Enemy at The Gates: The Battle For Stalingrad by William Craig

Enemy At The Gates

Enemy at The Gates: The Battle For Stalingrad by William Craig

 

This is quite possibly the most gripping, moving history I have ever read. 

 

Enemy At The Gates is an extremely thorough account of the Battle of Stalingrad. Craig spent years researching this book and interviewing survivors and key players and the result is a history that covers all aspects of the battle, from the big picture (exactly what went on in meetings that Hitler or Stalin had with their generals, who made what decisions from the very top all the way down the chain of command) to individual skirmishes.  Some of the personal stories are remarkably harrowing and they’re woven directly into the unfolding narrative in an entirely organic way.  

The Battle of Stalingrad was a key moment in our history, representing one of the key turning points of World War II.  Hitler’s previously unstoppable Sixth Army was not just halted at Stalingrad, it was entirely destroyed.  Stalingrad is also the bloodiest battle in recorded history with over two million casualties on both sides.  The city of Stalingrad was almost entirely destroyed in the first few days of the battle and it seemed impossible that the surviving Russian forces could hold off the Germans long enough for reinforcements to arrive but, digging into the rubble, and at an appalling human cost, the Russians did hold. 

Enemy at the Gates tells this story in painful details, relating the individual stories of survivors on both sides as well as laying out the larger, tactical and strategic developments in a clear, concise way.   

As Russian reinforcements cut off the German Sixth Army, Hitler’s pride prevented him from giving the orders for a break out that would have saved the army.   While Craig is not sympathetic to the German cause, his account never loses site of the human cost of these events on both sides.  The result is an even-handed history which details in great clarity the horrors of war.  

Though this is obviously not a book for everyone, I really can’t recommend this book highly enough to anyone with a love for history.  This is, without a doubt, the best and most moving work of history I’ve ever read.

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