Ivan's War

By Catherine Merridale,

Book cover of Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Book description

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources.

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked Ivan's War as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Merridale uses archival material and interviews with Soviet war veterans to personalize the war on the Eastern Front. This work moves beyond the number of combatants and tanks to focus on real life at the frontlines. She talks about issues that help the reader “feel” the war: what did soldiers eat given the well-known shortages and privations throughout the USSR; how did soldiers get warm clothes and boots; how did they obtain ammunition and artillery shells and new guns despite the long supply lines; was stealing accepted in the army; what behaviors were tolerated and which ones were punished; how…

In this deeply evocative book, Merridale takes us with the Red Army through the battlegrounds, wastelands, and liberated territories of the Eastern Front. We see the war and its horrors through the eyes of the Red Army soldiers: the city blocks reduced to dust and ashes, the starving women and children, the corpses stacked upon corpses. We leave the book with a lingering sense of the long-term effects of the war—the fatigue, the shock, and the disorientation—on the soldiers and on the entire Soviet Union.

From Francine's list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

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