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Thread: "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

  1. #1
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    Default "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

    For 60 years everything that we know about WWII on the “Eastern Front” has come to us through the German Memoirs, Records and War Diaries that VE Day saw "thrown open" to anyone who wished to view them. Now historian Catherine Merridale, sifting through over 200 documents --many of them recently released archival materials -- gives us a comprehensive portrait of “Ivan”,the common Russian soldier, as the forge of The Great Patriotic War transforms him from a badly trained, ill-equipped example of classic “Cannon Fodder” into a formidable Fighter who ultimately proves more than a march for Germany’s best.

    The overwhelming impression one gets from Merridale’s book is that Hitler not only miscalculated the numerical strength of the Enemy, but also its mood. He never imagined that a people already brutalized by Revolution, Civil War, and Draconian Oppression would be more than willing to take out decades of suppressed rage on an "Invader". “Blood, toil, tears and sweat” had after all been Russia’s almost daily fare since 1917. And when Stalin, having recalled his generals from prison or exile (contrary to popular belief very few were actually “executed”) demanded still more of the same, it caused no particular consternation among the rank-and-file.

    “Ivan” definitely emerges as a hero --not the squared-jawed patriot of the Stalinist posters, perhaps (Merridale makes perfectly clear all his faults, failings and inborn prejudices), but neither is he the mindless Asiatic of Goebbels’ propaganda, sweeping down on the faltering Germans in his “howling hordes”. Excerpts from journals and letters portray him as despairing in the beginning, hopeful after the “winter victory” at Stalingrad, and finally, after the “summer triumph” at Kursk, as rejuvenated, confident, and fired with a thirst for Vengeance. And just what heights (or depths) that Vengeance would reach is also unflinchingly catalogued, as Merridale recounts the arrival of the “Hour of Retribution” in East Prussia.

    Mixing historical events with veterans’ recollections, excerpts from officers' letters, notes and official Army reports, and injecting her own modern-day observations, Catherine Merridale produces an overview of the fatal “Clash of Titans” that is as engrossing as the best-written war novel. A must-read for any serious student of "The War In The East".....!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

    I had read this book couple years ago, and agree with you. Everybody interested in the Eastern Front should read it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

    A book about the common Soviet soldier's perspective sounds indeed interesting. I just ordered a copy for little money.
    "I just ran out of ammo. I will ram this one. Good bye, we'll meet in Valhalla." - Major Heinrich Ehrler, April 4, 1945

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

    Egorka has also posted his grandfather(?)'s memoirs on here, translated by him from the Russian. If you're interested in this book, make sure you read them too.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "Ivan's War" by Catherine Merridale

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    Egorka has also posted his grandfather(?)'s memoirs on here, translated by him from the Russian. If you're interested in this book, make sure you read them too.
    Yes, that Egorka is a little sunshine! Bad he is delayed with the rest of the story...

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