Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army” as Want to Read:
A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,148 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Edited and translated from the Russian by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova Knopf Canada is proud to present a masterpiece of the Second World War, never before published in English, from one of the great Russian writers of the 20th century – a vivid eyewitness account of the Eastern Front and “the ruthless truth of war.”

When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Vasily Gro
Paperback, 380 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Vintage Canada (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. If anyone has an interest in the eastern front in WW2 this is a very good read. I am glad that I read Life and Fate prior to reading this book as it allowed me to understand how Grossman was influenced to write his masterpiece.
Walter Mendoza
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A great book about the German Russian war, point of view journalist Vasily Grossman. Starting with German invasion, the heroic Battle of Moscow, the bloody Battle of Stalingrad, the epic battle of Kursk, the atrocities of Treblinka and the ruins of Berlin.
Great Edition by Antony Beevor, about Grossman's notes; the vastness the events and stories of war. In conclusion an excellent job of the brutal life of people during the war. I recommend this book.
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Grossman, the author of the magnificent Life and Fate, took notes tirelessly as he covered the Second World War for Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) and was, despite Soviet censors, regarded as one of the war’s best journalists. His coverage of the siege of Stalingrad is powerful and gritty and focused on the individual solider, officer, resident. His article on Treblinka was one of the first reports on Hitler’s death camps published in any language. His insistence on reporting on the Holocaust and do ...more
Oct 27, 2012 added it
Recommends it for: BBC radio listeners

Starts 00:30 Sunday 18th November: Elliot Levey reads Vasily Grossman's front line despatches from the battle of Stalingrad

#1. Through Chekhov's Eyes: In the war of the rats, snipers like Anatoly Chekhov reigned.

Powerfully written.

One of those that shall remain un-rated.
This wasn't very interesting at all, but that's hardly Grossman's fault. I'm going to read Life and Fate one day, despite having had to force myself through this book. This is a bit like Alexievich's type of history telling, but without the interesting human aspect. I'm not very interested in where which armies (or generals) were when, because I won't remember it anyway, and the anecdotes the editors of this book have put together in between these dry details are sometimes just too random and ha ...more
Mickey Mantle
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent book.
Spellbinding.....a humanistic account of a brutal war...from Moscow through Stalingrad, Kursk, Treblinka, Warsaw and on to Berlin.
Interviews with the regular soldier on to Generals and all conducted at the front.
Absolutely fabulous.
Czarny Pies
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: WWII history buffs
Recommended to Czarny by: My Mother in law who witnessed the Eastern Front first hand
Shelves: european-history
Bravo to Antony Beevor for producing this compilation of Vasily Grossman's war reporting. Beevor made extensive use of Grossman's published and unpublished writing in his book "Stalingrad" which won three major history prizes. In an act of great professional courtesy, Beevor created this excellent volume so as to draw the public's attention to Vasily Grossman who deservers to be much better known than he is.

Grossman was the senior Russian journalist covering at the front during WWII. He was the
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
it was a really enjoyable read about how a sensible, non-political journalist got by about Stalingrad, the great tank battle of Kursk, and the Siege of Berlin.
I really liked he made interviews with the simple soldiers as with the hig ranked officials and while the nightmares of war has raged with full force, he could remain human -
which is the hardest thing to do.
If you want to read a detailled but human writing about war, soldiers this book is highly recommended.
Kiera Healy
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent account of the frontline Red Army experience during WW2. Vasily Grossman, a Jewish Soviet, became a war correspondent when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, and his writings move from the seemingly hopeless time of 1941 through to the turning point of Stalingrad, and then the march westward until the fall of Berlin.

This collection of notes - some articles, some letters, some private jottings, mostly unedited by propagandists and untouched by censors - paints a remarkable
Steve Coscia
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Unique WWII insight from a Russian perspective. Very honest and detailed accounts of the war's great battles in the east. Grossman's courage and honesty earned the respect of both foot soldiers and military leaders. Grossman's was able to capture the essence of events because he didn't write notes while speaking with soldiers, he just listened intently and allowed the soldiers to vent. Then later, he would write all the details in his notebooks. His notebook entries are very honest - the good, t ...more
Tom Marshall
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding insight - both of the Great Patriotic War from the intelligent, facile skills of a talented Russian writer and into the evolution of one of the most still oddly neglected and impactful authors of the 20th century.

