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  • New Book

    "Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War" by Chris BELLAMY, published by Macmillan.
    Another book by a Western academic (with a background not too disimilar to BEEVOR). I wondered if I should have put this post under the Goebbels / Beevor thread to satisfy those who will doubtless rubbish the book without reading it and who say that only Russians are qualified to write such books.
    I have not yet read it but on the basis of a brief review by Christopher Silvester in the Daily Telegraph today, look forward to doing so. Unfortunately I caqnnot find a link to it yet.
    There may be little new material but it is said that the work is authoratative, with thorough and exacting judgements and robust prose.
    The review mentions that the author estimates the total loss to the population at 48 million, (including the lack of reproduction as well as deaths) with a further 15 million displaced. Apparently relocated industries, women under arms, partisans and NKVD are all given due credit for their contributions to the victory.
    The "Night Witches" of the 46th Guards Night Night Bomber Regiment are mentioned in the review.

  • #2
    Actually, I'm reading this book right now (400 pages into it). When I'm done, within a week, I will have a full review on my blog.
    "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
    "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
    "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Dave T View Post
      "Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War" by Chris BELLAMY, published by Macmillan.
      Another book by a Western academic (with a background not too disimilar to BEEVOR). I wondered if I should have put this post under the Goebbels / Beevor thread to satisfy those who will doubtless rubbish the book without reading it and who say that only Russians are qualified to write such books.
      I have not yet read it but on the basis of a brief review by Christopher Silvester in the Daily Telegraph today, look forward to doing so. Unfortunately I caqnnot find a link to it yet.
      There may be little new material but it is said that the work is authoratative, with thorough and exacting judgements and robust prose.
      The review mentions that the author estimates the total loss to the population at 48 million, (including the lack of reproduction as well as deaths) with a further 15 million displaced. Apparently relocated industries, women under arms, partisans and NKVD are all given due credit for their contributions to the victory.
      The "Night Witches" of the 46th Guards Night Night Bomber Regiment are mentioned in the review.
      Chris Bellamy has broadened his horizons. Back during the period of great unpleasantness, he wrote articles for RUSI, Jane's Defence Review and others on Soviet artillery and rocket forces. Since he received officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served as an officer in the Royal Artillery, he extended his expertise to Red Army and Soviet Army which lends a professional understanding beyond academics. He previously published, "Red God of War: Soviet Artillery and Rocket Forces", 1986. I found his writings credible and useful(my vertical files have a number of his articles[probably all], and I have his book). He has an interest in graphic arts, so his pieces always had maps, diagrams, and photographs.

      rna
      Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 28 Jul 07, 15:37.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
        Chris Bellamy has broadened his horizons. Back during the period of great unpleasantness, he wrote articles for RUSI, Jane's Defence Review and others on Soviet artillery and rocket forces. Since he received officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served as an officer in the Royal Artillery, he extended his expertise to Red Army and Soviet Army which lends a professional understanding beyond academics. He previously published, "Red God of War: Soviet Artillery and Rocket Forces", 1986. I found his writings credible and useful(my vertical files have a number of his articles[probably all], and I have his book). He has an interest in graphic arts, so his pieces always had maps, diagrams, and photographs.

        rna
        His book is useful in many ways but he is still missing a large chunk of sources and history from what he's written. It's a DENSE book but spelling and grammar mistakes are evident and annoying, taking away from a flawless reading experience, and he also makes some simple mistakes, again goes toward his light bibliography. Although he made good use of the books he lists in his bibliography, as mentioned previous, he's missing a lot of new literature that came out which would have made this book that much better.
        "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
        "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
        "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Dave T View Post
          The review mentions that the author estimates the total loss to the population at 48 million, (including the lack of reproduction as well as deaths) with a further 15 million displaced.
          Hi!

          How does he split this 48 million? Can you, please, show all the parts of it.

          Thanks!
          Igor
          Kind regards
          Igor

          * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
          * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
          * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kunikov View Post
            His book is useful in many ways but he is still missing a large chunk of sources and history from what he's written. It's a DENSE book but spelling and grammar mistakes are evident and annoying, taking away from a flawless reading experience, and he also makes some simple mistakes, again goes toward his light bibliography. Although he made good use of the books he lists in his bibliography, as mentioned previous, he's missing a lot of new literature that came out which would have made this book that much better.
            Incisive look at the source material. What you have noted tends to happen when an author goes outside a narrow expertise to a broader scope and theme.

