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Kursk: The Greatest Battle

Kursk: The Greatest Battle

Lloyd Clark


An excellent example of military history, this book deals with one of the most formative, but least known, battles of the Second World War, that raged for weeks around Kursk in Ukraine. Churchill said that, if Stalingrad was the end of the beginning, then Kursk marked the beginning of the end, and it's easy to see why.

Clark wisely spend the first half of the book on prequel: the build-up to the battle, the progress of the war in Russia, and the rationale for the battle choices on both sides. He peppers the story with quotes, both from survivors' accounts and from his own interviews -- one of which results in two old soldiers from opposite sides coming together for coffee and reminiscences after a slightly tense start. He manages to cover the broad structure of the battle while being exceptionally vivid on the detail experienced by individual soldiers.

I have to say that books like this are the best argument I've ever seen for interactive e-books. The order of battle, the changing front lines, and the ebb and flow of battle would really benefit from some interactive mapping that could show the impact of topography alongside the text. Clark manages not to get too lost in the names of units and their movements, but it's sometimes hard to keep them straight.

4/5. Finished 29 June 2014.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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