- Gebundene Ausgabe: 400 Seiten
- Verlag: Random House (5. Juni 2012)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 9781400066926
- ISBN-13: 978-1400066926
- ASIN: 1400066921
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,2 x 3 x 24,2 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 463.934 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Stalin's General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 5. Juni 2012
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Advance praise for Stalin’s General
“At long last we have a full biography of Marshal Zhukov. Geoffrey Roberts has written a well-informed, judiciously balanced, and lively account, covering not only Zhukov’s role in 1941–1945 as a frontline commander and Stalin’s closest military advisor but also his formative experiences in the prewar Red Army, his complex family relationships, his place in Cold War military planning, and his lapses into political disfavor under both Stalin and Khrushchev. There is a wealth of new material here, including firsthand insights from Zhukov’s relatives. A three-dimensional picture emerges of the peasant boy who became the greatest general of World War II. This is a splendid book, comprehensively detailed, readily understood, and it is essential reading for anyone interested in the Russian-German conflict or the Soviet experience.”—Evan Mawdsley, author of December 1941 and Thunder in the East
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Geoffrey Roberts is the author of Stalin’s Wars and Victory at Stalingrad. He is professor and head of the School of History at University College Cork, Ireland. Roberts is a frequent contributor to British, Irish, and American newspapers and to popular-history journals and has been a consultant for TV and radio documentaries.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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The book itself is a quick read. I admire that Roberts did not get tied down in the tactics and troop movements of each campaign. There are other books for that. However, the reader is left with a good understanding of what happened.
For me the most interesting part was the post-war period where Zhukov was disgraced, and rehabilitated, twice! The reader is given an informative look into the power struggles of the USSR and the attempts to rewrite the history of the Great Patriotic War. Reading this, and thinking about previous books I have read, I was left wondering how a system based on paranoia, ego and lies didn't collapse sooner.
Zhukov took umbrage with the memoirs of German generals who couldn't admit that the primary reason they lost the war was the superior generalship of the Soviets. He assigned little weight to their arguments of the meddling of Hitler, Russian weather, and the weight of numbers. This subject is debatable but I believe Zhukov got wrapped up, once again, in his own press and that of the Red Army. All sides had very able commanders but when a country can absorb the sheer number of losses that the Red Army took in the Second World War - and keep coming! - one would be foolish to think numbers had nothing to do with it. On top of that economic factors played a huge role. The evidence is the superiority the Russians had in artillery, tanks, etc.
All in all, a very good book that left me wanting more. Highly recommended.
In the West Zhukov is not as well known as Montgomery, Eisenhower, Patton, De Gaulle or other leading Allied generals, which "Stalin's General" seeks to rectify. Zhukov's turnarounds in the defense of Leningrad (today's St. Petersburg), Moscow, Stalingrad, and the decisive battle at Kursk should solidify him as one of the best generals of all time. Any one of those campaigns could have made or broken a commander, yet Zhukov persevered at all of them, albeit it at a significant loss of life. And perhaps that's why Zhukov doesn't merit the recognition he deserves; he was all too willing to sacrifice men, and often in staggering numbers, to achieve his objectives. But "Stalin's General" doesn't bog down in the minutia of particular campaigns; this isn't geared for the military historian so much as the general public. Zhukov's push to Berlin is given a good bit of coverage here, as does the Russian capture of Berlin and driving the final nail in Hitler's coffin. What I admired most is that "Stalin's Generals" captures the sacrifices the Russians made towards defeating Germany at a time the rest of the Allies were content to fight slowly across North Africa and to mass troops in England waiting for D-Day. Too often Western histoirans ignore or minimize Russia's bearing the burden of fighting against Hitler's onslaught virtually alone from 1941 to 1944. "Stalin's Generals" shows what Zhukov and the Russians were up against in pretty stark detail.
