Voices from Stalingrad: First-hand Accounts from World War II's Cruellest Battle
by Jonathan Bastable
Paperback: 336 pages
June 27, 2019
A Review by Brian Williams
From Voices from Stalingrad's back cover:
“Stalingrad was one of the most brutal and intense battles of World War II. At the end of the battles of World War II. At the end of the battle the city had been destroyed and the remnants of the German 6th Army surrendered to the Soviets in a decisive turning point of the war. In this new paperback edition of Voices From Stalingrad author Jonathan Bastable has woven together first-hand accounts of the German and Soviet soldiers who fought in the battle, as well as the testimony of Russian civilians caught up in the war on their streets and Western onlookers. These compelling accounts from over 100 sources include never-before-published material from German and KGB archives accompanied by rare photographs of the battle to present a fascinating narrative of the largest battle of World War II from the perspective of ordinary soldiers and civilians.”
The battle of Stalingrad has always been a fascinating battle for me to study. The German Army was still steam-rolling over the steppes of the Ukraine and seemingly unstoppable. But, unbeknownst to them, they had overstretched themselves to their ultimate breaking point. The rationale was if only they could take this last city on the western bank of the Volga, they could work on solidifying their front and move north and east. But, that determination cost the destruction of the German 6th Army, the surrounding Axis allied armies and resulted in the ultimate retreat of the entire German army.
Jonathan Bastable has written a masterful book – which could possibly one of my most favorite first-hand WWII account books in my library. It contains material that has never been published before and offers an incredible insight into the battle. It's a book that once you start reading, you won't be able to put down.
Bastable begins with giving the reader the full background of the battle by describing the players and the wartime situation. The first-hand accounts are given chronologically and we learn both about the battle (as it is develops) and what is actually like to be there. So as he teaches about the battle, the accounts are intermixed with Bastable's narration. This makes a perfect book that really brings to life the plight of the soldiers and civilians caught up in the battle.
I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best books I've read on WWII first-hand accounts and on the battle of Stalingrad.
About the Author:
Jonathan Bastable began his career as a feature writer for the The Sunday Times Magazine, and spent several years as a correspondent in Moscow. His work has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including The Sunday Times, The Scotsman, Wallpaper and Time Out. He has written on foreign destinations for Condé Nast Traveller and other magazines, and is the author of a number of books, including Voices From Stalingrad: Unique First-hand Accounts From World War II’s Cruellest Battle, Voices From the World of Samuel Pepys, Prime Ministers: Amazing & Extraordinary Facts and his first novel, Devil’s Acre: A Russian Novel.