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A brilliantly researched and realized history, an essential addition to the literature of World War II.
The 1941 Battle of Moscow—unquestionably one of the most decisive battles of the Second World War—marked the first strategic defeat of the German armed forces in their seemingly unstoppable march across Europe. The Soviets lost many more people in that one battle than the British and Americans lost in the whole of the war. Now, with authority and narrative power, Rodric Braithwaite tells the story in large part through the individual experiences of ordinary Russian men and women.
Setting his narrative firmly against the background of Moscow and its people, Braithwaite begins in early 1941, when the Soviet Union was still untouched by the war raging to the west. We see how—despite abundant secret intelligence—the breaching of the border by the Wehrmacht in June took the country by surprise, and how, when the Germans pushed to Moscow in November, the Red Army and the capital’s inhabitants undertook to defend their city. Finally, in the winter of 1941–1942, they turned the Germans back on the very outskirts.
Braithwaite’s dramatic, richly illustrated narrative of the military action offers telling portraits of Stalin and his generals. By interweaving the personal remembrances of soldiers, politicians, writers, artists, workers, and schoolchildren, he gives us an unprecedented understanding of how the war affected the daily life of Moscow, and of the extraordinary bravery, endurance, and sacrifice—both voluntary and involuntary—that was required of its citizens.
"A symphonic evocation of a great city at war." —The New Yorker
“A vivid picture of the stark and bloody struggle for national struggle with which Russia’s war began. . . As military epics go, Hitler’s lightning assault on Moscow in June 1941 and the desperate but successful defense of the Russian capital that winter can hardly be matched. It has an able chronicler in Sir Rodric Braithwaite.” —The Economist
“A heartbreaking and thrilling story...the reader staggers from laughter to tears, while never forgetting that blood is flowing.” —Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daily Mail
“A wide-ranging and excellent account...Braithwaite never shirks the terrible truths.” —Antony Beevor, Sunday Times
“A remarkable epic, vividly portrayed.”
—Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph
“He has succeeded triumphantly in restoring the Battle for Moscow to its proper place in history.” —Richard Overy, Daily Telegraph
“One of the most overlooked moments in history . . . the strength of Moscow 1941 lies in its eye for detail, the snapshot of everyday life that set the scene.” —The Observer
“A masterful account” —The Times
“Dramatic and frightening reading”
—The Daily Express
“Braithwaite, helped by the mouths of the participants, has told their story well.” —Scotland on Sunday
"Moscow 1941 is an outstanding book. It is extremely readable and incorporates much new material into its account of how the Second World War was experienced in Moscow while shedding light on the war in the Soviet Union as a whole . . . Braithwaite certainly understands Russian history and Soviet politics, but he is also familiar with Russian culture . . . His account could be read with profit by anyone tempted to generalize about the effects of military attack and the civilian response to invasion." —Catherine Andreyev of Oxford University, The Times Higher Education Supplement
“If asked to recommend a single book on Soviet history, I think I might propose Moscow 1941. The 12 months it covers saw the pivotal event of the Soviet era, the point at which the regime survived the full blast of one of history's mightiest war machines and bought another half century of existence. Understand what happened here, and you understand Soviet history.” —Lars T. Lih, Moscow Times