The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943

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Overview

On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle in history began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk, on the western border of the Soviet Union. Code named “Operation Citadel,” the German offensive would cut through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany’s retreat at the battle of Stalingrad. But the Soviets, well-informed about Germany’s plans through their network of spies, had months to prepare. Two million men supported by 6,000 tanks, 35,000 guns, and 5,000 ...

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The Battle of the Tanks: Kursk, 1943

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Overview

On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle in history began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk, on the western border of the Soviet Union. Code named “Operation Citadel,” the German offensive would cut through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany’s retreat at the battle of Stalingrad. But the Soviets, well-informed about Germany’s plans through their network of spies, had months to prepare. Two million men supported by 6,000 tanks, 35,000 guns, and 5,000 aircraft convened in Kursk for an epic confrontation that was one of the most important military engagements in history, the epitome of “total war.” It was also one of the most bloody, and despite suffering seven times more casualties, the Soviets won a decisive victory that became a turning point in the war. With unprecedented access to the journals and testimonials of the officers, soldiers, political leaders, and citizens who lived through it, The Battle of the Tanks is the definitive account of an epic showdown that changed the course of history.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Royal Military Academy historian Clark offers a comprehensive analysis of WWII’s greatest land battle and one of history’s greatest armor engagements. He blends archival research, participant interviews, and professional insight in presenting the genesis, conduct, and consequences of the Battle of Kursk (German code name Operation Citadel). Particularly effective is his integration of foxhole and tank-crew perspectives with broader discussion of the course of a head-down slugging match that decisively tipped the Eastern Front’s balance in favor of a resurgent Red Army. The matrix of German defeat was “Hitler’s “confused strategic thinking,” which from the beginning set the Wehrmacht too many conflicting missions. But from its inception Operation Citadel was a tactical victory for the U.S.S.R. The Wehrmacht failed to break through the sophisticated Russian defense system and failed to wear down the Red Army’s offensive power. Kursk was the German tankers’ nadir. The losses of men and armor sustained there rendered it impossible to do more than check locally the measured sequence of attacks that earned the Red Army a decisive strategic triumph on the Eastern Front in less than two years. With this account, Clark (Operation Epsom) confirms his reputation as one of Britain’s outstanding scholars of operational military history. Maps. (Nov.)
Library Journal
In July 1943, two million men met outside of Kursk, 280 miles south of Moscow, as the Germans launched Operation Citadel in an effort to patch up their hold on vital Soviet territory after the retreat from Stalingrad. The Red Army victory was a turning point for the war. Senior academic in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's war studies department, Clark used new material from the Russian archives to bring us what will doubtless be a significant book.
Kirkus Reviews
A leading British military historian reconsiders the events of World War II—this time, on the decisive yet less-trammeled Eastern Front. The "lack of appreciation" in the West regarding the Soviet Union's massive resistance to the Nazi onslaught from June 1941 through July 1943 is gradually giving way to better understanding thanks to the opening of archives behind the former Iron Curtain. In this deeply informed overview, Clark (Crossing the Rhine: Breaking into Nazi Germany 1944 and 1945—The Greatest Airborne Battles in History, 2008, etc.) offers an authoritative appraisal of the "total war" engulfing both Germany and the Soviet Union. Clark begins with two comprehensive yet succinct chapters situating "The Origins of Annihilation" for both Germany and the Soviet Union from the end of War World I onward. When Hitler seized power, his aim to destroy the Soviets was unmistakable and clear. Meanwhile, Stalin's purges of the military, just as it was emerging a more modern, professional Red Army by 1937, rendered the Soviets vulnerable to Germany's aggression. While Germany began its eastern expansion in 1939, the Soviet Union was actually providing it tons of raw materials and grains, perversely allowing Hitler to establish the "timetable for attacking." Once the shock of the German blitzkrieg gave way to action, the Soviets gradually established a defensive belt that allowed them to hold off the Nazis from Smolensk, Moscow and Stalingrad. The "qualitative gap" between the German and Soviet armies was immense, but what the Soviets had were men to throw into the maw and an impressive production capacity—astutely moved east of Moscow. Gen. Georgy Zhukov's strategy of drawing out the Germans' advance to exhaust their resources, miring them in winter, essentially turned the conflict into "a slogging match"—it worked, but to the toll of 10 million Soviet dead. Vigorous depictions of German and Soviet military leaders alternate with the words of ordinary soldiers and richly described specifications of military hardware.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802119087
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 523,608
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lloyd Clark is a senior academic in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Professorial Research Fellow in War Studies, Humanities Research Institute, at University of Buckingham. One of the UK’s leading military historians, he is the author of Anzio and Crossing the Rhine.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Maps xiii

Introduction xv

Dramatis Personae xxi

Prologue xxiii

1 The Origins of Annihilation I: Germany and the Germans 1918-41 1

2 The Origins of Annihilation II: The Soviet Union and the Soviets 1918-41 35

3 Invasion: Barbarossa: December 1940-September 1941 67

4 Heading South: Moscow to Stalingrad: October 1941-early February 1943 117

5 Uneasy Calm: Zitadelle Preliminaries: February-July 1943 165

6 Breaking In: Zitadelle Launched: 5 July 219

7 Breaking Through: Zitadelle: 6-8 July 261

8 Anticipation: Zitadelle: 9-11 July 309

9 Finale: Zitadelle: 12 July and After 341

Conclusion 383

Epilogue 390

Notes 393

Bibliography 435

Order of Battle 448

Rank Equivalents 457

Index 459

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    excellant book

    an excellant book that leads you through the conflict, why it happened and what made the outcome so important

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 20, 2011

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    Posted December 12, 2011

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