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Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939--1945

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Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939--1945 Cover

ISBN13: 9780312426521
ISBN10: 0312426526
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources.

Of the thirty million who fought, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan — as the ordinary Russian soldier was called — remain a mystery. We know something about hoe the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought.

Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with veterans, and private letters and diaries, Catherine Merridale presents the first comprehensive history of the Red Army rank and file. She follows the soldiers from the shock of the German invasion to their costly triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through the soldiers' eyes, we witness their victorious arrival in Berlin, where their rage and suffering exact an awful toll, and accompany them as they return home full of hope, only to be denied the new life they had been fighting to secure.

A tour de force of original research and a gripping history, Ivan&'s War reveals the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In the process Merridale restores to history the invisible millions who sacrificed the most to win the war.

Review:

"Thirty million men and women served in the Red Army during WWII. Over eight million of them died. Living or dead, they have remained anonymous. This is partly due to the Soviet Union's policy of stressing the collective nature of its sacrifice and victory. It also reflects the continuing reluctance of most Soviet veterans to discuss their experiences — in sharp contrast to German survivors of the Eastern Front. Merridale, professor of history at the University of London, combines interviews, letters and diaries with research in previously closed official archives to present the first comprehensive portrait of the Red Army's fighters. She carefully details the soldiers' age and ethnic diversity, and she puts a human face on a fact demonstrated repeatedly by retired U.S. officer and Soviet military expert David Glantz: the Red Army learned from the experience of its near-collapse in 1941, and by 1945 its soldiers were more than a match for their Wehrmacht opponents. Most poignantly, Merridale reveals that frontline soldiers increasingly hoped their sacrifices would bring about postwar reform — 'Communism with a human face.' What they got instead was a Stalinist crackdown — and a long silence, broken now by this outstanding book." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection....She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war." New York Times

Review:

"A powerful, intimate, and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of the archetypal Russian infantryman who suffered greatly, often at the hands of his own countrymen." Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"[Merridale] has packed 388 pages of text with a tightly edited, well-paced and very readable account." Seattle Times

Review:

"For this impressive book, Merridale has mined a vastness of resources on the Russian experience of World War II only recently opened to Western researchers." Booklist

Review:

"What this engaged study sometimes lacks in narrative thrust it makes up for in spades with its harrowing and deeply compassionate portrait of the individual Ivans." Library Journal

Review:

"Unprecedented in its approach, Catherine Merridale's research into the lives of Red Army soldiers combined with her perception makes this a most fascinating and important work." Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad

Review:

"Merridale's new book is excellent....It makes the soldiers of the Red Army come alive." Stanley Payne, Hilldale-Jaume Vicens Vives Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Review:

"Ivan's War is a marvelous book....Catherine Merridale is a superb historian, among the very best of her generation." Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

Review:

"Catherine Merridale has done something very unusual. The Soviet war effort has been described many times but her new book tells the searing story from the bottom up. Her account of the sufferings of the Red Army soldiers and their families is unlikely to be bettered." Robert Service, author of Stalin: A Biography

Review:

"[Merridale] succeeds admirably in fashioning a compelling portrait, helped immensely by her talent as a writer." Foreign Affairs

Review:

"Newly opened archives; recently discovered secret diaries and letters; and interviews with more than 200 veterans enable Merridale to narrate in gripping detail the epic tank battle of Kursk." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This is an inventively researched and evocatively written study of the Soviet soldier on the blood-ridden Eastern Front....Merridale has provided an empathetic and realistic portrait of the men and women who, more than any other combat soldiers, brought down the Third Reich." Norman M. Naimark , author of The Russians in Germany and Fires of Hatred

Synopsis:

They died in vast numbers, eight million men and women driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the soldiers of the Red Army, an exhausted mass of recruits who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. For sixty years, their experiences were suppressed, replaced by patriotic propaganda. We know how the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought. In this ambitious, revelatory history, Catherine Merridale uncovers the harrowing story of who these soldiers were, and how they lived and died during the war.

