops and civilians.

My reasoning for three stars is that whilst book is readable and informative Moscow in terms of battle joined (in its specific sense of the German movement and attacks to reach and capture the capita
Aug 27, 2008 Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Putin and his KGB cronies are trying to replicate the Soviet Empire through military action taken against weak neighbors while describing USSRs 1989 collapse as a great moral tragedy.
This marvelous book sheds light on what another Russian tyrant did in 1941 to save his skin: throw any and all conscripted soldiers at the invaders. Stalin lost 1.7 MILLION men in this one battle but Moscow was saved so that he could continue to be reponsible for the deaths of 25 MILLION of his Soviet countrymen.
Perry Whitford
Generally ignored by prosperity, certainly considered secondary to Stalingrad when remembering the German clashes with Russia during Operation Barbarossa, in his introduction Nagorski calls the battle for Moscow "arguably the most important battle of WWII and inarguably the largest battle between two armies of all time" (7 million fought, up to 2.5 killed or injured).

Certainly the incredible cost of human life that resulted from one madman's attempt to conquer a continent and another sociopath's
Solid, but a bit rambling and anecdotal. Nagorski continuously compares shortcomings of Hitler and Stalin -- their refusal to listen to their generals, or listen to anything they didn't want to hear; their callous indifference to how many of their own troops were lost to achieve their ends; their unrealistic and capricious plans and goals. These frequent comparisons sidetracked the book at times but were, thankfully, fairly interesting.

Written in two directions, as it were, Nagorski draws from
This was a very interesting book for a World War II historian like me. Most of the material was recently declassified by the the former Soviet Union. As Russia won the Great War against Germany, they paint a very rosy picture of how Russians united to face the German threat. The truth is a bit more mixed. While, thankfully, the Red Army won, it was a much closer thing than history portrays. Stalin made numerous blunders that nearly handed Moscow to the Wehrmacht, it was only the massive sacrific ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading a biography on Stalin last year I wanted to learn more about the Soviets during World War Two. So when I found this book on the Battle of Moscow I was excited. In the opening of the book the author made it clear that while there is some distant historical imagination in the Russian public memory of the Battle of Moscow, very few people know the exact details and actual facts beyond the sanitized Soviet account. The book’s chief point is to explore the battle historically with data ...more
Oct 30, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rate this book so high because it taught me a lot about a major portion of recent world history that I didn't know I didn't know.

D-Day, the part everyone knows about from Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, involved the landing of some 160,000 troops in France. Operation Overlord (the invasion of Europe) in its entirety involved some 2,000,000 allied forces in the first two months. The Battle for Moscow alone had more Russian casualties than entire European Invasion had allied forces! Who
Jock Mcclees
Dec 08, 2014 Jock Mcclees rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on CD and was mildly put off by the voice of the person reading. Otherwise a good book. I knew Stalin was bad, but had never read anything about him. He was a sociopath who was perhaps just as bad as Hitler. I hadn't realized that Lenin had warned not to let Stalin have power, but Stalin had already grabbed it. I didn't realize that both Hitler and Stalin were as intelligent as they were. That intelligence helped them get them to leadership positions but because they looked do ...more
Felipe Borges
Despite of being a very interesting chapter of WWII, the author's partiality against the Soviet Union can be considered pure anti-communist propaganda. I wasn't expecting a so 'Stalin-centric' report, which propagates common misconceptions about the Soviet regime.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Stalin or the URSS. But the author insists to perpetuate an idea of generalized terror whereupon the soviet people would be 'afraid of their leaders' on a daily basis. Besides, it insists to argue f
May 22, 2016 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A compelling read about the largest battle in history. The author argues the battle for Moscow hasn't received the place in history it deserves because of the uncomfortable questions it raises about Stalin's leadership before and during the war. To focus too much on the battle for Moscow after the war raised too many questions about Stalin's collaborations with Hitler to divide Poland, the effect of his deadly military purges on the readiness of Soviet defenses, and just how it was that the Germ ...more
Paul Pessolano
This one is for the historian, and anyone interested in the Second World War. Nagorski gives the reader a differnet look into the Battle of Moscow. Most of us, when we think of the clash between Hitler and Stalin, usually look to the Battle of Stalingrad. I was totally amazed in finding out that the Battle of Moscow was "the biggest battle of all time". Seven million troops, both German and Russian, were engaged in this battle. The combined losses on both sides were 2.5 million, 2 million being ...more
Feb 23, 2010 Tripp rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you call a book the Greatest Battle, you would expect that the book would tell the story of, well, a battle. I suppose if you want to get metaphorical this book is about a sort of struggle, but not a military one. Rather it is about the Russian's people struggle to get a war won while Stalin was leading the country. The lopsided emphasis of the narrative makes the subtitle Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II, all the more inappropria ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious fans of world war ii and 20th century history
Shelves: history
The basic outline of Nagorski's story isfamiliar if you've read a general history of World War II: the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the collapse of the Red Army, the calamitous misjudgments on both sides, the desperate fight for the Soviet capital. Nagorski uncovered details of the struggle that are new to most Western readers and a departure from the official Soviet story of an unwaveringly stalwart defense; in fact, as the Germans arrived on the city's outskirts, the capital fe ...more
May 16, 2009 Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A revealing look at World War II on the Eastern Front between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia based on documents released after the fall of the Berlin wall. If ever you were looking for a clash between two supremely evil leaders, this would be the story of all stories. I'm sure everyone is aware of Hitler's atrocities. However, Stalin could be considered just as brutal and sadistic. The difference being Stalin came to fight on our side (or we fought on his side). Without his involvement, th ...more
Apr 24, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a student of military history, I keep finding out things I didn't know. For WW2, I've had an American's typical understanding that focuses on the Western Front (and Pacific Theater), knowing only vaguely about the cataclysm occurring on the Eastern Front. This book focuses on the central part of that conflict, Nazi Germany's push towards the heart of the Soviet Union. It covers the battle, but spends more time on the broader political and social history of that time. Hitler's boldness...and ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Vishank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest work of history about World War II. It unfolds the various secrets and real life incidents that speaks to itself about the two peculiar dictators of all time and their military leadership. Its a collection of various interviews of people who were involved or seen this one of the biggest disastrous battle of Moscow. Author has compiled it as a research work on World War II, though its more of a Russian point of view and about how Stalin lay down his human soldiers like waves o ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Bruinrefugee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I was disappointed. In the balance between letting one know what was actually happening on the ground and what was happening in the back rooms, this book leans strongly to the latter. It's covers a very important time in WWII that rarely gets covered, but I had hoped for just a little more. In terms of style, however, it is readable and it does have some interesting and (to me) new insights into the Battle for Moscow in 1941.
Dec 18, 2015 Grant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine overall study of the early phase of the Soviet-German conflict, balancing the perspectives of the senior political and military leaders on both sides with those of average soldiers and civilians caught up in the battles. With almost a third of the book devoted to setting the stage, the military aspects of the battle receive relatively light analysis, but Nagorski successfully argues for the place of the Battle of Moscow in the historiography of World War II. Very good for non-specialists ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Jpp rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Nagorski a choisi d'écrire sur une bataille qui marqua le premier échec de la Blitzkrieg hitlérienne, une bataille dont les enjeux militaires mais surtout politiques furent considérables. On regrettera énormément le parti pris absolu de l'auteur qui passe tellement de pages à démontrer l'incompétence voire la bêtise et surtout l'horreur avilissante de Staline que l'on ne parvient plus à comprendre comment l'Armée Rouge a réussi là où les armées française et anglaises avaient si lamentable ...more
Joseph Landau
This book describes the times, the crimes, the people and their experiences. In other words, everything but the battle itself. Still, for a first introduction to the events, it's very good.
Andrew Parnell
Mar 29, 2016 Andrew Parnell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book from a differentperpective
Dec 29, 2011 Nichole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
k, I did something that no graduatin senior in high school would ever do: I read this AFTER graduating from High School! :D but I'd have to say it was very good and the research was incredible! I actually learned some things that was NEVER taught in school or in textbooks. I finally learned the turning point of WWII, and also why Hitler and Stalin became who they were during the course through WWII. I wish the stuff written in here was taught in school but oh well. But yeah, I really liked it. w ...more
Jan 03, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Wow, this one was amazing. It really shows just how near-run a thing Operation Barbarossa was for the Wehrmacht. Before reading this book, I believed that Stalingrad was the single most important battle on the Eastern front. However, this book shows in stunning detail just how great a catastrophe it would have been if the Germans had taken Moscow, and just how likely their winning the war would have been. Very vividly written, at times, when describing the descending winter, it makes you shiver.
Jun 22, 2010 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has less to do with the military movements during the battle for Moscow during WWII, and more to do with what was happening everywhere besides the battle front that influenced the battle.