And absorbing work throughout - one where the book's editors Beevor and Vinogradova enlighten the work rather than burden it - it would be worth reading alone for the excerpts of Grossman's notebooks which he fashioned into "The Hell Called Treblinka," a work quoted at the N
Sarah Beaudoin
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is hands-down one of the best nonfiction books I've read. Grossman was a journalist assigned in Stalin's army during World War II, and he spent almost the entire war at the front. This includes being present for nearly the entire battle for Stalingrad, being one of the first people at Treblinka after its liberation, and arriving in Berlin shortly before the German authorities surrendered. Grossman chronicles his observations, with a particular focus on the individual experiences. The result ...more
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii, history
It's not often that you get a man who is a primary source AND knows how to write, and therein lies the importance of this book. Add to that the fact that this comes from the Soviet side, and also that Grossman really had an eye for the small, humane details, and you get a great book.

Of course, since Grossman's contributions come from his notebooks, just pasting those notes together would not qualify the result for a successful book. And this is where Antony Beevor does a great job in editing, ex
Erwin Maack
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Muitos erros foram cometidos no mundo, erros que hoje, parece, nem um criança cometeria. Que caminhos tortuosos, obtusos, estreitos, impraticáveis, caminhos que a desviavam para longe, escolheu a humanidade, na ânsia de atingir a verdade eterna, quando diante dela se descortinava uma estrada ampla e reta como o caminho que leva ao santuário magnífico designado para a morada do rei! Era um caminho mais
largo e mais suntuoso que todos os outros caminhos, inundado de sol e iluminado por fogos a no
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to read Grossman's very well-written take on the Red Army as he followed them from place to place. I had lots of background information from other books on what was generally going on under Stalin during this war, but this was a new perspective. I liked his writing so much that I am going to read some of his fiction. His reportage was, of course, heavily censored, so I have a feeling he was able to sneak more information into his fiction. We shall see.
Edmond Dantes
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ho dovuto procurarmelo in Inglese, in quanto non disponibile, per chissà quanto, in Italiano.
Raccolta di alcuni articoli (già tradotti in parte in "anni di Guerra") e delle note (non tradotte in Italiano) raccolte da Grossman nei suoi 1.000 giorni al fronte, collegati dalle spiegazoni su guerra e politica del grande storico Beevor. Molto utile per chi vuole approfondire le radici di "Vita e Destino"
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
An astonishing book. A Soviet writer/journalist's notes as he experiences the harsh truth of war. One can see the influences for his masterwork, Life and Fate. Some scattered anecdotes, some longer essays. Excellent.
بهمن زبردست
ye chaape atighe az ye bakhshe in ketab dar moredestalingrad ro daram.gofatm ke harki in karast delesh besooze;)
Evangelos Sotiris
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An epic novel, a massive piece of literature. Worth the try!
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
(FROM MY BLOG) The Russian Academy of Sciences has estimated that the Soviet Union suffered 26.6 million fatal casualties in World War II, of which 8.7 million were military deaths.  Other researchers, according to Wikipedia, put the total number of dead and missing as high as 40 million, with 14 million of those being military.

In the West, we naturally focus our attention on the Normandy invasion and the battles in North Africa and Italy in determining the cause of Germany's defeat.  We overloo
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Writer at War is basically the notebooks that Vasily Grossman kept while he was a war correspondent with Krasnaya Zvezda, the Red Army newspaper, with occasional comments from the editors to help explain the army slang and Russian culture. Grossman was with the Red Army from about a year before Stalingrad to 1945, when the army rolled into Berlin...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.
Shelley Motz
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The brutal truth of war as told by Vasily Grossman, an exquisitely empathic and observant intellectual who witnessed the Red Army's WWII exploits first hand; who told the stories of soldiers and civilians with compassion; and who sought justice for the victims of Hitler and Himmler through his work with the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee. The book includes excerpts from his article on Treblinka, which was used by the prosecution in the Nuremberg trials.
Gumble's Yard
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Edited compilation of Grossman’s notes, private journals, and published and unpublished work during his time “embedded” with the Red Army from the catastrophe of the initial defeats, through the hell of Stalingrad, the counter-attack, the attack through Poland (including the discovery of concentration camps – which particularly upset Grossman as a Jew whose mother was killed in the war) and the final attack on and occupation of Brazil.

