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Red Star at War (Hardback)

Victory at all Costs

Military Photographic Books WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Russia & the Eastern Front WWII > Photographic Books

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.

'Red Star at War' is a beautiful and detailed book about the madness of the Second World War in all its facets, in terms of wasting human lives and goods.

Read the full Dutch review here

Traces of War

Featured in WWII History

WWII History

A fresh work again in the intricate world of war books.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

It’s not a history of the war from the Soviet perspective, more a fascinating look at the lives of the ordinary people who were involved in it.

The Armourer, April 2021

The author provides the face and humanity of the Soviet people at war. The Red Army was a critical component of Allied victory in Europe. There have been many attempts by historians to present a convincing review of human cost, but this book achieves the objective – Very Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


Article: 'Arran author brings humanity to account of Soviet Russia'

Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, 16th August 2020

A unique and invaluable contribution to the growing library of World War II histories, biographies, memoirs and studies, "Red Star at War: Victory at all Costs" is an extraordinary and seminal read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtfully insightful and thorough-provoking. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Red Star at War: Victory at all Costs" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a four page Bibliography and a three page Index.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

Overall, I found this book superb and beautifully written. The author has done a lot of
research into the individual’s backgrounds. It is a good book and has a non-standard approach
to the history of the Red Army. The non-standard approach being the personal human
individual life stories rather than a “divisional” or “campaign” etc history. It is highly
recommended and well worth reading.

Dr Stuart C Blank

This book contains excellent stories about people of the time, and it’s well written and very balanced by the author Colin Turbett. It’s an excellent book and thoroughly enjoyable which is my opinion, and I would recommend it with the great sources in the back of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.

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UK Historian

The book therefore brings us to know many war stories and makes use of the collaboration of a translator named Valentina Kudinova who also contributes two stories connected to her family.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

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

Using numerous experiences of Soviet Russian protagonists, the author skilfully describes the immense contributions at all levels of Soviet society towards victory. A criticism is that it shines a good light on the communist system and there is not enough examination of the Soviet intentions before the 1941 invasion by Germany, and that produces a rather binary approach: Russians good, Germans bad. That said, if the purpose of a good history book is the provoke and seek depth, then this succeeds.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Colin Turbett

Colin Turbett was a career social worker in the West of Scotland for many years, and continues to write and consult in that area. His long-held interest in socialist politics and social history combined when he started to write about the history of the USSR from the aspect of the lives of ordinary citizens. This started with Motorcycles and Motorcycling in the USSR since 1939 in 2019, then, with Pen & Sword, Red Star at War - Victory at All Costs (2020), The Anglo-Soviet Alliance – Comrades and Allies During WW2 (2021), and Soviets in Space – The People of the USSR and the Race to the Moon (2021).

Perfect Partner

A People’s History of the Cold War Stories From East and West (Hardback)

Between the closing battles of the Second World War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War cast a shadow over the lives of people throughout the world. Whilst open conflict was avoided between the ideologically competing superpowers and their principal allies, millions died in battlegrounds in parts of the world that were usually far from Moscow, Washington and London. The threat of nuclear annihilation was omnipresent, but at the same time mutually assured destruction tempered conflict and focused minds. Subtle (and not so subtle) attempts to influence popular opinion either…

By Colin Turbett

Click here to buy both titles for £44.99
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