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Author: Niklas Zetterling & Anders Frankson
Stars 4.5 (out of 5)
Picked up this book and had it sitting on my 'To Read' pile and finally got around to finishing it off. Not disappointed at all.
This book is on the German forces that were surrounded by the Soviets around Cherkassy. The chapters start off with the Soviet & German forces build up and how they were organised. On the German side, not so much as a build up, but how the forces were organized and who was facing who. All the major unit commanders are identified for both forces. The chapters continue with the Soviet pincer assaults and then what happens to both the Germans and Soviets once the pinchers are closed.
On the German side the relief on both the land and in the air begins and on the Soviet side which forces were getting reinforced and which were not. The book describes how the German air force continued to land and supply the trapped forces and take out the wounded. Chapters also describe the land forces break down of where the tanks went and who led them and when the battles commenced with the Soviets that were encircling the trapped forces.
The final chapters describe the German breakout along 3 different routes. Describing how some routes met with little Soviet resistance and how some routes were blocked by Soviet forces or by natural barriers (rivers). Though the exact numbers are hard to be known there are some very well documented sources that the authors have used that have come pretty close to the number of Germans that escaped the pocket.
I did get the impression though of the authors trying to level off the book....for each description of a bold or "good" move the Germans did they immediately had to make a statement of a Soviet move.
The book has a lot of maps that make it easy to follow along how the 'pocket' looked during certain phases of the battle. There are only a few photos, and there are some charts too. Recommend the book!
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Zetterling's book has a lot of research done on German unit strengths and focuses a lot on the panzer operations outside of the pocket. It has good coverage of the air-lift operation. Everything else is general. This is its main utility.
Hell's Gate is a much more complete account of the battle and much more vast in overall content than this book. It is a result of a tremendous research project. However, Zetterling adds a lot more to the panzer and airlift element of the battle. So Zetterling's book should be seen as a complement to Nash's Hell's Gate, not a stand-alone.
Both books, as usual, are focused mostly on the German POV and german research. Zetterling's book is about 10:90 (soviet/german) while Nash's is about 20:80 (soviet/german).
What both books do not answer in detail is why the Soviets had so much trouble stopping Breith's second big push.