Through interviews, journals and recently released documents, Naorski creates an interesting look into the USSR during war time. I hope that Nagorski is writing a book that looks at the USSR with the same depth and humanity beyond this single battle. That would be an even better read.
John Setear
If you know very little about World War II, then this book would be a nice introduction to a crucial battle on the most important front. But if you know the outlines of the conflict and the battle, then I do not recommend the book. There are some nice interviews with survivors, and a chapter on a one-day panic in Moscow of which I had not heard, but otherwise, this was very familiar ground. And it does only a passable job of analyzing why the Germans failed to take Moscow.
Nov 07, 2010 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than the average WW2 book,
some new details.

Hitler says he diverted troops from the surge to Moscow to secure the natural resources in the Ukraine.

The author fails to point out that it would take several years to restore those to productivity and this contradicts Hitlers expectation that the USSR would be conquered in 4 months.

So those resources wouldn't be needed for the Russian war.

Fortunately, Hitler made more mistakes than Stalin, so he lost.
Tom Schulte
Oct 23, 2012 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get it:

1. Stalingrad, as bad as it was for Paulos and the German 6th Army, is a sideshow to the Battle of Moscow and has been in a sense overhyper since Hitler's original monomania. Ditto for Leningrad.

2. Between two armies underequipped and misled by their megalomaniacal psychopath leaders, bet on the more warmly clothed defenders.

3. German tendencies to terrorize potential collaborators only works out for a little while.
Jul 03, 2012 Kevin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What was the deadliest battle of World War 2? Quickly! Stalingrad? The Battle of the Bulge? The landings on Normandy? All wrong. It was the Battle of Moscow. Millions died, wounded or captured. Colossal mistakes on both sides. Germans fighting throughout that first Russian winter without being dressed for that occasion. But - this is not interesting. The battle maybe, but the book - no.
Dec 21, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched history of the Battle of Moscow (late 1941 to late 1942) between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army. The author interviewed many participants and had access to government documents that became available after the collapse of the USSR. He debunks the official Soviet view of the battle as a glorious victory by patriots. Stalin and Hitler were birds of the same feather.
Jeannie Williams
This is brilliantly written, succinct and eye opening book on the attempt by Hitler to take over Moscow. It was a catostrophic event and greatly weakened the aggressive Nazi war machine.

Stalin and Hitler were ruthless, insane commanders. They slaughtered so mnay of their own troops.
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From back cover:
Andrew Nagorski, award-winning journalist, is vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute, a New York-based international affairs think tank. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine's bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. He lives in Pelham Manor, New York.
More about Andrew Nagorski...

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