Antony Beevor beskriver den menneskelige og militære tragedie mere levende, præcist og veldokumenteret end det nogensinde er set før. Dette er ikke blot historieskrivning - det er virkelighed, og man er med helt ude ved fronten.
Slaget om Stalingrad under 2. verdenskrig beskrives fra tyskernes første angreb i sensommeren 1942 til tilintetgørelsen af den 6. Tyske Armé og den tyske overgivelse i februar 1943. Beevor gør også rede for optakten: de tyske krigsforberedelser og lynkrigsoffensiven med Sovjetunionen sommeren 1941.
This gripping account of Germany's notorious campaign combines sophisticated use of previously published firsthand accounts in German and Russian along with newly available Soviet archival sources and caches of letters from the front. For Beevor (Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949), the 1942 German offensive was a gamble that reflected Hitler's growing ascendancy over his military subordinates. The wide-open mobile operations that took the 6th Army into Stalingrad were nevertheless so successful that Soviet authorities insisted they could be explained only by treason. (Over 13,000 Soviet soldiers were formally executed during the battle for Stalingrad alone.) Combat in Stalingrad, however, deprived the Germans of their principal force multipliers of initiative and flexibility. The close-gripped fighting brought men to the limits of endurance, then kept them there. Beevor juxtaposes the grotesque with the mundane, demonstrating the routines that men on both sides developed to cope with an environment that brought them to the edge of madness. The end began when German army commander Friedrich von Paulus refused to prepare for the counterattack everyone knew was coming. An encircled 6th Army could neither be supplied by air nor fight its way out of the pocket unsupported. Fewer than 10,000 of Stalingrad's survivors ever saw Germany again. For the Soviet Union, the victory became a symbol not of a government, but of a people. The men and women who died in the city's rubble could have had worse epitaphs than this sympathetic treatment.