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Red Star at War (Hardback)

Victory at all Costs

WWII Russia & the Eastern Front Photographic Books WWII Photographic Books Military

By Colin Turbett
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: 9781526763280
Published: 6th July 2020

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Russia’s losses during the Second World War were beyond imagination and touched the lives of an entire population caught between a brutal and murderous invader and a ruthless leadership at home. Soviet victory over the Nazis, which effectively won the war, was the end result of effort and sacrifice by the ordinary millions who were totally committed to saving their ‘motherland’.

The humanity of the ordinary Soviet citizen in uniform is often forgotten because of later Cold War narratives propagated East and West for differing ideological reasons. This book seeks to redress these imbalances. In its pages the tragedy of war and loss are captured in the faces of those who lived through some of the most momentous years in human history. Many of the pictures show the women who fought alongside men in the front line – a unique feature among the belligerent nations.

Red Star at War is centered on photographs taken before, during and after the Second World War, which illustrate the human face of the immense Soviet war effort. These show soldiers, sailors, airmen (men and women) not in battle, but in photographs taken for their families and friends, and the messages that often went with these images. A number were taken in the knowledge that they might be the last image of a loved one as death was almost a certainty for many. The photographs and captions are backed up by text that provides both context and baseline - drawn from writings of the period as well as more recent historical accounts and research.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating read that powerfully reminds the reader in the West of the humanity and immense sacrifices made by the Soviet people without which the war would have ended in failure.

NetGalley, Kimba Tichenor

Living in the US I've read a lot of books that detail battles of WW2, both in Europe and in the Pacific Theaters. This book tells the stories of (mostly) forgotten Russians that fought, and often died, in the brutal fighting against Nazi Germany after they were invaded in 1941. Often poignant and heartbreaking, the excerpts of letters and photos show ordinary people that were separated from their families for years (leave was almost never possible, even if near the home of the soldier). Add to that the stress of the danger that civilians faced with the invasion and brutality of the Nazis of the most industrial and agriculturally productive parts of the Soviet Union. Unlike in the West, both men and women served in combat roles, although the women faced discrimination and sexual assault from the men they served with. For me the most heartbreaking stories involve children, sometimes toddlers, that were adopted by military units. These children were one of the real tragedies of the war, orphaned or separated from family with little hope of being reunited. The other tragedy highlighted in these stories is the frequent lack of recognition for the sacrifice and bravery of most ordinary soldiers. After the war was over in 1945 it took decades for some to gain the acknowledgment of their extraordinary service by the generations coming afterwards. In the West, we call the men and women that lived and served during WW2 The Greatest Generation, in the Soviet Union they could be considered The Forgotten Generation. This book works to prevent them being forgotten.

NetGalley, Carrie Habib

About Colin Turbett

A keen motorcyclist and social historian, Colin Turbett is the author of Motorcycles and Motorcycling in the USSR 1939-1990 (Veloce) and Playing with the Boys – Olga Kevelos Motorcycle Sportswoman. During his career as a social worker and frontline manager he had a number of academic papers published alongside two books: Rural Social Work Practice in Scotland (Venture Press 2010) and Doing Radical Social Work (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). He has long held an interest in the history of the Soviet Union and its people. This is his first book for Pen and Sword.

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