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David Glantz now offers the first definitive account of this forgotten catastrophe, ...
David Glantz now offers the first definitive account of this forgotten catastrophe, revealing the key players and detailing the major events of Operation Mars. Using neglected sources in both German and Russian archives, he reconstructs the historical context of Mars and reviews the entire operation from High Command to platoon level.
Orchestrated and led by Marshal Georgi Kostantinovich Zhukov, one of the Soviet Union's great military heroes, the twin operations Mars and Uranus formed the centerpiece of Soviet strategic efforts in the fall of 1942. Launched in tandem with Operation Uranus, the successful counteroffensive at Stalingrad, Mars proved a monumental setback. Fought in bad weather and on impossible terrain, the ambitious offensive faltered despite spectacular initial success in some sectors: Zhukov kept sending in more troops and tanks only to see them decimated by the entrenched Germans.
Illuminating the painful progress of Operation Mars with vivid battle scenes and numerous maps and illustrations, Glantz presents Mars as a major failure of Zhukov's renowned command. Yet, both during and after the war, that failure was masked from public view by the successful Stalingrad operation, thus eliminating any stain from Zhukov's public image as a hero of the Great Patriotic War.
For three grueling weeks, Operation Mars was one of the most tragic and agonizing episodes in Soviet military history. Glantz's reconstruction of that failed offensive fills a major gap in our knowledge of World War II, even as it raises important questions about the reputations of national military heroes.
-To Stalingrad: The Wehrmacht and Operation Blau
-Halting the German Juggernaut: Not a Step Back
-Thunder in the North
-Counteroffensive of the Gods: The Genesis of Operations Mars, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter
-On the Eve
Two. The Red God of War Unleashed
-Storm along the Vazuza River
-The Belyi Deep Thrust
-The Advance up the Luchesa Valley
-The Assault across the Molodoi Tud River
Three. The Red God of War Contained
-The Sychevka Meat Grinder
-Formation of the Belyi Pocket
-Stalemate in the Luchesa Valley
-The Struggle for Urdom
Four. Frustration, Fury, and Defeat
-The Encirclement and Destruction of the Belyi Pocket
-Reinforcing Failure along the Vazuza River
-Exhaustion in the North
-Defeat in the Luchesa River Valley
-The Eclipse of Mars and the Demise of Jupiter
-The Achievements of Uranus and Transformation of Saturn
-The Reputations of Gods and Men
-From the Archives: Selective Orders and Directives from Operation Mars
-Red Army Command Personnel in Operation Mars
-Orders of Battle
-Comparative Data on Operations
-Postscript on Losses
Posted December 17, 2012
As the reviewer "The_Paradox" mentioned, there was more focus on the Russian vs. German perspective (probably 2:1), and would also agree that it is a good resource. I, however, found that the story didn't come to life as the scope and scale of the battle/campaign make it difficult to develop detail with which one can emotionally connect. The book generally strung together factual actions and results of those actions by the combatants in an organized fashion. The front-end of the book spent some time modestly developing the key characters, but lacked a deep probe of how the characters, their relationships and motivations impacted the conflict and its outcome (e.g., Zhukov, Stalin and higher-ranking players - who was aggressive, who was deliberate, what were the politics inside the Russian and German war machines, etc.).
For comparison, see "The Battle of the Generals: The Untold Story of the Falaise Pocket-The Campaign That Should Have Won World War II". In that book ... not trying to put in a plug, just explain where I think this book is lacking ... the character development of key participants, their relationships, motivations, personalities and actions develops interest at a more personal level, and contributes to an explanation of results beyond "this division's attack was repulsed by this regiment's defense". It would have also been interesting to see some comparison of the combatants relative effectiveness through a post-mortem assessment. I have focused on the negatives, but would still like to suggest that this work is worth reading if simply not for an insight into a little written about battle of such significance.
There were the factual components of the Russian failure, including weather, weariness of troops who were asked to fight without relief and appropriate reserves, etc., but my guess is that there was so much more to the success and failure - maybe the relative strength, training and armaments, the ambitious reach of the plan and strategy, conflicts in leadership, etc., and this is why this book gets 3 stars in my opinion - but still a worthwhile read, if somewhat tedious read.
Posted February 27, 2010
In this book Glantz highlights a mostly forgotten defeat of the Russians against Army Group Center. His authoritative use of extensive research shows the reader a view from the conscript with a rifle on up. While he spends the majority of the book on the Russians, he also does examine some of the moves by the Germans and has some interesting pages about von Arnim and the Germans who were facing off the Russian hordes.
Filled in the back of the book with appendexes and after-action information, this book is an invaluable resource and I would highly recommend it to other historians.
Posted October 31, 2002