Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II by Dennis Showalter

The book description claims 'Armor and Blood' is 'the definitive account of the greatest tank battle of World War II', unfortunately that's far from accurate. The author himself admits this book offers nothing new or original but is a 'synthesis' of recent literature. As someone who's read their share of literature on the Second World War in general and the Eastern Front in particular, I'm always interested in new analysis and discussions that feature the Eastern Front. Yet 'Armor and Blood' seems a somewhat pointless text to me. A synthesis already assumes that there is no original research or new evidence to present the reading audience. But a synthesis in itself can be a useful tool if crafted from the newest research and offering original analysis. But having read close to a dozen books on the battle of Kursk I simply do not see where that original analysis is, nor did I see much of a narrative crafted from the newest literature available. Instead, what I encountered among the pages of 'Armor and Blood' is another German point-of-view text about the battle of Kursk with some minor mention of the Red Army every few pages. Once more the vaunted SS panzer force loses 3 or so tanks 'written-off' while the Red Army leaves on the field of battle hundreds of T-34s and T-70s and tens of thousands of men, which are readily replaced with the next batch of cannon fodder eager to die for the motherland. Unlike Zamulin's recently translated study of Prokhorovka that provided an enormous amount of new material for the western reader to digest, 'Armor and Blood' is another quickly forgotten regurgitation of all that is already pretty well known by those who've previously read about this battle. In addition, the lack of endnotes and bibliography (as with his previous 'Hitler's Panzers') makes for a less interesting reading experience for those interested to find out where the information presented is coming from.

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