Peter Mezhiritsky, On the Precipice. Stalin, the Red Army Leadership and the Road to Stalingrad, 1931-1942, New-York, Helion and Company, 2012.
Présentation de l'éditeur:
Like some astronomers, who discover cosmic objects not by direct observation, but by watching the deviations of known heavenly bodies from their calculated trajectories, Peter Mezhiritskiy makes his findings in history through thoughtful reading and the comparison of historical sources. This book, a unique blend of prosaic literature and shrewd historic analysis, is dedicated to events in Soviet history in light of Marshal Zhukov's memoirs. Exhaustive knowledge of Soviet life, politics and censorship, including the phraseology in which Communist statesmen were allowed to narrate their biographical events, gave Peter Mezhiritskiy sharp tools for the analysis of the Marshal's memoirs.
The reader will learn about the abundance of awkward events that strangely and fortuitously occurred in good time for Stalin's rise to power, about the hidden connection between the purges, the Munich appeasement and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, and about the real reason why it took so long to liquidate Paulus' Sixth Army at Stalingrad. The author presents a clear picture of the purges which promoted incompetent and poorly educated commanders (whose most prominent feature was their personal dedication to Stalin) to higher levels of command, leaving the Soviet Union poorly prepared for a war against the Wehrmacht military machine. The author offers alternative explanations for many prewar and wartime events. He was the first in Russia to acknowledge a German component to Zhukov's military education.
The second part of the book is dedicated to the course of the Great Patriotic War, much of which is still little known to the vast majority of Western readers. While not fully justifying Zhukov's actions, the author also reveals the main reason for the bloody strategy chosen by Zhukov and the General Staff in the defensive period of the War. In general, the author shares and argues Marshal Vasilevsky's conviction - if there had been no purges, the war would not have occurred.
The book became widely known to the Russian-reading public on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the last ten years its quotations have been used as an essential argument in almost all the debates about the WWII. The book is equally intended for scholars and regular readers, who are interested in Twentieth Century history.