• Author: Mansur Abdullin
• Publisher: Stackpole Books
• Format: Softcover
• Price: $16.95 USD
• ISBN: 0-8117-3509-5
• Specifics: 195 pages, with a 16 page B/W photo section, 3 pages of B/W maps, Prologue, Epilogue, and Indexes
As a somewhat recent student of the fighting on the Eastern Front of WW II, I have recently been reading several different accounts from different sources, and I have been especially interested in reading about these conflicts from the Russian perspective. Photographs and first-hand accounts from the German perspective seem to be much easier to locate, which seems odd as many of the Third Reichs’ soldiers sent to the Eastern Front never returned home.
In support of this research and interest, I have had the opportunity to read a fantastic new (to me) book about the struggles between the German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front, entitled, "Red Road from Stalingrad, Recollections of a Soviet Infantryman." The author was a Siberian miner who served as a mortarman in the Soviet Infantry in 1942 and 1943. The author is a fascinating individual, identifying himself as a Communist, a Muslim, a Tartar, and a Siberian.
So, what about the book? First of all, many WW II history books are extremely well written from what I would call, “The literary perspective.” Many students of the Greatest War are highly educated, authors that are Professors, or professional historians on some level. This isn’t one of those books. Whether or not this is a good or a bad thing is up to the reader, but I think it is a good thing.
So now we know what it isn’t, so then, what is it? Well, in a word, it is tremendous. It is written in such a way that the reader feels like he or she is literally sitting in the room with the author, listening to his recollections of these harrowing events. Mr. Abdullin has a very vivid memory for the events, his comrades, the places, the battles, terrain, and many other details of his experiences in the Soviet army during the Great Patriotic War. He describes in a very engaging and specific way the individual struggles of fighting as a Soviet mortarmen in the Russian army, and specifically in the battles of Stalingrad, Kursk, Prokhorovka, Dnieppe, and the Ukraine, among others. The reader has the chance to experience, in very intimately described terms, the intense pride that the Soviet Soldiers fought with, in spite of both horrific conditions, as well as the common knowledge that most of them would never return home.
The author also paints a vivid picture of life in Russia and Eastern Europe, both before, during, and after the war. These experiences illustrate his early life as a young man, (obviously, his experiences during the war), and even some reunions, fulfilled and unfulfilled, after the war was over. As I mentioned earlier, he had a somewhat unique viewpoint, as an ethnic and religious minority, but also as a proud member of the Communist party.
He spoke several different languages, and seems to have had a general love for his fellow citizens, and especially the other soldiers he fought with. He really writes with pride about what life was like as a Russian Communist, a patriot, soldier, and sometimes, just as a man. He details honestly many of the political realities of war, and he also describes with great clarity and sometimes alarmingly vivid images of the carnage and inhumanity of war. No punches are pulled in the book, as he deals directly with these horrors, the Political Ideology that the Soviets were faced with, and the equally horrific conditions of fighting as a Russian Soldier. For example, as if losing your best friends on an almost continual basis wasn’t enough, his wartime experiences were fraught with hunger, political grandstanding, dishonesty, and terrible personal hygiene issues. He was wounded several times and these wounds eventually prevented his participation in the drive to Berlin later in the war.
Overall, I found this book to be a completely engaging read, fascinating in both it's scope and detail. I also thoroughly enjoyed the personality of the author and the forthright nature of his writing style. I came away from this read with a feeling that the author was very honest about his experiences, and very proud of his service in World War II.
As a scale modeler, I would have liked to have had a little more inside information on the technical details of the Eastern Front, I.E., the weapons, vehicles, tactics, formations, etc., but this text has been written for a different purpose, the recording of a single soldiers' experiences.
This book is highly recommended for students of The Great Patriotic War, especially those looking for the Soviet perspective. At only $16.95, it is also a great value.
I would like to thank Stackpole Books for the review copy of this book.
Highs: A revealing, frank account from a Russian soldier who pulls no punches. This book reads like you are listening to his accounts first hand. Very engaging.Lows: As a scale modeler, I would have liked to have had a little more inside information on the technical details of the Eastern Front, I.E., the weapons, vehicles, tactics, formations, etc., but this text has been written for a different purpose.Verdict: An excellent book that really allows the reader to experience what combat on the Eastern Front was like.
About Scott Gentry (didiumus) FROM: UTAH, UNITED STATES
Lover of Cocker Spaniels, shooting, photography, and modeling. I am a builder of armor, aircraft, science fiction, and some naval subjects. I prefer armor, especially 1/48 scale, and getting to that point in life where I have a little more time for hobbies.