Most authors would be content to revel in the glory that was Zhukov's military successes, but Roberts plumbs his role in the occupation of Germany and how he contended with Stalin during the post-war era. Stalin was clearly jealous of Zhukov's stature and knew the potential threat Zhokov represented and took steps to minimize Zhukov and keep him perpetually off-balance. Perhaps the best part of the book is the section dealing with the post-Stalin era and how Zhukov became both a player and a pawn in the power struggle that broke out. Zhukov could easily have made a grab for power and gone the military dictatorship route and it's unclear if he lacked the desire to do so or was thwarted. His role in the ensuing power struggle is muddled and it's likely that in ensuing years as more sealed records are made public we'll get a better sense of the ensuing struggles that went on. At any rate by the time Khrushchev solidified his power Zhukov was again on the outs. While he did publish his own memoirs they were heavily censored and even later "un-revised" versions raise doubts about their veracity.
In the end "Stalin's Generals" is a fascinating read about a figure largely unknown to most Westerners, which is a shame as Zhukov was largely responsible for hastening the end of Hitler's Germany. To a certain extent he is also a Russian Cincinnatus, a citizen soldier who could easily have grasped power but instead to remain humble and true to his roots. Zhukov remains something of an enigma as like many Russians enduring a tenuous existence during the Stalinist era had to be careful of what they said and wrote. It's hard to know what he was thinking, what motivated him, what inspired him, and what he really thought. Roberts had a tough task here with the obviously biased source materials, but what emerges is the portrait of a man who was a genuinely powerful leader who deserves more respect than he currently is receiving.
I have found a couple of errors which I would consider a matter of principal to be corrected: "Soviet state offered people like Zukov unprecedented and previously unimaginable opportunities for social mobility." p. 13 (Top Generals of the Russian Imperial Army M. Alexeev - Chief of the General Staff, like G. Zhukov himself 25 years later, L. Kornilov and A. Denikin were all from the lowest rungs of the society).
"There is also a story that after the German attack Stalin lost his head and descended into a depression. According to Zhukov `Stalin himself was strong-willed and no coward... After June 22, 1941, and throughout the war, Stalin firmly governed the country'." p. 107 (This is a fact, not a story. Stalin indeed "lost his head" and retired to his dacha on June 28 after he learned the German tanks were observed to the east of Minsk).
I did not find any chronological or geographical mistakes with the exception of few inconsequential typos. The maps to the best of my knowledge are correct and helpful. Mr. Roberts is a first-rate historian who knows his subject well and I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in widening his knowledge of military history.
The author deserves respect for truthfully mentioning the battles where Zhukov failed either completely: three Rzhev - Viazma offensive operations, or operationally - Polar Star, or tactically - Berlin, though it is not a great achievement anymore to expose those costly episodes in the age of immensely increased knowledge. After all it is not 1969 any longer when Zhukov was able either to distort or to hide those untidy events without fearing discomfort of exposure.
But all this well deserved praise does not mitigate the fact that one of the most prominent sides of Zhukov's character escaped the author's attention almost completely. It happened not because the author is unaware of it but in his sympathy to the hero of his book he dismissed this feature of his character as irrelevant and thus brings to his book a scent of distortion.
The author writes in the book's introduction: "But the more I worked on his biography the more sympathetic I became to Zhukov's point of view. Empathy combined with critique, and the result is what I hope will be seen as a balanced reappraisal that cuts through the hyperbole of the Zhukov cult while appreciating the man and his achievements in full measure" (p. IX)
I am pretty sure Mr. Roberts is familiar with the coded telegram # 4976 (9/28/41), which Zhukov sent to all commanders of land armies and Baltic Fleet shortly after he became Leningrad Front Commander. It has not been a secret since 1991. How could anybody become more sympathetic to the author of this order?
"You must explain to rank and file of all units under your command that families of military personnel who surrendered to the enemy will be shot and they will be shot after returning from the captivity."
Even the Great Humanitarian Comrade Stalin himself failed to reach this "summit of magnanimity" in his cruel orders # 270 (8/1941) and # 227 (7/1942). Yes, he was a hot-headed man, he did not mind to give 10, sometimes 25 years of labor camps for former POWs, or execute some of them to advance a common "noble cause", even five years after the end of the war, but not their families. He found it sufficient just to put them in prison.
