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Michael K. Jones's new history of Stalingrad offers a radical reinterpretation of the most famous battle of the WW2. Combining eyewitness testimony of Red Army fighters with fresh archive material, the book gives a dramatic insight into the thinking of the Russian command and the mood of the ordinary soldiers.
He focuses on the story of the Russian 62nd Army, which began the campaign in utter demoralisation, yet turned the tables on the powerful German 6th Army. He explains the Red Army's extraordinary performance using battle psychology, emphasising the vital role of leadership, morale and motivation in a triumph that turned the course of the war.
Colonel-General Anatoly Mereshko fought throughout the battle as staff officer to the commander, Chuikov. Working with the author much of Mereshko's testimony is entirely new - and will astonish a western audience. It is backed up by accounts of other key veterans and the recently released war diary and combat journals.
These show that the oft-repeated descriptions of Stalingrad's two critical days of fighting - 14 September 1942, when the Germans broke into the city, and 14 October, when they launched a massive attack on the factory district - disguise how desperate the plight of the defenders really was. In their place is a far more terrifying reality. Grasping this, we come to see Stalingrad as more than a victory of successful tactics - rather, as an astounding, improbable triumph of the human spirit.
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