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A brilliantly researched and realized history, an essential addition to the literature of World War II.
The 1941 Battle of Moscow—unquestionably one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War—marked the first strategic defeat of the German armed forces in their seemingly unstoppable march across Europe. The Soviets lost many more people in that one battle than the British and Americans lost in the whole of the war. Now, with authority and narrative power, Rodric Braithwaite tells the story in large part through the individual experiences of ordinary Russian men and women.
Setting his narrative firmly against the background of Moscow and its people, Braithwaite begins in early 1941, when the Soviet Union was still untouched by the war raging to the west. We see how—despite abundant secret intelligence—the breaching of the border by the Wehrmacht in June took the country by surprise, and how, when the Germans pushed to Moscow in November, the Red Army and the capital’s inhabitants undertook to defend their city. Finally, in the winter of 1941–1942, they turned the Germans back on the very outskirts.
Braithwaite’s dramatic, richly illustrated narrative of the military action offers telling portraits of Stalin and his generals. By interweaving the personal remembrances of soldiers, politicians, writers, artists, workers, and schoolchildren, he gives us an unprecedented understanding of how the war affected the daily life of Moscow, and of the extraordinary bravery, endurance, and sacrifice—both voluntary and involuntary—that was required of its citizens.