Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

by Catherine Merridale
3.9 12

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 by Catherine Merridale

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan — as the ordinary Russian soldier was called — remain a mystery. We know something about hoe the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought.

Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with veterans, and private letters and diaries, Catherine Merridale presents the first comprehensive history of the Soviet Union Army rank and file. She follows the soldiers from the shock of the German invasion to their costly triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through the soldiers' eyes, we witness their victorious arrival in Berlin, where their rage and suffering exact an awful toll, and accompany them as they return home full of hope, only to be denied the new life they had been fighting to secure.

A tour de force of original research and a gripping history, Ivan's War reveals the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In the process Merridale restores to history the invisible millions who sacrificed the most to win the war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805074550
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/24/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.41(w) x 9.42(h) x 1.53(d)

About the Author

Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth-Century Russia. The professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, New Statesman, and the Independent.

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Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is a fairly good insight into the thoughts of Soviet soldiers and civilians during world war 2. It also goes into the pre/post war a bit. My largest complaint about the book is that it is a book with peaks and valleys in flow. It is very interesting and compelling read at times while slowing to a crawl. Most often these slower sections are when the author diverges thoughts from soldiers (I only point out soldiers as it only briefly touches on civilian life) and goes into her synopsis or views on what the soldiers told. Overall though I would say it is a worthwhile book for those looking for a view of the war on the Eastern Front that is often looked at less than overall strategies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not the usual military history reference or textbook. This is a very well written book on the soldiers of the Red Army, how they lived and unfortunately how they suffered and died en masse.Now that the archives in Russia are open for study, this author delved into the lives, such as they were, of the simple trooper and the junior grade officers of the Red Army. The book can not help but show the brutal, inhuman killer regime headed by Stalin. This figure does not come through as a pathological killer obsessed by racial fantasies like Hitler. Stalin comes through as eminently sane dictator who uses mass killing simply as a tool, somewhat like a carpenter uses the hammer and with about as much emotion. Whether the Politruks eliminate the dissenters and deserters or whether the Stavka orders headlong suicidal charges into German machine guns and artillery barrages we can see how the Soviet government holds life cheap. Eight million military deaths most of them preventable by good leadership and training would be unthinkable in any society except Soviet Communism.This book provides those insights and it presents the thoughtful reader with but one question: What took this system so long to fall? I gave it four stars instead of five simply because there were minor factual errors and omissions.For example one of the most admired men in the defense of Stalingrad was General Rodimstev whose name is immortalized in the ruins of the tractor factory where the men about to die scratched the words 'Rodimstev's Guardsmen fought and died here for their motherland (rodina)'.He gets virtually no mention. Also the planning for the Stalingrad encirclement was done by Zhukov and Vassilevsky assisted by the best brain in the Stavka-General Antonov. Again no mention made. Rokossovsky is deservedly mentioned, but Romanenko and Chistyakov, the actual leaders of the pincers, are not. Minor ommissions but I knocked off a star, since this book competes with such five star masterpieces as Tuchmans 'Proud Tower' and Massie's 'Castles of Steel'
Anonymous 5 months ago
After the catastrophies of the 20th century i.e. WW1 , revolution , forced collectivism & famine, Stalin's purges , WW2 & the cold war , one wonders how any Russians survived at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written with new historical information, not many first hand accounts but, a good read none the less ......RjP
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Ivan's War digs deep into the personal accounts of the eastern front during WWII. Merridale highlights many of the facts she discovered once the Russian archives were opened during the 1990s. A must read for any history buff interested in WWII or the USSR