In October 1941 Zhukov was transferred from Leningrad to command the Western Front to meet the German drive to Moscow. This is a coded telegram he sent to the CO of 49A Leutenant General I. Zakharkin on October 12:
"I order you to counterattack and to restore the situation, otherwise for unwarranted retreat from the city of Kaluga not only commanding officers of all units but also you personally will be shot."
Zhukov's cruelty and disregard for soldiers were at the full display not only during the critical months of 1941 - 1942, but all way through the war.
Juriy Kovalenko, the officer for special assignments for General N. Vatutin, the CO of the First Ukrainian Front in the fall of 1943, recalled:
"The Front was getting ready to force the river Dnepr south of Kiev. Top Front's Generals and representatives from Stavka gathered to discuss details of the future operation. During meeting Zhukov was asked about 300,000 Ukrainians recently drafted from liberated areas of Ukraine. The question was raised about uniforms and weapons for new recruits. After listening for a while to the pro and con arguments of Generals Zhukov finally said, - Why are we breaking our heads over this issue? Why do we have to provide for these "khokhly" (offensive name for the Ukrainians) all this good stuff in the first place? They are all traitors. The more of them drown in the Dnepr the less we would have to move to Siberia after the war."
I agree with the author who expresses the well founded suspicion and mistrust of memoirs of the Soviet Marshals and Generals. There was no group of people more prone to lying than the Soviet military leaders of WW II. But while accepting this premise we must not forget that Zhukov also belonged to the same group of "truth-seekers" and his memoirs have to be treated accordingly.
I am under the impression the author completely disregarded the numerous recollections of simple soldiers and low rank front line officers (which became available rather recently) who have had the misfortune to be in close proximity to Marshal.
J. Roberts writes: "There are reports that Zhukov, too, (like G. Patton) occasionally hit his subordinates, a practice picked up from his time in the tsarist army, where it was common." p. 315
The statement "there are reports" sounds ambivalent if not outright unsupportive of the well known and widely used by Zhukov practice of physical and verbal abuse of military personnel. Physical violence was broadly spread in the Red Army but its presence was never revealed neither in war literature nor in memoirs and documents. Only relatively recently has this fact became known with the appearance of Internet recollections of front line soldiers and officers.
The chain of physical abuse started at the top and went down all way to the level of battalion commanders. It seldom descended lower because of the fear of possible retaliation. Unlike the tsarist army where victims of physical abuse were only soldiers and NCOs, the range was much wider in the Red Army - from privates all way up to high ranking officers (which was unheard of in the Russian Imperial army in the beginning of XX c.)
"When Zhukov entered the room he went directly to Colonel Shuba and punched him in the mouth. I clenched my teeth so when he punches me I would not bite my tongue."
To compare the Sicilian accidents of General Patton for which he lost the command of the 7th Army and almost ruined his military carrier with Zhukov's treatment of subordinates is absolutely out of place.
Anyway, battle fatigue (posttraumatic stress disorder) was treated as cowardice in the Red Army and usually was punished by death.
Some of the Marshal's most innocent abusive acts looked outright vain and even childish, however extremely humiliating.
The driver of the truck full of artillery shells passed Zhukov's motorcade without giving too much thought to it. Zhukov became mad and after his guards stopped the truck he ordered the shaken driver to show his driver's license. He took the license and after tearing it apart ordered: - "Punch him in the mug and piss on him". (By the way, urinating on their victims was one of the favorite "innocent" jokes of SA men in Germany in March of 1933).
Such names like Nevskaya Dubrovka, the bloodiest place of the WWII, where probably 200,000 Red Army men perished for nothing, Viazma encirclement, where the 33A of General Efremov was destroyed, and all way to the Zeelov Hights and Berlin in April 1945, when the highest daily casualty rate (15,325) since the destruction of the South-Western front in July 1942 was registered, where the two top Red Army commanders were storming the doomed surrounded city to satisfy theirs and their immoral boss' vanity, all these places and a lot more in between are tied in a blood-spattered knot together with the name of Marshal Zhukov.
