Review: Kharkov 1942
- Published: 23 February 2011 23 February 2011
- Last Updated: 12 July 2013 12 July 2013
This book is a very detailed report of the major Soviet offensive at Kharkov in 1942, and as the title says it is seen mostly through Soviet eyes.
The author has throughout the book translated official, now declassified, Soviet General Staff reports and alongside he supports the reports with details of German preparations for Fall Blau which almost coincided with the Soviet offensive...
It is a well balanced book, the Soviet sources are added upon with German sources for Fall Blau and the counter-offensive at Kharkov, and also the author gives his own analysis of the Soviet General staff reports. The author explains political and military background for the decisions made by the Soviet general staff, which are omitted in the official Soviet reports for political reasons.
The battle coverage in the book stops in May but the author provides an additional map from October that shows the German progress (after the battle of Kharkov) when Fall Blau was being fought.
After the story of the battle is told, the author provides his conclusions and analysis. He sums up the results both militarily and politically. This loss for Stalin, Timoshenko and Zhukov was a real eye-opener that forced them to look for greater assistance from their Allies and to be more cautious on the battlefield. Its this thinking that made the Soviet Army continue to fall back during Fall Blau, drawing the Germans deeper into the country, farther away and stretching their supply lines..
The book closes with an extensive section of notes, an appendix, bibliography and an index.
The book is a bit of a brick, with more than 400 pages and almost 40 day-to-day maps.
I would have loved more detailed maps, and even more maps showing the German counter-offensive.
The book covers just about everything you'd want in a military analysis: terrain, force structure, order of battle, tactical and strategic decisions and their reasons.
It is not an easy read as most of the translated reports are very dry, and even though the author omitted a lot of political phrases and propaganda-language, there is still enough of it present.
If you are looking for a book telling the story from a soldiers view, then this is not for you.
The book is telling the story from the level of divisions.
It is definitely not for the novice reader, but rather for a serious student of military history with a keen interest in the eastern-front.
(Reviewed by Tor-Helge)
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.