Synopsis:

They died in vast numbers, eight million men and women driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the soldiers of the Red Army, an exhausted mass of recruits who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. For sixty years, their experiences were suppressed, replaced by patriotic propaganda. We know how the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought. In this ambitious, revelatory history, Catherine Merridale uncovers the harrowing story of who these soldiers were, and how they lived and died during the war. Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone, winner of Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature. The professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Independent. A Choice Outstanding Academic Title They died in vast numbers, eight million soldiers shattered by German shells and tanks, frozen behind the wire of prison camps, driven forward in suicidal charges by the Russian secret police. They were the men and women of the Red Army, Stalin's famous cannon fodder, a ragtag mass of recruits who confronted the most lethal professional fighting force on the continent and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since the Red Army's epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan--as the ordinary Russian soldier was called--remain a mystery. We know something of how the Russian soldiers died but nearly nothing about how they lived, let alone how they saw the world, or why they fought.

Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with surviving soldiers, and private letters and dairies, Catherine Merridale presents here the history of the thirty million soldiers of the Red Army. She follows them from the initial shock of the German invasion and the first days of the national emergency to the costly Soviet triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through their eyes we witness the battle of Kursk, the most terrible tank fight in history, and the victory in Berlin, where soldiers' rage and suffering exact their awful toll. Finally, Merridale accompanies the soldiers as they return home full of hope, only to be robbed of the new life they had been fighting to secure.

At once a narrative of the eastern front and a gripping history of Stalin's conscripts, Ivan's War allows us to understand the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In a work of investigation, Catherine Merridale has rescued the Russian rank and file from the official piety of war memorials and restored to them the voice that they have long been denied. Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection. Ms. Merridale, proceeding from campaign to campaign, describes from the top down and from the bottom up. She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war, and at the same time focuses on how such changes were reflected in the day-to-day experiences and feelings of the troops on the ground . . . She is unsparing in her account of the terror unleashed on German civilians, but scathing about the world to which the veterans returned.--William Grimes, The New York Times Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection. Ms. Merridale, proceeding from campaign to campaign, describes from the top down and from the bottom up. She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war, and at the same time focuses on how such changes were reflected in the day-to-day experiences and feelings of the troops on the ground . . . She is unsparing in her account of the terror unleashed on German civilians, but scathing about the world to which the veterans returned.--William Grimes, The New York Times

Merridale has done an admirable job of collecting testimony from war veterans (she and her assistants conducted about 200 interviews) . . . It is to Merridale's great credit that she lets us listen to what her verterans had to say, even when it wasn't what she herself wanted to hear.--Sheila Fitzpatrick, The New York Times Book Review Drawing on numerous interviews and testimony of veterans, Merridale] offers revealing insights into the everyday life of soldiers . . . H]er detached analysis complements the eyewitness accounts.--Andrew Nagorski, The Washington Post No army in history suffered causalities in numbers quite like the Russian Red Army. More than 8 million of its soldiers died during World War II, and in this profoundly empathic work of history, Catherine Merridale gets to the bottom of why they were so willing to do so . . . Drawing on letters, diaries, and formerly sealed archives, Ivan's War bears out this emotion in the words of the men who felt it, giving a face and a voice to the 30 million soldiers who bore the burden of bringing the German war machine to its knees, then running out from beneath it as it fell.--John Freeman, Newsday

Catherine Merridale has picked the locks that kept this history hidden. . . . essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of the time.--The Economist

A] breathtaking, sweeping, yet well-balanced and finely tuned study.--The Times Literary Supplement (London)

With extraordinary patience and a wonderful ear for nuance . . . Merridale] produces what may be the best historical portrait of life in the Red Army yet published.--Anne Applebaum, The New York Review of Books Succeeds admirably in fashioning a compelling portrait, helped immensely by

