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Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942

Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: The Red Army's Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942

Paperback Modern War Studies (Paperback)

By (author) David M. Glantz

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  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Format: Paperback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 23mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 30 September 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Kansas
  • ISBN 10: 0700614176
  • ISBN 13: 9780700614172
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 24 photographs, 24 maps
  • Sales rank: 253,260

Product description

One of the least-known stories of World War II, Operation Mars was an epic military disaster. Designed to dislodge the German Army from its position west of Moscow, Mars cost the Soviets an estimated 335,000 dead, missing, and wounded men and over 1,600 tanks. But in Russian history books, it was a battle that never happened--a historical debacle sacrificed to Stalin's postwar censorship. David Glantz now offers the first definitive account of this forgotten catastrophe, revealing the key players and detailing the major events of Operation Mars. Using neglected sources in both German and Russian archives, he reconstructs the historical context of Mars and reviews the entire operation from High Command to platoon level. Orchestrated and led by Marshal Georgi Kostantinovich Zhukov, one of the Soviet Union's great military heroes, the twin operations Mars and Uranus formed the centerpiece of Soviet strategic efforts in the fall of 1942. Launched in tandem with Operation Uranus, the successful counteroffensive at Stalingrad, Mars proved a monumental setback. Fought in bad weather and on impossible terrain, the ambitious offensive faltered despite spectacular initial success in some sectors: Zhukov kept sending in more troops and tanks only to see them decimated by the entrenched Germans. Illuminating the painful progress of Operation Mars with vivid battle scenes and numerous maps and illustrations, Glantz presents Mars as a major failure of Zhukov's renowned command. Yet, both during and after the war, that failure was masked from public view by the successful Stalingrad operation, thus eliminating any stain from Zhukov's public image as a hero of the Great Patriotic War. For three grueling weeks, Operation Mars was one of the most tragic and agonizing episodes in Soviet military history. Glantz's reconstruction of that failed offensive fills a major gap in our knowledge of World War II, even as it raises important questions about the reputations of national military heroes.

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Author information

David M. Glantz is founder and former director of the U.S. Army's Foreign Military Studies Office. His many books include The Battle of Kursk, The Battle for Leningrad, When Titans Clashed, Stumbling Colossus, and Colossus Reborn (see pages 31 and 49)

Review quote

"The Soviet dead, missing and wounded were estimated at a staggering 335,000. Glantz describes the appalling carnage that occurred in the forests, mud, fog, freezing temperatures and raging snowstorms of western Russia [and] brings Operation Mars vividly to life." - New York Times Book Review "This gripping study of the Soviet counter-offensive - a work of permanent value - reveals the full extent of Zhukov's failure." - New York Review of Books "Glantz's evidence is impressive, his conclusions totally convincing, and the actual military detail unrivaled in the literature. A truly important work." - Malcolm Macintosh, author of Juggernaut: A History of Soviet Armed Forces "Shows how greatly Soviet leaders distorted the war's history in their attempts to present themselves as incapable of error." - International History Review "Vivid, powerful, compelling." - World War II"