Reviews of Books

The clash of the armoured megalosaurs

Saturday 30 December 2006 Spectator Book Club, Victor Sebestyen
Europe at War 1939-1945

Davies remains a master at capturing a snapshot, a telling point that sheds light on a great truth, and then exploring it from wide angles. From the famous Marshal Zhukov quote, ‘In the Red Army it takes a very brave man to be a coward’, he writes superbly of the ordinary Soviet soldier’s fear of the NKVD’s political officers behind Russian lines, which was greater, in many cases, than the fear of the Germans. Of the 11 million Soviet soldiers killed, it is estimated that perhaps ten per cent were murdered by Stalin’s henchmen to stop the others deserting. As an aid to perspective, that figure alone is more than twice the number of British and American soldiers killed in the entire war added together, and it explains much of the horror and barbarism of the Eastern Front.

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