Ivan's War by Catherine Merridale
Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

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Synopsis

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, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe’s most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan—as the ordinary Russian soldier was called—remain a mystery. We know something about hoe the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought.
     Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with veterans, and private letters and diaries, Catherine Merridale presents the first comprehensive history of the Red Army rank and file. She follows the soldiers from the shock of the German invasion to their costly triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through the soldiers’ eyes, we witness their victorious arrival in Berlin, where their rage and suffering exact an awful toll, and accompany them as they return home full of hope, only to be denied the new life they had been fighting to secure.
     A tour de force of original research and a gripping history, Ivan’s War reveals the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In the process Merridale restores to history the invisible millions who sacrificed the most to win the war.


 

About Catherine Merridale

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Catherine Merridale is a Senior Lecturer in history at the University of Bristol. She holds degrees from Cambridge & Birmingham. This book was supported by grants from the MacArthur Foundation, the British Academy, & the Russian Academy of Science. She is the author of two academic books on Russia & has written for the prestigious History Workshop Journal. She lives in Bristol, England.
 
Published April 1, 2007 by Metropolitan Books. 484 pages
Genres: History, War, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ivan's War

Kirkus Reviews

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Glorified by Soviet myth-makers as simple, heroic “Ivan,” the common soldier in the Red Army in fact grappled with despair and his own government as well as the Nazis.

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Publishers Weekly

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Thirty million men and women served in the Red Army during WWII. Over eight million of them died. Living or dead, they have remained anonymous. This is partly due to the Soviet Union's policy o

Dec 05 2005 | Read Full Review of Ivan's War: Life and Death in...

The New York Times

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A British scholar looks at World War II from the point of view of the Soviet soldier.

Apr 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Ivan's War: Life and Death in...

Publishers Weekly

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She carefully details the soldiers' age and ethnic diversity, and she puts a human face on a fact demonstrated repeatedly by retired U.S. officer and Soviet military expert David Glantz: the Red Army learned from the experience of its near-collapse in 1941, and by 1945 its soldiers were more than...

Dec 05 2005 | Read Full Review of Ivan's War: Life and Death in...

Bookmarks Magazine

Bruce Ramsay Critical Summary Doing research in the Soviet archives seems like a trying task, but critics revere the work Catherine Merridale did to prepare Ivan’s War.

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of Ivan's War: Life and Death in...

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