It doesn't surprise me to see all the five star reviews on amazon; ignorance and conspiracy theories usually deliver what readers are inclined to agree with when a factual foundation is missing. Viktor Suvorov, AKA Rezun, is a spy and traitor. Those who want to conceive of him as anything else are free to do so, but both those titles are a part of his history and who he is. The author is a self-proclaimed 'intelligence operative' and not an historian, which should already mean something to those who think this account comes anywhere close to historical discourse. This is also not someone who ever had access to Soviet/Russian archives. He claims to have seen German documents in Podolsk, but claiming so and proving it are two different things. This book is a combination of "ideas" taken out of a dozen or so of Suvorov's other works. There is a reason the majority of his books were never translated, they are worthless. The man is smart, but his grasp of history is fickle, whether he does this on purpose or actually believes in his own lies is a question I cannot answer. And I have to say, overall, this book was painful to read. Not solely because I know of his lies, but mainly because of how he tries to bring things that have nothing in common together. In reading this book I find it interesting that no one noticed how many sides Suvorov caters to. For Germany he provides an acquittal to Barbarossa, Stalin was readying for war, they had a right to defend themselves. He appeases Russians by blaming everything on Stalin, the Soviet Union was strong, the Red Army the greatest, but Stalin forgot who to trust and not to trust. And he appeases Stalinists by describing how smart and ruthless Stalin was, hence his bashing of figures like Mikhail Tukhachevsky and his cheerleading for Stalinist purges.
This is a book built on fallacies, straw men, twisted facts, omitted context, and baseless theories delivered in the form of a kindergarten lecture. Starting with his introduction, a standard is set that Suvorov adheres to in the rest of his text. On pg. xix the author mentions how the Soviet Union contained two field armies in June of 1939 neither of which were deployed in the "European part of the Soviet Union", for a moment we will give him the benefit of the doubt (since no sources or citations are listed). He also claims that by June 1941 there were twenty-six field armies deployed in the European 'part of the country' (in reality there were about 21, two of which were only on paper and without any troops, source is Боевой Состав Советской Армии). The end result is the question of if Stalin trusted Hitler why did he deploy so many troops against him. Well, to begin, in June of 1939 Stalin did not share a border with Hitler. By June of 1941 the Soviet Union had also been involved in a few wars/invasions, that is the Winter War, war with Japanese troops at Khalkhin Gol, the invasion of Eastern Poland, and the occupation of the Baltics and Bessarabia and Bukovina. All of this context is forgotten about. Lastly, while Stalin might have trusted in the non-aggression pact, that is not Hitler per se, but a beneficial pact to both countries, he was not stupid and understood that war was on the horizon.
Now, on pg. xxii we're presented with the idea that since Zhukov and Vasilevsky wrote up a pre-emptive strike against Germany, they were awarded the rank of Marshal two years later. There is no correlation between one and the other aside from in the author's mind, fallacy doesn't even begin to cover the kind of ignorance being pandered here. Yet these kinds of out-of-context conclusions are the type of evidence you should be prepared to believe in, since that's all he'll give you. Leaving out context once more he describes the leaders of the Communist Party as all having aliases, which they did, hinting that they took those aliases because of their criminal pasts. He of course leaves out the fact that Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev most likely undertook aliases to hide their Jewish identities which they no longer identified with.
What Suvorov is also keen to do is make up situations, create straw men, and then knock them down all the while casting blame on various figures. He blames Trotsky and Lenin for 'demolishing the Russian army' and claims that Germany's position was 'completely hopeless' leaving out the fact that Germany proper had yet to be invaded and it was the French army that was collapsing, as well as the Russian army which simply could do nothing more of substance after the casualties from Brusilov's offensive. What evidence does he give you? None, aside from "Russia was allied with the mighty French and British colonial empires", empires that would have been defeated on mainland Europe if not for Russia's advances against Germany in 1914 and the destruction of two Russian armies at Tannenberg. But, once more, are the conclusions you, the reader, have to accept without question. Simulatenously he blames Lenin and Trotsky once again on the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, forgetting that German forces were forging into Russian territory practically unopposed and it was a sacrifice Lenin was willing to make since he believed in a future world revolution which would return the territory to Russia. This is actually evident in the book itself, pg. 28, when he quotes Zinoviev saying that peace will be temporary and that peace with Germany will only be 'episodic'. Unfortunately this is solely a quote that starts the chapter, not something Suvorov would go into detail about, since it would prove counterproductive to his underlying lies. Suvorov also forgets that one of the reasons the Bolsheviks were able to seize power was thanks to their platform of being against the war, one of the main reasons Alexander Kerensky's government did not last. Will you read about any of this here? No, because this man is not an historian, nor does he know much about the subject matter he dictates to you, the reader.