Very interesting (not brilliant) read – sometimes the detail
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Tough book to read but I carried on a few pages a day. Amazing insight from the Russian point of view. Some amazing stories that shock, horrify and amaze. Very good for research.
Bob Schmitz
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-wwii
Vasily Grossman was the Ernie Pyle of the Russian army in WWII. He worked for newspaper The Red Star, and traveled with the Red Army from the start of the war to Berlin. This book is his field notes interspersed with broad descriptions of what was going on during the war. It is a fascinating glimpse into the day to day happenings on the Eastern Front.

Miscellaneous notes:
- There was lots of singing and music at the front with concerts, gramophones, radios etc.
- Due to Stalin's purges in the Ukra
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vasily Grossman wrote one of my favourite novels, Life and Fate. It is astounding that the novel was only published because a friend had a copy of the manuscript, which was smuggled into Switzerland years later. Grossman died thinking that his magnificent book would be suppressed forever. In 'A Writer At War' the reader finds the seeds of Life and Fate, as Grossman reported from the Eastern Front throughout the war. He observed the disastrous Soviet losses of 1941, the Battle of Stalingrad, the ...more
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
When the German army sped across the Soviet border in June 1941 in a double-cross that left the more-than-adequately forewarned Stalin shocked and a few of his most prominent generals conveniently scapegoated and summarily shot, Vasily Grossman, too, was caught unawares. The Ukrainian novelist was fat, brainy, and Jewish, credentials that were more "counter" than "revolutionary" and earned him a nyet at the nearest recruiting station. He was, it turns out, fortunate just to have had the opportun ...more
Arnoldo Garcia
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read "A Writer at War" when it came out, when I was trying to gulp down anything I could get my eyes on about war. I was and continue writing almost daily about the wars' impact on langauges, human senses, relationships between humans and humans and humans and the natural world.

NOTES: I am re-reading "a Writer at War" as I continue compiling a set of writings that document the U.S. wars against Iraq and and their impacts here, from afar, a poetics of PTDS of sorts to find our way out this huma
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to David by: Read Grossman's "Life & Fate" and this seemed like a good complement
Kudos for Beevor and Vinogradova, the editor and translator. Contain excerpts and commentary on Grossman's WW II writings, much of which was raw material from his private notebooks. Some material was used in stories for the newspaper "Red Star," but lots was too critical or controversial, so Grossman saved it for use in "Life & Fate." A truly excellent book! Suggest one read both this and "Life & Fate."
Apr 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Diane by: WWII History Buffs
I suspect as time passes and I reflect more about the information in this book, I'll think it deserves a higher rating. Much of the time I stuggled with the Russian and German names, military terminolgy, and geography, which sent me repeatedly looking on the internet to keep from being completely lost. But just when I thought about giving the book up, I'd read something so interesting about the people who lived through WWII on the eastern front that I knew I had to continue reading the book. Vas ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945
  • Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945
  • Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War
  • Moscow 1941: A City And Its People At War
  • Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare
  • The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad
  • Battle for Iwo Jima
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
  • Leningrad: State of Siege
  • Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
  • The Forgotten Soldier
  • The Gates of November
  • A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon
  • The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine
  • The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
  • Catherine the Great
  • Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw
русс: Василий Гроссман

Born Iosif Solomonovich Grossman into an emancipated Jewish family, he did not receive a traditional Jewish education. A Russian nanny turned his name Yossya into Russian Vasya (a diminutive of Vasily), which was accepted by the whole family. His father had social-democratic convictions and joined the Mensheviks. Young Vasily Grossman idealistically supported the Russian Revo
More about Vasily Grossman...

Share This Book

“We leafed through a series of the [1941 Soviet] Front newspaper. I came across the following phrase in a leading article: 'The much-battered enemy continued his cowardly advance.” 7 likes
“No one could understand; nor could she explain it herself. This senseless kindness is condemned in the fable about the pilgrim who warmed a snake in his boson. It is the kindness that has mercy on a tarantula that has bitten a child. A mad, blind kindness. People enjoy looking in stories and fables for examples of the danger of this kind of senseless kindness. But one shouldn't be afraid of it. One might just as well be afraid of a freshwater fish carried out by chance into the salty ocean. The harm from time to time occasioned a society, class, race or State by this senseless kindness fades away in the light that emanates from those who are endowed with it. This kindness, this stupid kindness, is what is most truly human in a human being. It is what sets man apart, the highest achievement of his soul. No it says, life is not evil.” 5 likes
More quotes…