Widely regarded as the most accomplished general of World War II, the Soviet military legend Marshal Georgy Zhukov at last gets the full-scale biographical treatment he has long deserved.
A man of indomitable will and fierce determination, Georgy Zhukov was the Soviet Union’s indispensable commander through every one of the critical turning points of World War II. It was Zhukov who saved Leningrad from capture by the Wehrmacht in September 1941, Zhukov who led the defense of Moscow in October 1941, Zhukov who spearheaded the Red Army’s march on Berlin and formally accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender in the spring of 1945. Drawing on the latest research from recently opened Soviet archives, including the uncensored versions of Zhukov’s own memoirs, Roberts offers a vivid portrait of a man whose tactical brilliance was matched only by the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which he pursued his battlefield objectives.
After the war, Zhukov was a key player on the geopolitical scene. As Khrushchev’s defense minister, he was one of the architects of Soviet military strategy during the Cold War. While lauded in the West as a folk hero—he was the only Soviet general ever to appear on the cover of Time magazine—Zhukov repeatedly ran afoul of the Communist political authorities. Wrongfully accused of disloyalty, he was twice banished and erased from his country’s official history—left out of books and paintings depicting Soviet World War II victories. Piercing the hyperbole of the Zhukov personality cult, Roberts debunks many of the myths that have sprung up around Zhukov’s life and career to deliver fresh insights into the marshal’s relationships with Stalin, Khrushchev, and Eisenhower.
A remarkably intimate portrait of a man whose life was lived behind an Iron Curtain of official secrecy, Stalin’s General is an authoritative biography that restores Zhukov to his rightful place in the twentieth-century military pantheon.
From the Hardcover edition.
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From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent perspective 3.5 Stars This is the first account I've read on Marshall Georgy. All other works detailed his tactical abilities around Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk. They weren't all encompassing and provided more of a larger brush stoke on his career. The first three quarters of the book pretty much rehashed many of the facts I was aware of. In fact, at times I wondered if the author was talking about Zhukov or trying to give a full history of Stavka during the perilous first years of WWII. Now the last quarter of the book is what I was looking for. Insightful information not previously known to novice or even esteemed historians . This was well worth the wait. I was not aware of the personal attacks he endured after leading the USSR to its greatest victory ever. His accomplishments were not only his legacy but his demise. We in the West could only read papers or listen on the news as to how the communist government treated those they felt a threat. It was fascinating how many times he escaped the executioners wrath under Stalin, Krushchev and Brezhnev. How many men could have endured such attacks in any army? The most interesting part was no matter how many times he was attacked or accused of being an instigator against the state, he never wavered or blamed lessor men. He remained a staunch supporter of Stalin and the Communist Regime. How many Germans who went on trial at Nuremberg attempted to blame their dead superiors for the atrocities they carried out in the name of National Socialism? The one area that wasn't covered was the release of German POW'S. This topic was completely over looked. Why? The west was demanding they be released but there is no mention of this. Again, why was this not addressed? As far as Zhukov being a harsh commander, of course he was, along with the rest of the Russian generals and Political Commissioners such as Krushchev. In Guderian's memoirs he was appalled at how the Russians kept coming at his troops with no hope of winning. He described the dead as "cord wood piling up." He was disgusted with the waste of lives the Russians kept throwing into the guns of the Wehrmacht. These tactics might seem barbaric to those of us in the west, but the tactics kept slowing down the German advance. Do I find fault with the Marshall for using such strategies? No. If he refused to discipline his men, he himself would have been disciplined and perhaps imprisoned and shot for disregarding his superior:Stalin. Overall, this a very good work and should be read by all historians, novice and professional who are looking for the truth.
This is a very useful biography of Georgy Zhukov, the greatest general of the Second World War, by Geoffrey Roberts, author of Stalin’s wars and Victory at Stalingrad. Roberts is professor and head of the School of History at University College Cork. In August 1939, Zhukov defeated Japanese forces at the battle of Khalkhin-Gol in Mongolia, a victory which stopped the Soviet Union facing a two-front war. Roberts explains Stalin’s actions before the invasion of the Soviet Union: “Stalin also feared that premature mobilisation could accelerate the outbreak of hostilities with Hitler. ‘Mobilization means war’, he told Zhukov, mindful of the precedent of the July Crisis of 1914 that led to the First World War” when Germany declared war on Russia in reply to Russia’s mobilisation. Roberts also explains Hitler’s early successes: “German military successes … were to be expected from a combat-hardened army that had conquered Poland, France, and most of the rest of Europe.” Zhukov led the Yel’nya offensive in August-September 1941, the Red Army’s first major victory over the Wehrmacht, which delayed the Nazis’ advance on Moscow for several vital weeks. Later, he saved Leningrad from capture, and stopped the Nazi advance on Moscow. He played a key role in the Soviet counter-attack at Stalingrad. “Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for Hitler’s Axis alliance.” Soviet forces there routed Hitler and his allies who lost 50 divisions and suffered 1.5 million casualties. Zhukov conducted the battle of Kursk. He also coordinated Operation Bagration, which shattered Hitler’s Army Group Centre, and he led the final assault on Berlin. Like Oliver Cromwell, Zhukov never lost a battle. Roberts concludes, “If Zhukov was the greatest general of the Second World War – in the sense that he made a decisive contribution to all the war’s significant turning points – it was not through his efforts alone. He was a member of a Soviet High Command that collectively performed brilliantly. Arguably it was Stalin’s management of his generals that mattered as much as their individual talents, skills, and exploits. By using his leadership and authority to create a coherent group of powerful and often clashing personalities, Stalin elicited the best from their individual and collective talents, and inspired and demanded a loyalty that held them together through disaster and triumph.” As Zhukov wrote of Stalin, “He could find the main link in a strategic situation which he seized upon in organising actions against the enemy, and thus assured the success of offensive operations. It is beyond question that he was a splendid Supreme Commander-in-Chief.”