The front line soldier and Great Russian writer Victor Astafiev (1924-2011) put it this way: "Zhukov and Stalin have burnt Russia and the Russian people in the war's fire and from this severe accusation we have to start any debate about that war. Only then we will be able to arrive at the truth but we won't live long enough to see it. Our strength, intelligence and courage fall too short to say all truth about our people's tragedy, even just a main part of it".
Without this fundamental principle even the best biographies are destined to fall short of expectations.
Winston Churchill summed up the Russians in his famous quote: "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."
In the last decade we have learned a great deal about WW II from government archives and private papers that have recently been made public. Normally this makes for better history, but this biography emphasizes that we don't really understand the Soviet era today much better than at the time of Winston Churchill.
The author states that "The archives show between February 27, 1937, and November 12, 1938, Stalin, Molotov, and Kaganovich had personally sanctioned 38,679 political executions." It is impossible to keep an historical record when you execute your political (or imagined) opponents. Everybody who took notes was scared of a similar fate, and the written record cannot be trusted.
I read a lot of history, and I have been lied to, but this is the first history that I get the feeling everybody is lying. Certainly this isn't the fault of Geoffrey Roberts. He has done a great job of attempting to get at the truth. I just get the feeling that very little truth survived this era.
Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union started June 22, 1941. We know that Stalin had been told by the English and Americans that Hitler was going to attack. They even told him the day he was going to attack. The soviet air force was wiped out on the ground, and half a million prisoners were taken within a few days. If you think this book can shed any light on how this happened you would be wrong.
The real story is how the Soviet peoples eventually beat Hitler. Piecing together a history of this struggle is also difficult. If Zhukov or anybody else had any opinions about about this or any subject, they kept their mouths shut, and what history was written was whatever propaganda was approved by Stalin.
This book is not the definitive history of WW II. There are better histories. The Germans kept better records and were a lot more truthful. Nevertheless the book is fascinating.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the battle of Khalkhin-Gol in 1939. I had never heard of Khalkhin-Gol. It is on the border between the Soviet Union and Mongolia. The Japanese had occupied Soviet territory, and Zhukov was sent to fight the Japanese. He beat the Japanese. This campaign showed Zhukov's strengths. He gathered extensive intelligence on the Japanese while managing to fool them that he was only building defensive positions. He assembled a coordinated attack of air, infantry, cavalry and artillery four hundred miles from the nearest rail lines. He launched a surprise attack on a Sunday morning and trounced the Japanese.
We know from Japanese archives that they dropped the "northern strategy" in favor of conquering Southeast Asia and leading to Perl Harbor. More importantly Zhukov demonstrated that he was a competent leader and was a master of modern warfare.
The book continues from the beginning to the end of WW II, the death of Stalin, the atomic age, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. At times Zhukov is in favor, other times he is out of favor. Much of the later part of the book is concerned with Zhukov's memoirs which appeared in several editions sometimes written by him and rewritten by others during the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras. As he got older he was always involved in politics. I can understand elections even British house of parliament, but Soviet power changes mystify me. I can't fault the author. Soviet politics were done in secret, and very few outsiders knew what was going on in the inner circle of the Soviet Union.
Once Zhukov was dead, the government could build statues of him and strike a commemorative ruble coin. In life he had his supporters and detractors. He had been born a peasant, and soldiers of the day were mostly illiterate. Zhukov could be cruel and rude. He sent cannon fodder into battles with no training and no weapons and had more than 100,000 his own soldiers shot for various offences. It is not surprising that many people hated him.
Zhukov is an important figure in world history, and it is good that he has a modern biography written in light of new material. Zhukov's world was not a comfortable world, and it is very different from our world. Geoffrey Roberts has immersed himself in that world and has done a remarkable job of bringing Zhukov and his world to modern readers.
I had read many books about Marshall Zhukov and one time after war meet with him.
It seems to me this book by Geoffrey Roberts "Stalin's general "The life of Georgi Zhukov" is the best one.
It seems to me all hwo interested of history of war with Hitler and a victory in this war must read it.
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