Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov by Geoffrey Roberts, Random House.
“There is only one thing which these gentlemen who long for the western way of life cannot explain – why we beat Hitler.”
Bit of a gob smacker, that, at least for those whose knowledge of WWII comes from Hollywood and Ken Burns. Sure, the Russians were part of the alliance, but, you know – Pearl Harbor, Dunkirk, Normandy Beach, Battle of the Bulge, Midway, Hiroshima, those places were where the action was. The Russian Front, that was some place Germans were sent for punishment.
Well, it’s only natural to focus on the home team, but that war strikes closer to the bone in Russia than America. They suffered 90 to 95% of all allied casualties. Not for the Soviets was this an ecumenical affair of Allied nations fighting shoulder to shoulder, a World War if you like. For Russians, it was, and is, the Great Patriotic War. They point to the cost to the motherland, and can still grumble over the west’s failure to open a second front in a timely fashion.*
And they point to Georgy Zhukov as the greatest Soviet general of that war. Continue reading