Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945
Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 by Catherine Merridale
2006 | EPUB + MOBI | 2.89/3.28MB

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.

Survivor of the Long March: Five Years As a Pow 1940-1945

Survivor of the Long March: Five Years As a Pow 1940-1945
Survivor of the Long March: Five Years As a Pow 1940-1945 by Charles Waite, Dee La Vardera
2012 | EPUB | 3.05MB

Nothing prepares a man for war and Private Charles Waite, of the Queen's Royal Regiment, was ill-prepared when his convoy took a wrong turning near Abbeville and met 400 German soldiers and half a dozen tanks. "The day I was captured, I had a rifle but no ammunition." He lost his freedom that day in may 1940 and didn't regain it until April 1945 when he was rescued by Americans near Berlin, having walked 1,600 kms from East Prussia.

Silent for seventy years, Charles writes about his five lost years: the terrible things he saw and suffered; his forced work in a stone quarry and on farms; his period in solitary confinement for sabotage; and his long journey home in one of the worst winters on record, across the frozen river Elbe, to Berlin and liberation. His story is also about friendship, of physical and mental resilience and of compassion for everyone who suffered. Part of that story includes the terrible Long March, or Black March, when 80,000 British PoWs were forced to trek through a vicious winter westwards across Poland, Czechosolvakia and Germany as the Soviets approached. Thousands died. There are simply no memoirs of that terrible trek - except this one. So moved was ex-hostage Terry Waite on meeting Charles that he immediately offered to write a foreword to this book.

One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer: America, 1927
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
2013 | EPUB + MOBI | 2.72/3.66MB

In One Summer, Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life.

The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet.

Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history.

In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation.

The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover.

Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption.

The first true "talking picture" - Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry.

The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.

All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.