OVERRIDE

Ivan's War

Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Catherine Merridale

Metropolitan Books

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.


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Ivan's War
ONEMARCHING WITH REVOLUTIONARY STEP 
 
Whenever people think that they will have to fight a war, they try to picture what it will be like. Their stories seldom correspond to reality, but forecasting is not the purpose. Instead, the idea that the boys will soon be back or that the enemy will be destroyed with surgical precision, like the myth that it will all be over by Christmas, serves to foster a confident, even optimistic, mood at times when gloom might be more natural. In 1938, as the momentum for large-scale war gathered, the citizens of Stalin's empire, like
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REVIEWS

Praise for Ivan's War

"Unprecedented in its approach, Catherine Merridale's research into the lives of Red Army soldiers combined with her perception makes this a most fascinating and important work."
--Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad

"Catherine Merridale has done something very unusual. The Soviet war effort has been described many times but her new book tells the searing story from the bottom up. Her account of the sufferings of the Red Army soldiers and their families is unlikely to be bettered."
--Robert Service, author of Stalin: A Biography

"Merridale's new book is excellent. This unique, strikingly original account of the Red Army in World War II is a first-rate social history
as well as an important military study, and a stellar example of the combination of oral history with standard archival research. It makes the
soldiers of the Red Army come alive."

--Stanley Payne, Hilldale-Jaume Vicens Vives Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Ivan's War is a marvelous book. All of Catherine Merridale's virtues are on display: remarkable research (based in this case on literally hundreds of interviews with survivors and witnesses); a clear, unpretentious style that belies the complexity of her material; comfortable historical command of a dauntingly large theme; and a rare compassion and empathy for her subjects. Ivan's War confirms what anyone who read Night of Stone already knew: that Catherine Merridale is a superb historian, among the very best of her generation."

--Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

"This is an inventively researched and evocatively written study of the Soviet soldier on the blood-ridden Eastern Front. Using freshly available archival materials, as well as sparkling interviews with a vanishing generation of veterans, Merridale has provided an empathetic and realistic portrait of the men and women who, more than any other combat soldiers, brought down the Third Reich."

--Norman M. Naimark , author of The Russians in Germany and Fires of Hatred





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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Catherine Merridale

  • Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone, winner of Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature. A professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Independent and regularly presents history features for the BBC.

  • Catherine Merridale
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    Ivan's War

    Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

    Catherine Merridale

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Metropolitan Books

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