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Myths and Legends of the Eastern Front (ePub)

Reassessing the Great Patriotic War

Military WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Russia & the Eastern Front WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Stalingrad

By Boris Sokolov, Translated by Richard W Harrison
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 7.3 MB (.epub)
Pages: 400
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781526742278
Published: 7th October 2019


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The memory of the Second World War on the Eastern Front – still referred to in modern Russia as the Great Patriotic War – is an essential element of Russian identity and history, as alive today as it was in Stalin’s time. It is represented as a defining episode, a positive historical myth that sustains the Russian national idea and unites the majority of Russian citizens.

As a result, as Boris Sokolov shows in this powerful and thought-provoking study, the heroic and tragic side of the war is highlighted while the dark side – the incompetent, negligent and even criminal way the war was run – is overlooked. Although almost eighty years have passed since the defeat of Nazi Germany, he demonstrates that many of the fabrications put forward during the war and immediately afterwards persist into the present day.

In a sequence of incisive chapters he uncovers the truth about famous wartime episodes that have been consistently misrepresented. His bold reinterpretation should go some way towards dispelling the enduring myths about the Great Patriotic War. It is necessary reading for anyone who is keen to understand how it continues to be misrepresented in Russia today.

'Myths and Legends of the Eastern Front' is a Russian re-assessment of the Nazi-Soviet conflict. It’s a very detailed study, packed with references - many of them Russian language books and periodicals. First published in English in 2019 this is a very useful new perspective for those who already have some understanding of the conflict in the east, particularly those who are interested in the Soviet decision making at a strategic level. It is by no means uncritical of Stalin and the Red Army commanders.

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WW2 Today

The Great Patriotic War is a collection of myths and legends that have not been challenged during the last 75 years. This English translation of the original Russian work is thought provoking, challenging the ‘official’ version of what happened – Most Highly Recommended.

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The author makes all the facts comprehensive but in a way that can be understood and a joy to read.
If you only get one book on the realities of the Eastern front and one that tells the whole story then this should be it.

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Amazon Customer, Richard Domoney-Saunders

Sokolov is meticulous in his research as is evidenced by the carefully appended references which run to forty-six pages. The arguments are made confidently and the book, unlike some other Russian translations, is an easy one to read. The author succeeds in his aims to a large extent – particularly on the causes of the Second World War, the contribution of the Allies from a Soviet perspective and the impact of Hitler and Stalin’s policies on a civilian population which endured suffering on a scale which is impossible to rationalise. This book is an important one – it successfully challenges commonly held views about The Great Patriotic War and brings some academic rigour to a topic which is quite often presented in an over simplistic way.

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Phil Curme

Featured 'ON THE BOOK SHELF' by Neil Smith

Wargames Illustrated, October 2019

Don’t be put off by the title that suggests with ‘myths and legends’ a rehash of simplistic stories. It is nothing like that and is a stunning serious analysis of the Russian war effort and how the facts of that effort were adjusted by the Soviet regime. At its core is the detailed investigation of Russian manpower and materiel losses; the latter was recoverable largely through lend lease and the former was the price to be paid given the vastly inferior structure, training and leadership of the Soviet Army when compared to the Wehrmacht. The ability of the German Army to impose irreplaceable losses on the Soviets is stunning; ratios of 20:1 and more were not uncommon during parts of the war and even accounting for the shift in events after June 1944 the overall ratio for the whole war in the East was 10:1. Of course this was only sustainable given the huge Russian population that continued to feed these losses and consequently for political and operational reasons it was little more than a disposable militia. Consequently in the interests of propaganda the Soviets severely undercounted their losses and inflated the German losses. This book unstitches the myth of miscounted loss and delivers clarity and the results are stunning; only Stalin’s totalitarian regime could have sustained it. It is truly shocking. The author also reviews the many heroic propaganda storied promulgated by the Soviets and finds varying amounts of truth. He does not belittle the contribution of the Russian people but correctly positions it in its true historical context. This is a serious book for anybody wanting a deeper insight into the Great Patriotic War. Written by a Russian and excellently translated in a very readable style it is well worth the investment of time and care to read it. Keep a notebook handy as the wealth of data particularly on unit strengths and losses is staggering and the reader cannot be a passive onlooker; you will need to really engage to get the best out of this excellent and highly recommended book.
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Boris Sokolov

Boris Sokolov is a military historian, geographer and anthropologist and an expert in Russian literature. He has written studies of Gogol, Sergei Yesenin and Mikhail Bulgakov. For the last twenty years he has concentrated on Soviet twentieth-century history, writing about Lavrentiy Beria, Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov and Leonid Brezhnev. He has also played a leading role in the struggle to reveal the reality behind the myths about the Soviet Union in the Second World War.

About Richard W Harrison

Richard Harrison is a writer, editor and translator specializing in Russian military history. He has also taught Russian history and military history at the college and university level. Among his publications are several translations of the studies compiled by the Soviet Army General Staff on Red Army operations during the Second World War.

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