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Battle of the Cities (Hardback)

Urban Warfare on the Eastern Front

Military P&S History > By Century > 20th Century WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Russia & the Eastern Front

By Anthony Tucker-Jones
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 60 mono integrated, b&w plate section
ISBN: 9781399072007
Published: 5th May 2023


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The Stalingrad battle and the Leningrad siege were just two of the brutal, devastating urban conflicts that marked the awful struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The cities were strategic fixed points in the sweeping advances and retreats of the opposing armies across eastern Europe. Yet no one has concentrated on these city battles before or has sought to tell the story of the campaigns through the fighting that took place in and around them. That is Anthony Tucker-Jones’s purpose in this concise and vivid history of the urban war on the Eastern Front.

Early in the war, during the Wehrmacht’s crushing offensives of 1941 and 1942, the Red Army was forced out of a series of key cities. Moscow was threatened, Leningrad surrounded. Then, after the climactic battle at Stalingrad, the Red Army with increasing confidence, speed and power drove the Germans from the Soviet and East European capitals they had occupied. The final urban battles were fought in Germany's cities, culminating in Berlin.

As he traces the course of the fighting for each city, Anthony Tucker-Jones looks at the local circumstances, the opposing forces, the strategic significance and the tactics employed. He focuses not only on the destruction and cruelty of such warfare, but on the heroism displayed on both sides and on the fate of the civilians who found themselves on the front line.

"A must read for anyone seeking to learn about the brutality of urban warfare on the Eastern Front in World War Two."

Classic Military Vehicle Magazine - Issue 272, January 2024

"Battle of the Cities: Urban Warfare on the Eastern Front" is deftly organized into four major parts (The Relentless Nazi Tide; Breakwater Cities; Lifting the Nazi Yoke; Final Agonies), and features two sections devoted to historic B/W photos, two Appendices (German Siege Weapons; Soviet Siege Weapons), a five page Bibliography, and a nine page Index. A seminal and groundbreaking study from start to finish, "Battle of the Cities" is an exceptional and highly recommended pick for personal, community, and college/university library World War II (European Theatre) history collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, military history buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Battle of the Cities" is also available in a digital book format.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

"It's very readable and you can dip in and out on battles that are of particular interest."

The Armourer - November 2023

'...if you are seeking an army-level view of battles around a city, this one's superb.'

Full review available at:

Russ Lockwood, Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

‘Tucker-Jones’ prose is sharp as ever, offering an explanation about why a city was important in WWII, followed by superb analysis of operations to conquer or defend it. All the chapters are excellent, but two deserved special mention: the German drive on Grozny offers exceptional insight about the attack and defense, and the Romanian attack on Odessa.’

Russ Lockward, Editor, US Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

"Battle of the Cities" is a well researched examination of warfare on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. This book focuses on urban warfare and follows the progress of the war through the cities of Russia, Eastern Europe and Middle Europe that were most heavily affected. This book is primarily a survey work focused on current interpretations of the subject and it does not delve into new territory or offer any new research based findings. However, the book does provide a solid, well researched introduction to the war on the Eastern Front that should prove valuable to both serious students and casual readers.

NetGalley, Mohan Vemulapalli

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

‘Battle of the Cities’ examines the fighting between Axis and Soviet forces from the unleashing by Hitler of Operation Barbarossa , the invasion of the Soviet Union, through the rapid and brutal advance of Axis forces to the eventual turning of the tide, and concluding with the successful assault on Berlin that led to Hitler’s suicide and - together with the Western Allies advances into Axis territory - to the eventual Allied victory. So far, so not very unusual; the author, however, has chosen to explore this much-written about aspect of the Second World War by reference to the devastating battles that took place in the cities of Poland; present day Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia and Slovakia; the Baltic States and Austria.

The battles that saw many of the cities razed to the ground are covered in exhaustive detail, including the way in which the tide of war, with its tactical advances and retreats saw some of the cities enduring no fewer than four battles as they fell initially to German forces before being temporarily retaken by Soviet forces that were too weak to hold against the relentless counter attacks, which were such a hallmark of Wehrmacht doctrine. The recapture by German forces before their expulsion in the final decisive Soviet advances necessarily saw still further death and destruction. This is not a book for the faint hearted as the narrative requires close attention to gain the most from the detailed descriptions of the ebb and flow of battle.

Readers in 2023 and later will note, with considerable sadness, that much of the territory contested is currently in the news as Ukrainian forces strive to counter the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. Other striking historical parallels relate to Hitler’s many disastrous tactical decisions, especially to prohibit withdrawal when it was necessary to preserve fighting units for future defence of German, that undoubtedly contributed to the difficulties eventually faced by German forces trying to resist the overwhelming Soviet advances that recovered territory lost in the German advance and then took the fighting to the very capital of the Third Reich. Heads of State who take their rile as Commander in Chief too literally may want to learn from this precedent.

NetGalley, Kevin Manley

An interesting look at the war between the Germans and Soviets during WW2. The first-hand accounts and descriptions of the battles added to the enjoyable read. The hardships faced by the armies on both sides and the ineptness of the generals during the battles was heartbreaking. A good historical read.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About Anthony Tucker-Jones

Anthony Tucker-Jones, a former intelligence officer, is an author and commentator who specialises in military history, with more than 50 books to his name. His work has also been published in an array of magazines and online. He regularly appears on television and radio programmes commenting on current and historical military matters. His books include Armoured Warfare in the North African CampaignThe Battle for the MediterraneanThe Desert Air WarThe Devil’s BridgeHitler’s Winter and Churchill Master and Commander.

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