About the Author

Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone, winner of Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature. A professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Independent and regularly presents history features for the BBC.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

gknenahoro, January 23, 2007 (view all comments by gknenahoro)
This is an excellent work giving real insight into the emotions & motivations of the rank & file Russian infantryman. It takes you right into the hopes and fears of a previously neglected and mysterious soldier. It humanizes that seething mass of humanity who walked the bloodstained path from the terrible defeats of 1941 to the bloodsoaked victories from Kursk onwards. It's not te same type of work as Beevor's "Stalingrad" or Hasting's "The Last Battle",buty in it's own way is equally pivotal in understanding a collective who changed history. Merridale has researched in great detail and laid out her findings in a gripping and easy to understand account of soldiers that were once dehumanized by our lack of familiarity with them. "Ivan" will become as real to the reader as the men of the 101st Airborne, The Big Red One, The Rangers and The Rag Tag Circus. We already have profound respect for men like Zhukov, Rokossovskiy, Konev & Vasilievskiy, and now we know about the men and women they lead.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(17 of 31 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312426521
Author:
Merridale, Catherine
Publisher:
Picador USA
Subject:
Military - World War II
Subject:
Russia (pre & post Soviet Union)
Subject:
Europe - Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Subject:
Military-World War II General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 24 black-and-white photographs
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8.41 x 5.44 x 0.85 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » General
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » Europe » General
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » World History » Russia

Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939--1945 Used Trade Paper
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Picador USA - English 9780312426521 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Thirty million men and women served in the Red Army during WWII. Over eight million of them died. Living or dead, they have remained anonymous. This is partly due to the Soviet Union's policy of stressing the collective nature of its sacrifice and victory. It also reflects the continuing reluctance of most Soviet veterans to discuss their experiences — in sharp contrast to German survivors of the Eastern Front. Merridale, professor of history at the University of London, combines interviews, letters and diaries with research in previously closed official archives to present the first comprehensive portrait of the Red Army's fighters. She carefully details the soldiers' age and ethnic diversity, and she puts a human face on a fact demonstrated repeatedly by retired U.S. officer and Soviet military expert David Glantz: the Red Army learned from the experience of its near-collapse in 1941, and by 1945 its soldiers were more than a match for their Wehrmacht opponents. Most poignantly, Merridale reveals that frontline soldiers increasingly hoped their sacrifices would bring about postwar reform — 'Communism with a human face.' What they got instead was a Stalinist crackdown — and a long silence, broken now by this outstanding book." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection....She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war."
"Review" by , "A powerful, intimate, and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of the archetypal Russian infantryman who suffered greatly, often at the hands of his own countrymen."
"Review" by , "[Merridale] has packed 388 pages of text with a tightly edited, well-paced and very readable account."
"Review" by , "For this impressive book, Merridale has mined a vastness of resources on the Russian experience of World War II only recently opened to Western researchers."
"Review" by , "What this engaged study sometimes lacks in narrative thrust it makes up for in spades with its harrowing and deeply compassionate portrait of the individual Ivans."
"Review" by , "Unprecedented in its approach, Catherine Merridale's research into the lives of Red Army soldiers combined with her perception makes this a most fascinating and important work."
"Review" by , "Merridale's new book is excellent....It makes the soldiers of the Red Army come alive."
"Review" by , "Ivan's War is a marvelous book....Catherine Merridale is a superb historian, among the very best of her generation."
"Review" by , "Catherine Merridale has done something very unusual. The Soviet war effort has been described many times but her new book tells the searing story from the bottom up. Her account of the sufferings of the Red Army soldiers and their families is unlikely to be bettered."
"Review" by , "[Merridale] succeeds admirably in fashioning a compelling portrait, helped immensely by her talent as a writer."
"Review" by , "Newly opened archives; recently discovered secret diaries and letters; and interviews with more than 200 veterans enable Merridale to narrate in gripping detail the epic tank battle of Kursk."
"Review" by , "This is an inventively researched and evocatively written study of the Soviet soldier on the blood-ridden Eastern Front....Merridale has provided an empathetic and realistic portrait of the men and women who, more than any other combat soldiers, brought down the Third Reich."
"Synopsis" by ,
They died in vast numbers, eight million men and women driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the soldiers of the Red Army, an exhausted mass of recruits who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. For sixty years, their experiences were suppressed, replaced by patriotic propaganda. We know how the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought. In this ambitious, revelatory history, Catherine Merridale uncovers the harrowing story of who these soldiers were, and how they lived and died during the war.
"Synopsis" by , They died in vast numbers, eight million men and women driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the soldiers of the Red Army, an exhausted mass of recruits who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. For sixty years, their experiences were suppressed, replaced by patriotic propaganda. We know how the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought. In this ambitious, revelatory history, Catherine Merridale uncovers the harrowing story of who these soldiers were, and how they lived and died during the war. Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone, winner of Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature. The professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Independent. A Choice Outstanding Academic Title They died in vast numbers, eight million soldiers shattered by German shells and tanks, frozen behind the wire of prison camps, driven forward in suicidal charges by the Russian secret police. They were the men and women of the Red Army, Stalin's famous cannon fodder, a ragtag mass of recruits who confronted the most lethal professional fighting force on the continent and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since the Red Army's epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan--as the ordinary Russian soldier was called--remain a mystery. We know something of how the Russian soldiers died but nearly nothing about how they lived, let alone how they saw the world, or why they fought.

Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with surviving soldiers, and private letters and dairies, Catherine Merridale presents here the history of the thirty million soldiers of the Red Army. She follows them from the initial shock of the German invasion and the first days of the national emergency to the costly Soviet triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through their eyes we witness the battle of Kursk, the most terrible tank fight in history, and the victory in Berlin, where soldiers' rage and suffering exact their awful toll. Finally, Merridale accompanies the soldiers as they return home full of hope, only to be robbed of the new life they had been fighting to secure.

At once a narrative of the eastern front and a gripping history of Stalin's conscripts, Ivan's War allows us to understand the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In a work of investigation, Catherine Merridale has rescued the Russian rank and file from the official piety of war memorials and restored to them the voice that they have long been denied. Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection. Ms. Merridale, proceeding from campaign to campaign, describes from the top down and from the bottom up. She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war, and at the same time focuses on how such changes were reflected in the day-to-day experiences and feelings of the troops on the ground . . . She is unsparing in her account of the terror unleashed on German civilians, but scathing about the world to which the veterans returned.--William Grimes, The New York Times Ivan's War combines, quite effectively, painstaking historical reconstruction and sympathetic projection. Ms. Merridale, proceeding from campaign to campaign, describes from the top down and from the bottom up. She provides a coherent picture of the tactical decisions and industrial adjustments that altered the course of the war, and at the same time focuses on how such changes were reflected in the day-to-day experiences and feelings of the troops on the ground . . . She is unsparing in her account of the terror unleashed on German civilians, but scathing about the world to which the veterans returned.--William Grimes, The New York Times

Merridale has done an admirable job of collecting testimony from war veterans (she and her assistants conducted about 200 interviews) . . . It is to Merridale's great credit that she lets us listen to what her verterans had to say, even when it wasn't what she herself wanted to hear.--Sheila Fitzpatrick, The New York Times Book Review Drawing on numerous interviews and testimony of veterans, Merridale] offers revealing insights into the everyday life of soldiers . . . H]er detached analysis complements the eyewitness accounts.--Andrew Nagorski, The Washington Post No army in history suffered causalities in numbers quite like the Russian Red Army. More than 8 million of its soldiers died during World War II, and in this profoundly empathic work of history, Catherine Merridale gets to the bottom of why they were so willing to do so . . . Drawing on letters, diaries, and formerly sealed archives, Ivan's War bears out this emotion in the words of the men who felt it, giving a face and a voice to the 30 million soldiers who bore the burden of bringing the German war machine to its knees, then running out from beneath it as it fell.--John Freeman, Newsday

Catherine Merridale has picked the locks that kept this history hidden. . . . essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of the time.--The Economist

A] breathtaking, sweeping, yet well-balanced and finely tuned study.--The Times Literary Supplement (London)

With extraordinary patience and a wonderful ear for nuance . . . Merridale] produces what may be the best historical portrait of life in the Red Army yet published.--Anne Applebaum, The New York Review of Books Succeeds admirably in fashioning a compelling portrait, helped immensely by

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