Whilst the maxim "history is written by the victors" continues to be proven through the millennia of documented mankind, the history of the Soviet UniWhilst the maxim "history is written by the victors" continues to be proven through the millennia of documented mankind, the history of the Soviet Union cannot be so simply reduced. In a land where those out of favor simply vanished from text and imagery, history was more the study of shifting sands than the examination of bedrock upon which current events rest. This is one of the reasons the reading of Zhukov's (re-)telling of four decisive WWII battles is so fascinating. Context is everything and there is more to his words than a stream of facts and events.
In order to understand this, the editing and footnote commenting of Harrison Salisbury is not only interesting but crucial. With this we can better interpret certain Zhukov assertions and understand the bigger picture of Party machinations and inter-colleague rivalries. Yes, less there be any doubt, even Socialists have egos, petty and grandiose, that need to be stroked and inflated!
Despite this, and above all, these four battles -- Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin -- fought by the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany make a terrible tapestry upon which 20th century history is woven. Most of us have no concept of the sacrifices and loss suffered by the people of this now extinct country. Zhukov, in his generally undisputed role of 'greatest Soviet general' does not dwell on the human cost, but it can be readily inferred (and easily Googled!).
This is a book not just for students of military science but for those that also want to understand recent history...as written and then, re-written. ...more
Whether walking the streets of the quarter or sitting at home, thousands of miles from Nawlins, this the perfect little guide book for the Vieux CarreWhether walking the streets of the quarter or sitting at home, thousands of miles from Nawlins, this the perfect little guide book for the Vieux Carre. Antippas does a superb job of transporting you back to and through the storied past of New Orleans. A gem of a book, methinks....more
"What madness to fight to the knife and then become good friends!"
This is a deceptively simple book, written in a matter-of-fact voice, as almost a t"What madness to fight to the knife and then become good friends!"
This is a deceptively simple book, written in a matter-of-fact voice, as almost a travelogue of Colonel von Luck's experiences and travails in war and imprisonment. I wondered, more than once whilst reading, if the dispassionate distance of 40 years -- the approximate length of time from events to writing -- might have allowed a bit of a selective memory patina to colour his discourse. The Ukrainians welcomed the invading Germans, the Georgians embraced them, even many French took a "c'est la vie" attitude towards the 'sale Boche.' Of course, even though it is hard to know the exact truth, it is well-known that many denizens of the various SSRs (Soviet Socialist Republics), for a multitude of reasons, had no lack of antipathy for Russians, Stalinists, or both. As well, the French are survivors. But in von Luck's account the Russians are not the villains either. Merely soulful children under the cynical boot of Stalin and his corrupt and inept functionaries. Perhaps a bit too simple of a caricature.
Regardless, this neither a deep political thesis nor a memoir of military strategies and tactics. In then end it is a experiential personal story of survival, reconciliation and renewal. And as such, it shines.
"As a professional soldier I cannot escape my share of the collective guilt; but as a human being I feel none. I hope that nowhere in the world will young people ever again allow themselves to be so misused."