On July 5, 1943, the greatest land battle the world has ever seen began when Nazi and Red Army forces clashed near the town of Kursk, on the western border of the Soviet Union. This savage battle of attrition would decide the outcome of the war on the Eastern Front. In The Battle of the Tanks, military historian Lloyd Clark has written the definitive account of an epic showdown that changed the course of history.
Code named “Operation Zitadelle,” the German offensive would cut through the bulge in the eastern front that had been created following Germany’s retreat at the battle of Stalingrad. But the Soviets, well-informed about Germany’s plans through their network of spies, had months to prepare. Two million men supported by 6,000 tanks, 35,000 guns, and 5,000 aircraft convened in Kursk for a confrontation that was one of the most important military engagements in history, the epitome of “total war.” It was also one of the most bloody, and despite suffering seven times more casualties, the Soviets won a decisive victory that became a turning point in the war.
Clark has created much more than a snapshot of the battle itself. Drawing on unprecedented access to the journals and testimonials of the officers, soldiers, political leaders, and citizens who lived through it, he has written a fully integrated political, economic, military and social overview of Germany and the Soviet Union from World War I onward. He pays particular attention to the rise of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, and how their respective political motivations and ideological fervor prepared their nations for war, and determined the course of the fighting.
After setting the stage, Clark takes us from the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, through the initial Soviet defeats and the Battle of Stalingrad, showing how this was a conflict like no other—an unbridled war of destruction marked by extreme hatred and brutality. Thus, his depiction of the scale, intensity and horror that marked the fighting at Kursk seems perfectly in keeping with what preceded it. His descriptions of the battle—the opening salvos on the morning of July 5, the massive air battle that followed, the main German armored attack, the final climax at the village of Prokhorovka, which involved some 1,000 tanks facing each other at point-blank range—are arrestingly visceral. Ultimately, Clark shows how Kursk came to represent the protracted industrial and economic struggle Hitler could not possibly win. The battle was destined to be Hitler’s last offensive in the East, and the harbinger of victory for the Soviet Union.
An incisive, exhaustively researched and brilliantly conceived history, The Battle of the Tanks is unique in the annals of World War II literature.
Hardcover Book : 528 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press ( November 01, 2011 )
Item #: 13-510286
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 21.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I was intensely interested in this book, hoping that Clark's latest research would show the truth of this battle, but instead it amounted to a rehash of earlier accounts that present a gross distortion of the facts. This book is more Russian propaganda than history. Kursk was an unmitigated Russian disaster and the Germans were close to a victory halted by other Russian offensives not a stalwart Russian defense at Kursk. His casualty statistics seem suspect and a reiteration of Russian reports to STAVKA. There was also no footnotes or sourcing for most of his eye witness anecdotes. Overall this book was disappointing!
Reviewer: William P
As others have said, the first half of the book is a rehash of prewar history and events leading up to the battle. The maps are for the most part useless; on one map, city and town names are garbled (Prokhorovka becomes Orkhvkrkkha, etc). there are tow sets of photographs, only one of which has Kursk subjects. The other set includes stock prewar and early war photographs.
I personally think Lloyd Clark phoned this one in.
Reviewer: Don P
Begins with a succinct but well presented recounting of the run-up to the Nazi invasion and precis of the early conflicts in USSR up until Kursk battles.A bit to micro on units' identification and command staffing,but still informative. A major drawback is the lack of comprehensible maps--the ones presented appear to be military productions of uncertain origin, totally unsuitable for casual reader use:;needed to refer continually to maps from other sources just to follow elemental Russian geography.not to say battle movements..
Reviewer: joel k
I had high hopes that this book would be a brand-new look at this historical and critical Eastern Front battle. I was really disappointed that half of the book was a rehash of Eastern Front history up to Kursk. Of the 460 pages, the battle of Kursk began at page 235!!! After reading the book, I found a number of rehashed, factually incorrect stories as well as some facts that are suspect. Although not a total loss, anyone who is a German Army or an Eastern Front historian will not learn much from this book.
Reviewer: Colonel D
The first half the book is devoted to events leading up to the battle - starting with the ending of World War I.
Leading into each chapter is a map. Unfortunately, the maps has no relationship with the subsequent chapter.
The author tries to cover too much and winds up providing a high level overview of the battle sprinkled with what appears to be anecdotes by battle participants describing their experience during the battle.
Reviewer: Gordon H