Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942

Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942

by David M. Glantz, Darin Grauberger
     
 

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One of the least-known stories of World War II, Operation Mars was an epic military disaster. Designed to dislodge the German Army from its position west of Moscow, Mars cost the Soviets an estimated 335,000 dead, missing, and wounded men and over 1,600 tanks. But in Russian history books, it was a battle that never happened—a historical debacle sacrificed to

Overview

One of the least-known stories of World War II, Operation Mars was an epic military disaster. Designed to dislodge the German Army from its position west of Moscow, Mars cost the Soviets an estimated 335,000 dead, missing, and wounded men and over 1,600 tanks. But in Russian history books, it was a battle that never happened—a historical debacle sacrificed to Stalin's postwar censorship.

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.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Glantz brings Operation Mars vividly to life.
New York Review of Books
This gripping study of the Soviet counter-offensive--a work of permanent value--reveals the full extent of Zhukov's failure.
International History Review
Shows how greatly Soviet leaders distorted the war's history in their attempts to present themselves as incapable of error.
World War II
Vivid, powerful, compelling.
Library Journal
Forgotten by history and virtually denied by the Soviet Union, the disastrous Russian defeat of 1942 in Operation Mars is finally exposed in Glantz's exhaustive study of this massive battle on the Eastern Front. Glantz, a U.S. Army historian specializing in Russian military operations, uses memoirs, official reports, and previously hidden archival sources to create a comprehensive view of this gigantic Soviet operation against the Germans just west of Moscow. Operation Mars was commanded by Georgy Zhukov, one of Stalin's most trusted generals. Zhukov threw hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands of tanks against the entrenched Germans but was utterly crushed. Glantz explores the Soviets' strategic, operational, and tactical planning and execution of this offensive, with particular attention to Zhukov and his subordinates. The numerous maps and orders of battle are essential for a clear understanding of the scope of this major Soviet offensive and its complete failure. Recommended for public and academic libraries.--Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (ret.), Brunswick, ME
Booknews
One of the least-known stories of WWII was Operation Mars, a Soviet operation designed to dislodge the German Army from its position west of Moscow. This account of a catastrophe censored from postwar Soviet histories reveals key players and details major events, using sources in German and Russian archives to reconstruct the historical context of Operation Mars and review the entire operation from High Command to platoon level. Includes b&w photos and maps. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
Kirkus Reviews
A meticulous, scholarly study of one of the great land battles of WWII, from from the founder of the US Army's Foreign Military Studies Office and editor of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies. Marshal Georgy Zhukov has long been considered one of the exceptional Soviet generals of WWII, the hero of the Siege of Stalingrad who brilliantly encircled the German attacking army and obliterated it. Despite this victory and Zhukov's drive to be the first Soviet general to conquer Berlin, his career in the "Great Patriotic War" was not without its setbacks. Primary of these was Operation Mars, in November 1942. Mars was the companion to the Soviet counterattack at Stalingrad (code-named Operation Uranus) and was key to Soviet attempts to regain the offensive. Glantz's writing of the history of the campaign, while thick with facts and figures, is unassailable. By pulling apart German and Russian reports and communications, as well as later histories, he creates the definitive account of the battle. He assesses the reasons for the failure, which include improper artillery support, poor training of such critical elements as tank crews, a Red Army that lacked winter clothing, and the necessity (due to the high personnel losses in the army) of using officers who had earlier been judged unfit for service. Though most of this prodigious book is filled with the details of strategy and counterstrategy, there are points at which the fascinating characters of Zhukov and his officers shine through and offer a compelling narrative. Top-end scholarship that is too dense for all but the most dedicated aficionados of the Soviet-German conflict. Nonetheless, an important study that should rest on the shelfnext to last summer's brilliant, and more readable, Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. (photos, maps, not seen) (History Book Club Main selection)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700614172
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
09/28/2005
Series:
Modern War Studies Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
421
Sales rank:
1,214,637
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.92(d)

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