Ryan Doherty's Reviews > Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad

Enemy at the Gates by William Craig
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May 09, 07

bookshelves: history
Read in June, 2000

Personally I find micro history a much more fascinating methodological approach than macro history. Actually, it's a bit of both: I like to gain an overall appreciation of a period or topic first before examining it in detail and finding out what it was like for those who lived through it. But I find the second part the most interesting.

Enemy at The Gates is the most compelling, disturbing, and brilliantly written attempt to relate what being involved in brutal, relentless, close quarter combat is like for those involved and how it affects them. For (the vast majority) of us fighting street to street and house to house in an attempt to gain control of a city that is exploding and burning around us isn't something we can comprehend, but Craig uses diaries, letters and first hand accounts of the battle from both sides to give us an insight into the conditions of such a situation and the truly terrifying personal cost it has on its participants.

Often it feels like you're reading a novel, particularly during the most intense phases, before you remember and appreciate the fact that this actually happened in exactly this way to these people, and it's a sobering thought.
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