From critically acclaimed Eastern Front expert Prit Buttar comes this detailed and engrossing account of the war on the Eastern Front as the German forces were driven back following the Battle of Kursk.
Making use of the extensive memoirs of German and Russian soldiers to bring their story to life, the narrative follows on from On A Knife's Edge, which described the encirclement and destruction of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad and the offensives and counter-offensives that followed throughout the winter of 1942-43.
Beginning towards the end of the Battle of Kursk, Retribution explores the massive Soviet offensive that followed the end of Operation Zitadelle, which saw depleted and desperate German troops forced out of Western Ukraine. In this title, Buttar describes in detail the little-known series of near-constant battles that saw a weakened German army confronted by a tactically sophisticated force of over six million Soviet troops. As a result, the Wehrmacht was driven back to the Dnepr and German forces remaining in the Kuban Peninsula south of Rostov were forced back into the Crimea, a retreat which would become one of many in the months that followed.
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- Rodney W. Schmisseur
Solid, substantial military storytelling
Buttar picks up from “On a Knife’s Edge”, sidestepping the bloodletting at Kursk to detail the Soviet operations the first cleared and then breached the Dnepr with the recapture of Kiev and the drive to Zhitomir that closed 1943.
He weaves a robust storyline, well-mixed with German and Soviet voices from above and below, painting a gripping panorama of the sweeping blows, the desperate counter-thrusts, and the continuous bloodshed and attrition that marked the Soviet Summer/Fall offensives in 1943. The strategic initiative now is firmly in Soviet hands and the desperation of the German defense is vividly told.
One is left appreciating the courage and suffering on both sides by the common soldier, with battle after battle, largely without rest/refit and the vicious attrition that this constant warfare inflicted on the men of both sides. “When is my turn coming?” must have been a constant unavoidable thought in the soldiers minds, as the battles ground on through the fall and early winter, and comrades around you inevitably fell day after day after day.
This portion of the campaign has often been overlooked, and Buttar’s manuscript fills in many long-needed details. As an audiobook it is satisfying with some supplemental maps to provide an overview (see Wikipedia at a minimum) and the narrator does a good job with the Soviet and German references.
I have greatly appreciated Buttar’s now/substantial previous works, and Retribution adds another valuable work into the literature. I am looking forward to his next work!
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- Mary Spivey
Quality content but hard to follow
The reader was good. I found myself often confused as to which combatant army was being referred to.
Nearly all units of distance were provided in miles and (kilometers), rather then simply picking a single unit. This made for slightly disruptive sentence listening.
There is a solid recapitulation in the final chapter, however, throughout the book the content is repeated unnecessarily.
I learned a lot and am glad to have listened to this book that the author obviously put a great deal of effort into researching.