While the Battle of Kursk has long captivated World War II aficionados, it has been unjustly overlooked by historians. Drawing on the masses of new information made available by the opening of the Russian military archives, Dennis E. Showalter at last corrects that error. This battle was the critical turning point on World War II's Eastern Front. In the aftermath of the Red Army's brutal repulse of the Germans at Stalingrad, the stakes could not have been higher. More than 3,000,000 men and 8,000 tanks met in the heart of the Soviet Union, some 400 miles south of Moscow, in an encounter that both sides knew would reshape the war.
The adversaries were at the peak of their respective powers. On both sides, the generals and the dictators they served were in agreement on where, why, and how to fight. The result was a furious death grapple between two of history's most formidable fighting forces - a battle that might possibly have been the greatest of all time. In Armor and Blood, Showalter recreates every aspect of this dramatic struggle. He offers expert perspective on strategy and tactics at the highest levels, from the halls of power in Moscow and Berlin to the battlefield command posts on both sides. But it is the author's exploration of the human dimension of armored combat that truly distinguishes this book.
In the classic tradition of John Keegan's The Face of Battle, Showalter's narrative crackles with insight into the unique dynamics of tank warfare - its effect on men's minds as well as their bodies. Scrupulously researched, exhaustively documented, and vividly illustrated, this book is a chilling testament to man's ability to build and to destroy. When the dust settled, the field at Kursk was nothing more than a wasteland of steel carcasses, dead soldiers, and smoking debris. The Soviet victory ended German hopes of restoring their position on the Eastern Front, and put the Red Army on the road to Berlin. Armor and Blood presents listeners with what will likely be the authoritative study of Kursk for decades to come.
©2013 Dennis Showalter (P)2013 Tantor
Thanks to Rich for his "spot on" review. Also, his plea for more books like this instead of the drivel I scroll through every day as I look for new titles.
Inostrancevia - the uber Gorgonopsian.
Leibstandarte uber alles!
Prof. Showalter's account of the Battle of Kursk is military history at its best. He presents a thorough narrative of the respective operational histories of the combatants during this early July, 1943 battle. Also, the author shows his deep understanding of the psyche and motivations of the opposing sides.
Try to imagine: It is dawn on July 8, 1943. You are a 20 year old SS panzergrenadier riding with your squad in the back of a halftrack on your way to try to gain a few more kilometers north towards Oboyan, towards Kursk. As you and your commrades scan the sky for apprtoaching Sturmoviks you get that dreaded feeling once more in your gut about what awaits you in a mere handful of minutes in that clearing up ahead. Belts of buried mines, T-34's buried up to their turrets; manned by condemned crews sealed inside who know they must fight to the end and probably already consider themselves dead, batteries of camoflaged 76 mm "Rach Bum's" zeroed in on the treeline your APC is about to emerge from...... What an absolutely surreal, incredible (insert any superlaive you deem appropriate), situation. The Battle of Kursk is one of those human events that can only be understood by the participants themselves. Prof. Showalter understands and respects this unalterable truth and it shows in his writing.
Armor and Blood underlines the fact that Kursk was a bloody, mechanized maelstrom unlike any battle before or since. Nothing on the Western Front even came remotely close to Kursk in sheer weight of men, materiel and utter bowel loosening terror.
A understated yet authoritative narration that provided a sense of solemnity to the author's work. Mr. Dean was a good choice for this book.
The part describing the situation facing IISS Panzer Korps on the morning of the battle at Prokhorovka. It is hard to relate in words, but Prof. Showalter's writing about those few hours transported my mind so that I felt I was standing on a tall scaffolding just behind the mass of men watching and hearing this incredible human drama unfold before me. I was spellbound. As I type these words I remember the feeling I had listening to that part. That, my friends, is what a exceptional audio book can do.
Kudos to Audible for providing this book for us listeners. Less drivel about yet another shirtless, pouting, Highland bif romance and more quality writing about things / events that actually matter is always the right way to go.
This is an extremely readable overview of the Soviet-Nazi War from 1941-43. It provides an excellent overview of the pivotal tank battle of Kursk in July 1943. This is an excellent book to get started reading (or listening to) the immensity of the "Great Patriotic War". The book is not intended to be a detailed reference on the Battle of Kursk but it conveys the awesome size of the involvement. If you are searching detail on Prokoravka-Kursk then go to Zamulin's "Myths Uncovered" but for an overall understanding of the battle and its impact on the war, I highly recommend this book.
Non Fiction Reader
As a history buff, especially WWII, I am familiar with the Battle of Kursk. My recollection is that it was one of the, if not the, most horrific tank battles of WWII. I idd not even come close to that conclusion from this book. The author does a magnificant job of explaining the battle orders, what units were involved, how they moved, what they did but in the end, after all this detail, it is hard to grasp the significance of it all. The "seminal" battle gets lost in detail. I asked myself: is this the battle I read about where tanks were muzzle to muzzle and blasting each other at point- blank range? This is a book that should be read with a detailed map of the area, a plastic overlay and a grease pencil so the reader can plot all the units movements and see what it all means. I read this book while driving. At times I turned it off in mid sentence and it made no difference because the tale did not flow. I was listening to words and most often they were interchangable with the words before and after. I couldn't keep up with the individual battles and soon it made no difference. It's like watching a game (football, boxing, basketball, poker, chess, etc) and not knowing the rules and not being able to appreciate the tactics and strategies. People gasp in appreciation and you wonder what was missed. It's a shame given all the research the author has apparently put into this book. What would have made it better? Some sense of what the soldiers went through. More personal recollections, i.e. diary entries, letters home, etc, before, during and after. Some are given but it's more an after thought. Another thing that frustrated me was when a general was described as a staff officer and not a field officer. No description of the difference or how it may have impacted the battle. We know Hitler played a decision making role but his input is merely a passing reference. The best parts for me was the descriptions of how both the Russian and German soldiers were trained. How they felt towards each other and their adversaries. The best part for me was the conclusion...it lasted less than 30 minutes. It helped bring the battle into perspective; something the main test sorely misses.
Really can't keep track of this as a casual listener. Would frankly need day-by-day maps, and graphical heirarchies of both sides' leadership to understand this straight and unadorned description of events. The narrator does a great job with what's available, but it's too cold and detached to be compelling. The introduction states the author's wish to avoid "war porn" as he puts it, but I think he's gone overboard in leaving out the compelling human elements of this pivotal moment in Western history.
I listen to approximately 40 hours of audio books a month. I love audio books.
I bought this book when it first came out, it had no reviews or ratings. This is unusual for me but wow was I happy with my selection. I've listened to this book twice now and will probably listen a third time sooner than later. The author gives you an excellent view into the sacrifices made by both sides in this horrific and senseless conflict. The narration is first rate an excellent performance for an excellent book. I highly recommend Blood and Armor.
Dare to dream...
The first two hours and fifty minutes are a spread spectrum of political differences between Germany and Russia. The book is a sanitized analysis, rather than an in depth, enthralling story of the battle of Kursk. Except for the monotone delivery, there is no personality to the work.
good audio book with many interesting facts about the last major German offensive on the eastern front. Robertson dean is a competent but not terribly engaging narrator, but if you can get past the first one or two chapters he warms up and the experience becomes more immersive. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone interested in world war II history.
Excellent narrator. New archive documents show a different point of view from the past published accounts on the Battle Of Kursk. Very interesting and fast paced.
I found this to be a great in-depth look at the battle of Kursk that is very technical,which I like, but others don't. So I suggest reading the description of the book and if you don't like that approach to describing a battle then don't get it if you do then this will be a great book.
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