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Thunder In The East


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How much do you know about the war between the Axis and the Soviet Union? Most people should know about Barbarossa, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk and of the immolation of the Nazis in Berlin. We know about Stalin, Zhukov and Konev and maybe Rokossovskii. Professor Evan Mawdsley is an expert on the military history of the USSR and brings us a weighty tome in Thunder In The East - The Nazi-Soviet War 1941-1945.This book is heavy going at times, but the whole canvas of events from 22.06.1941 to the end of the war is covered in plenty of detail. Professor Mawdsley dispenses with personal accounts and has no interest in weapons or kit in detail; but he is at pains to highlight the war winning nature of the Soviet armaments industry and the crucial influx of Lend-Lease lorries, armour and aeroplanes. We've all been wrapped up in the death of one soldier in the Iraq War in recent days. In this book we see how losses like telephone numbers occured on both sides and how brutal the two states were to people of all genders and ages. Perhaps the most interesting fact to appear is that, for the Russians, the complete history is still not written. So many facts were buried or misrepresented to suit passing regimes after Stalin's death. These mostly centre around losses and gains or about the military accumen of Uncle Joe himself. There are a few other books giving some insight in to the life of the Frontovikibut they are just numbers here. Millions of them swarmed into Germany to kill off the fascist beast in his lair, as Stalin and the Stavka demanded. I found chapters regarding the fate of the lesser partners of the Axis to be very educational and above all sympathy for Poland and the Baltic states remains strong. Professor Mawdsley tells us something else too: For the Soviets it was The Great Fatherland War. I hadn't heard that name for it before. He asserts that far too many western histories of this war were written based on the recollections of the Germans. Prevailing circumstances dictated this. Even now Zhukov's writings are not available in English and they are not complete, even in Russian. Fascinating stuff - but not a light read.

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