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  • Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941–1943
  • Alexander Hill
Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941–1943. By David M. Glantz. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005. ISBN 0-7006-1353-6. Maps. Photographs. Tables. Notes. Selected bibliography. Index. Pp. xix, 807. $39.95.

David Glantz dominates Soviet operational military history of the Great Patriotic War in the West, and this, the second volume in a trilogy of works, is likely to help maintain this position. Colossus Reborn is somewhere between a monograph and a reference work. Broken into three sections, the book first examines the course of the war during the period concerned, while the second studies organization and equipment, and the third focuses on the "human face" of the first two, looking at Soviet leadership and the context in which the rank-and-file fought. Those familiar with David Glantz's many other works will find relatively little that is new in the first section, although it does bring together key points in a concise manner. The second part is perhaps the most valuable, providing an excellent level of detail and coverage in the space available, most usefully on organizational matters, including for NKVD forces, although almost completely ignoring the navy. The third section is less "personal" than might be expected from the jacket blurb, offering little grass-roots testimony, although it contains much valuable material on matters having obvious impact on troops at the front, such as the issue of unitary command or the formation of penal battalions.

The wealth of valuable material in this work has been provided not as the introduction claims, through "exploiting a wealth of newly released Soviet (Russian) archival materials" (p. xvii), at least not directly, but largely through published Soviet and post-Soviet work up to the late 1990s which benefited from these materials. For a volume such as this, there is no need to claim or infer the widespread first-hand use of archival materials, since the available quantity of Soviet and post-Soviet material is so vast, and so valuable on many issues but the most sensitive. David Glantz's unrivalled mastery of the core of this material is without question, although more use could have been made of material published since the end of the 1990s. Given the fact that this book is aimed at English speakers, more reference could certainly have been made to the slowly increasing range of relevant English-language works. Hence, when discussing prewar conscription practice [End Page 534] and the impact of the Great Purges on the Red Army, one would have thought that mention could have been made of Roger R. Reese's Stalin's Reluctant Soldiers. When referring to G. F. Krivosheev's valuable Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses, it would have been more appropriate to refer to the more accessible English translation than to a Russian language edition.

Minor errors are inevitable in any work by even the most knowledgeable and accomplished authors. Table 8.6, mentioned on page 323, does not contain what it is supposed to, the table referred to apparently having been omitted. There are also, however, some rather niggling factual slips around the periphery of the core foci of this work, noticed not as a result of subsequent closer reading but during an initial skim through and glance at material most familiar to this reader. Hence, the Lend-Lease Act was not, according to what is arguably the standard work on the matter (Robert Huhn Jones, The Roads to Russia), extended to the Soviet Union in July 1941 but in November of that year (p. 659 n.60), and while it is claimed that the British had provided 750 tanks to the Soviet Union by the end of December 1941, they had actually delivered only 466 (p. 659 n.61). Also, the aircraft identified as an I-16 Rata fighter in the unnumbered photographic pages is in fact a KhAI-5 (R-10) light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. These errors are minor, but are mentioned because of the almost bible-like status this work and its companion volumes will acquire, in the main justifiably, for those interested in the Red Army during...


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pp. 534-535
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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Archived 2010
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