Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Friday, 8 August 2014
On the Precipice - Peter Mezhiritsky
Title: On the Precipice
Author: Peter Mezhiritsky ISBN: 978-1-909384-95-8 Publisher: Helion and Company Softcover Pages: 399 Photos/Maps: 27/7
This book represents one of the
first comprehensive Russian studies of the impact of Stalin's purges upon the
psychology and effectiveness of the Soviet military running from the period
1932 to 1941. It is a fascinating subject, little understood by the West, as it
touches upon a myriad of subjects:
1. Why did the Leadership of the
post-Tsarist Soviet army allow itself to be culled without reaction;
2. What were the underlying
causes that drove Stalin to undertake such a draconian course;
3. How was Stalin able to create
an environment within which he was able to wipe out his officer class;
4. What impact did Stalin's
actions have on countries outside of the Soviet Union;
5. Why did the Red Army stay
loyal to Stalin's government; and
6. What impact did Stalin's
actions have upon the effectiveness of those leaders of the Red Army that
survived the purges?
Any student of military history,
international relations and psychology has a rich subject to look at here. At
no time in history has the leadership of a nation undertaken such a thorough
bloodletting of its professional military class, followed by a devastating war
and come out at the end stronger than when it started.
Unfortunately, this book has a
number of drawbacks that take away from its enjoyment and utility. Primary
amongst these is the writing style of the author. The closest that I can come
to relating to it is to compare it to a discussion with an old uncle relating
stories of his past after having had a few drinks. He is not completely drunk
but is certainly not sober and trying to follow his line of discourse can be
challenging in the extreme. Regularly, the author's narrative seems more like a
stream of consciousness rather than a structured study. Subjects are brought up
but not completely finished before the author is on to a different track. This
is both extremely frustrating and confusing.
The book has a number of
interesting nuggets of information for those willing to wade through its
narrative and the subject is one that is absolutely horrifying and fascinating;
however, I would recommend it only for those with time and patience looking for
a starting point from which to follow up on the subject of Stalin's purges.
This is not the definitive work on the subject and, while the author has made
an obvious effort to shed light using Russian primary sources and deserves
credit for his undertaking, this is not a book that a typical Western reader
would appreciate or easily follow.