96 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softcover
Though the Germans did not realize it at the time, the battle for Stalingrad was a turning point in the war with the Soviet Union. If you look on a map, you'll see that by the time the army reached this far, it was a very long way back to Germany. One thing that had nearly always plagued the German Army was its difficulty in keeping its armies supplied. In North Africa it was the sinking of supply ships and shooting down of transport aircraft. In the Eastern Front, it was sheer distance and lack of suitable roads.
For the most part, the extant Soviet rail system was used, but it was fairly sparse in the western part of the country. Add to it that the roads were poorly maintained and when it rained, they turned into a quagmire. It also did not help that Soviet partisans put forth a constant effort to disrupt supply lines. What this meant is that once an offensive really got going, it had to stop for lack of fuel, ammunition, spare parts, and replacement troops and equipment.
The assault on Stalingrad is a prime example of this. The initial forays were hugely successful for the Germans. The Soviet army was poorly led, poorly equipped, and the Soviet troops were not well trained. Despite having the best tank around, the Soviets did not employ them well and some of the largest tank battles of the war were fought during the move towards Stalingrad. The lack of proper strategic and tactical thinking even left the town wide open for nearly a week. It is just a fortune of war that the Germans had outrun their supply line and could not take advantage of the situation.
The author does a superlative job of telling the story of this conflict, from the build up, through the various battles in the push towards the city. At the end of this volume, it certainly appears that the Soviets are doomed to lose yet another major land battle. As with other books in this series, the various armies and leaders are profiled, giving their strengths and weaknesses. All of this is additionally enhanced by some great period photos as well as the maps and illustrations of Steve Noon, who many of you will recognize from other editions.
In all, it is a well done history of a campaign of which many are aware, but few really understand. This edition helps in that understanding.
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