When discussing the treaty of Rapallo, which he never names (go figure), he describes how Stalin apparently "prepared Germany for a second world war." He forgets that Stalin was not in a position to dictate such actions in the early 1920s, he also omits how much the Soviets received from the Germans through their officer exchange programs, etc. (see " The Red Army and the Wehrmacht: How the Soviets Militarized Germany, 1922-33, and Paved the Way for Fascism" although most of the militarization really took part after Hitler came to power).
On pg. 20 Suvorov claims Stalin 'presented Hitler with Poland, and the rest of Europe.' Really? What happened to the fact that Stalin wanted to ally with England and France against Hitler? What happened to Stalin wanting to send the Red Army to help protect Czechoslovakia before England and France gave it away at Munich? You won't find that information here, rather, Stalin 'presented' Hitler with Poland, sure thing.
The chapter on "Stalin and the Destruction of Soviet Strategic Aviation" is greatly lacking. The Soviet Union, after the purges of the Red Army, convinced itself through propaganda that any attack would be easily repulsed and the war would be taken to the enemy. Hence there was no need for a strategic air force, rather one that supported the Red Army operationally and tactically. Hence the IL-2 and the PE-2 rather than ineffective mass strategic bomber strikes which from a large altitude did less damage than they were worth. The reason Soviet pilots were no match for their German counterparts? They weren't taught to dogfight. Proof? None. Once more context is forgotten when speaking of Soviet T-34 and KV tanks. Yes, they were excellent designs and proved their worth in battle. But, the Germans still succeeded in destroying or capturing the majority of them throughout 1941 for a variety of reasons, not exactly proof of a country preparing to go to war with battle-tested weapons and crews. It isn't only the tank design that needs to be studied but in what atmosphere they operated in. The chaotic days of June/July 1941 were not representative of an armed force readying for war, rather a surprised Red Army scrambling for its life.
Suvorov also claims that BT tanks were to be used as an 'offensive' tank along the enemy's road system, aka autobahn. Problem is, BT tanks were built in the early 1930s, before the creation of the autobahn. In general, little is said of the design history of any tank and the problems they encountered, only that they were 'the best in the world.' Suvorov's biggest problem is that he thinks defensive actions on the part of an armed force consist solely of defensive actions. Counter-attacks and offensives are a moot point for him, this master strategist, who apparently has no idea of what defensive warfare consists of. Thus, when speaking of paratroopers, he states that they can only be used on the offensive, OK, but that offensive action can be part of a defensive campaign.
Some of the nonsensical 'facts' Suvorov draws to the readers attention are an order issued by Tukhachevsky on June 23, 1921, then follows up with 'twenty years later, Russia would be invaded...' Really? Did this order of Tukhachevsky about how to handle 'bandits' predict the German invasion of the Soviet Union? If not, why is it mentioned? Stretching reality to fit his own twisted version of history, nothing more nothing less.
One of the worst chapters of this book is entitled 'The Cleansing' rather the the purge that actually took place. This chapter tries to claim that the Red Army purges were not as detrimental to the Red Army as many had assumed. True enough, the problem is the atmosphere that they left in their wake. Over 600 generals were arrested, those who took their place were new to their positions. One example, Kirponos, the commander of the Kiev Military District on the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union commanded a division during the Winter War against Finland. He was a competent commander but totally out of his league as a military district, and soon front, commander. Independent thinking and actions were curbed, generals sought out orders and assurances of those orders before they could even begin to think or act. Once again, context is ignored, numbers are thrown around as if they are the answer to all your questions.
All of the above is found within the first 100 pages of this book. At times I have to say I have to force myself to continue to read such drivel. There is also plenty I've left out and which would require pages upon pages to document and put into a historical context. Hard to feel anything but pity and disgust at such a horrid work of fiction being passed off as history, even worse, accepted as the latter by a gullible public.