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The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman (Kindle)

General Greenhill

Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 1.5 MB (.prc)
Pages: 464
ISBN: 9781781594056
Published: 25th June 2012

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Vasily Grossman (1905-64) served for over 1,000 days with the Red Army as a war correspondent on the Eastern Front. He was present during the street-fighting of Stalingrad, and his 1944 report 'The Hell of Treblinka' was the first eyewitness account of a Nazi death camp. Though he finished the war as a decorated lieutenant colonel in Berlin, his epic novel of the battle of Stalingrad, Life and Fate, was suppressed by the Soviet authorities and never published in his lifetime. Declared a 'non person', Grossman died in obscurity. Only in 1980, with its posthumous publication in Switzerland, did his masterpiece gain an international reputation. The Garrards' meticulously researched biography is the first account of his life to make use of unpublished archival sources that only became available after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Born a Russian Jew and an ardent patriot of the Motherland, as a combat correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army's newspaper, Grossman served at the front from the retreat to the gates of Moscow to the blood-soaked capture of Berlin. It was not until he discovered the massacre of 30,000 Jews – including his own mother – in his hometown of Berdichev, Ukraine, that he confronted his Jewishness and the shock of the Holocaust. Determined to tell the story of Soviet complicity with the Germans in the extermination of Russian Jewry, Grossman was labeled an enemy of the state by both Stalin and Khrushchev. In his own words, he was 'buried alive.'

This vivid portrait of Grossman's life in a totalitarian, anti-Semitic state, using evidence Grossman knew but could not publish, gives chilling support to the writer's conclusion in Life and Fate that the Nazi and Soviet states were mirror images of each other.

Although it reflects the era of its original writing - with bright-eyed claims about fresh archives, an ironic statement today given the wave of re-secretizing in Putin's Russia - the Garrard's biography remains a definitive treatment of one of the Soviet Union's most significant writers.

The Russian Review

A comprehensive treatment of Grossman's life and work. It remains an indispensable source and reference point for all those interested in Grossman.

Slavonic & East European Review

John & Carol Garrard’s fascinating, deeply researched book on the “Life and Fate of Vassily Grossman” gives the reader a very clear insight into the horrors of the War on the Eastern Front.
They reveal the truth about the terrible loss of life, not only by mass genocide of the Jews by the Nazis, but also the callous sacrifice of millions of patriotic Russian soldiers. This is, in my view, the major achievement of this remarkable book. For anyone interested either in WWII or Soviet Communism, this book is a must.

R.J. (Dick) Lloyd

Husband-and-wife Russian experts John and Carol Garrard highlight complex Jewish aspects of their subject's own life in The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman, writer of the seminal 20th century epic, Life and Fate, recently receiving renewed popularity after the BBC's dramatisation of Robert Chandler's fine translation.

Jewish Chronicle
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