John's Reviews > Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939 - 1945

Ivan's War by Catherine Merridale
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Jan 11, 11

Read in January, 2011

Really interesting, especially if you have read anything about the experiences of American soldiers in WWII. I know that war was awful for everyone, but it really seems to have been amazingly awful for Russian soldiers. Wrapping one's head around Soviet casualties is really hard; the US lost less than half a million soldiers, while the Soviets lost over 8 million soldiers. Mere days of fighting regularly killed tens of thousands. It's just mind-boggling. And the Americans were fighting for a country that had been united for over a hundred and fifty years. It had been seventy-five years or so since the Civil War. By contrast, the Soviets were fighting for a country that had only existed for a couple of decades, and had experienced almost constant infighting and recrimination and strife. The Americans knew that their families were safe at home, untouched by fighting. Millions of the Soviet soldiers knew that the fighting was directly affecting their hometowns, and their families were in grave danger. Merridale has a nice writing style as well, she keeps the book moving and works in just enough personal and anecdotal detail. Good solid history without being stuffy.
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