Anthony Tucker-Jones
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
The author has written a very well researched and enjoyable book. This reviewer previously knew little of the war on the Eastern Front and is now much more knowledgeable about it. Kursk was one of the decisive battles and was the beginning of the end to the war in the east.

The author has not only looked at the actions of the military commands in some depth and their particular forms of infighting for political and military advantage including personal gain. Himmler’s role is included in the text regarding the manoeuvrings between all the major players. The civilian side is not neglected and details the various machinations within the Nazi party and access to Hitler for decisions is detailed. The rival satraps are illustrated for their Machiavellian moves.

Details are presented not just of the battle but of the support given to the Russian side by the Western Allies through the Arctic Convoys and the Southern Iranian route and how that melded into the Soviet logistics system. The problems and pitfalls of both side’s logistics and procurement chain is explored in some depth and how the situations were and were not overcome, particularly the contrast between highly complex against rough and ready equipment to wit the Tiger/Panther tanks and the T34.

It is related, that on the German side their armour was deficient in both numbers and capability with many tanks and armoured vehicles not fit for purpose for the coming battles, despite both military and ‘civilian’ attempts to ameliorate the situation. The Russian side had that great quality of numbers outnumbering the German forces at times with a ratio of 2:1 in terms of material both human and mechanical.

The author has described in some detail of the effects of airpower by both sides, during this offensive giving each, at times local air superiority but not air supremacy.

This was a part of World War Two, totally different to the war in the west, where the niceties of such things as the Geneva Convention was ignored, to be a prisoner on either side generally meant a death sentence either through surrender not being taken, to being captured and being eventually worked to death. Atrocities were committed on both side and many never returned home.

The author has shown that the Germans attacked the Russian anvil with a deficient hammer and failed, that anvil was used to forge the means of victory less than two years later.

This book is enjoyable reading and is well recommended for anybody with an interest in the war on the Eastern Front and in particular the Battle of Kursk.

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