            Some scholars can do that--Michael Howard, John Keegan, and Richard Overy come to mind.

            rna
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
              Incisive look at the source material. What you have noted tends to happen when an author goes outside a narrow expertise to a broader scope and theme.

              Some scholars can do that--Michael Howard, John Keegan, and Richard Overy come to mind.

              rna
              My guess would be that he tried to create a new narrative to rival that of Erickson's, whom he studied under, but he didn't get there. I have many of the sources he uses, they are good, but, as I said, it could have been much better. Oh and he thinks Davies's "Rising '44" is a "magisterial' treatment of the Warsaw Uprising.
              "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
              "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
              "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Egorka View Post
                Hi!

                How does he split this 48 million? Can you, please, show all the parts of it.

                Thanks!
                Igor
                Here is the paragraph you're looking for, it's on page 11:
                "If the population really was 197 million in June 1941, then by the end of 1950, at Imperial Russian or early Soviet levels of increase, with high infant mortality, the population should still have been 201.5 million at the absolute minimum, or, applying the 2.3 per cent increase cumulatively, a maximum of 247 million. In fact it was 181,760,000, rising to only 208,827,000 by 1959, the next reliable census. Demographers calculate the 'global loss' of population, resulting not only from excess deaths during the war, including the direct war deaths, but also the overall impact on population, resulting from couples who never met and babies not born, to have been in the order of 48 million."
                "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
                "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
                "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK, here's my review (you can find it here):
                  Absolute War by Chris Bellamy

                  Chris Bellamy has written an interesting account of the Eastern front, although to a large degree limited to 1941 and 1942, that at least is what makes up the bulk of this almost 700 page book. I wasn't even aware that something like this was coming out and since it looked promising I ordered it from amazon.co.uk, not looking on the fact that I would be spending more money (but it was due to come out months later in the states and I simply couldn't wait). Was I disappointed? In some ways I was but in others I learned plenty. Out of five stars, I would probably give this book three and a half. Bellamy's earlier work regarding the Soviet Union focused specifically on the Rocket and Artillery forces, one can easily see that in this book, he was out of his league. He studied under John Erickson, whose two volume "Road to Stalingrad/Berlin" are THE works to read up to this date, although dated, so I thought his work would be worth the read. First I'd like to point out the numerous errors I found:

                  On page 4 we have the quote "Without British and US dominance of sea...Soviet Union would have been defeated in 1942." I simply cannot see this being a fact, less so since he doesn't really support it with a convincing argument.

                  On page 8 he discusses quickly the Ukrainian famine and gives a number of 7 million death's, but no source is given. Today it is known that the figure of 7 million is an exaggeration.

                  Page 22 retains the idea that returning POW's were shot or sent to the GULag when the war ended. God how I hate this myth!

                  Page 100 Blames the delay of Barbarossa on the invasion of Yugoslavia, and not much else. Today it is known that the rasputitsa was extra long and no earlier invasion than late June was possible.

                  There are countless spelling and grammatical errors here and there which take away from the overall reading experience. They include: Dovator's name misspelled as Dovatpor, Kirponos as Kirponosos, Instead of Jodl we have Kodl on page 331, on page 331 "Kluge handed over control of Army Group Center to Kluge." It was Bock who handed control over.

                  On page 347 first it says the 29th and 39th armies were trapped behind German lines and then the next paragraph has it being the 29th and 33rd armies.

                  A lot of times I saw "lease-lend" and even "lease-land" instead of Lend-Lease, I have no idea why this was.

                  On page 539 the author lists operation "Winter Storm" as being Guderian's operation, in reality it was Manstein's.

                  Page 656 the author mixes up the tank armies of Rybalko and Lelyushenko.

                  And there are numerous annoying comparisons between the Eastern front and WWII in general to what's going on today in Iraq.

                  Well, those are some of the mistakes that I caught, they pretty much took away half a star, the other star was lost by the author's short bibliography. As I said, he's out of his league. Many of the books he uses I have, they are excellent sources, but he's missing too much! Hence he's making some of the above mistakes.

                  The author also tackles Suvorov AKA Rezun's thesis and tries to give both sides of the story, but in my opinion he's missing too much from his analysis and leaves too much room for people to believe that Rezun has a point about some things. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say, in a few months another book by Suvorov is being published in English and I'll be reviewing it...quite thoroughly.

                  The accounts from 1941 and 1942 were excellent, his ideas regarding the intelligence Stalin was receiving and why he didn't believe what the UK and US was giving him are right on, for the most part, as well as the fact that Sorge's activities are given too much attention and what is ignored is all the times that he gave wrong information or at worst, ambiguous intelligence.

                  Other interesting points that I found were the descriptions of the NKVD in Leningrad trying to find a 'propagandist' who was turning out leaflets saying that they should open their doors to the Germans. The Lend Lease agreements and the impact of Lend Lease on the war effort, here I also think the author doesn't have enough information on this area. His numbers are interesting but the context isn't total. Lend Lease helped but it wasn't crucial and I can only hope that coming away from this book reader's will have the same opinion. The maps and tables were quite helpful, most of the time, but I also didn't like the add libbing that the author kept giving me, annoying comparisons. This isn't a work of fiction, stick to the story, please. Lastly, the descriptions of the rapes and destruction wrecked by the Red Army on the German population is taken out of context, also to a degree. Somehow the author thinks that political officers, on the whole, encouraged this activity and gave their silent consent, but no real evidence is provided. Did atrocities occur? Of course, but there is no reason to make believe this was Red Army policy. STAVKA orders came down saying that such activities needed to be curbed and many times Red Army soldiers were shot out of hand for robbing Germans and for raping and murdering innocent civilians, yet there is no mention of these facts.

                  In the end all I ask is for balance, an objective view, and a context that will let the reader walk away with a better understanding of what it was like in the shoes of a Red Army soldier or general. Sadly, this book didn't deliver that, also part of three and a half stars I thought it deserved. For those who expected me to go chapter by chapter in this review, I'm sorry to disappoint, I'd rather point out what I liked and didn't like. This is a very DENSE history of the Eastern front, specifically 1941 and 1942 (border battles, Moscow Counter-Offensive, and Stalingrad). Politics, military actions, NKVD participation, and the allies are all included in what this book has to offer. This book is worth the read, I can honestly say that learning the USSR and the US were still, technically, in a state of war with Germany up until 1955 and 1951, respectively, was a surprise for me! But, as with any book, take it with a grain of salt, if something seems too good to be true, look at the source and consult other works!
                  "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
                  "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
                  "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Kunikov,

                    Thanks for the review. Not sure that I want to spend the money nor th etime to pursue his book. A lot of your points are editing errors. My experience is that small publishers leave that to the authors who can really use some professional support.

                    rna
                    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                      Kunikov,

                      Thanks for the review. Not sure that I want to spend the money nor th etime to pursue his book. A lot of your points are editing errors. My experience is that small publishers leave that to the authors who can really use some professional support.

                      rna
                      He could have benefited from a good proof reader, that's for sure, but if I didn't encounter those mistakes I'd still give it 4 out of 5 stars for all the other points I listed, and especially for the limited bibliography.
                      "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
                      "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
                      "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I also forgot to add that he relies on Beevor for a lot of information and makes the same mistakes as have been made before in terms of Stalingrad.
                        "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
                        "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
                        "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. Voltaire

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dave T View Post
                          ... the author estimates the total loss to the population at 48 million, (including the lack of reproduction as well as deaths)...
                          the ''author'' is too shy.
                          why not put it 448 million right away ??
                          after all, western readers are willing to trust any figures on un-western losses !!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stalin View Post
                            why not put it 448 million right away ??
                            after all, western readers are willing to trust any figures on un-western losses !!
                            Any proof for such a statement?
                            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              On the subject of rapes: there is a peculiar fixation on this in many wars that had at least one ideology driving the other side. The wikipedians are idiots, we all know, but I was still surprised at how much their article on the battle of Budapest and Operation Konrad focused on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Budapest I don't see a similar listing of suspected rapes for Barbarossa (or for that matter, Atlanta or New Orleans in our own history).
                              Sadly the neo-nazi movement is alive and well - on the internet. That's their domain I guess. The way they hook a lot of kids is by bringing up these rape cases, as if the Wermacht never did such a thing (obviously - because they had shiny boots and neat, feldgrau uniforms).

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