Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marshal of Victory: The Autobiography of General Georgy Zhukov by Georgy Zhukov, Geoffrey Roberts

Those interested in a semi-censored look at the Great Patriotic War through the eyes of one of the leading commanders to come out of the Red Army would do well to invest in Zhukov's memoirs, which are presented here with an introduction by Geoffrey Roberts. Roberts has written numerous works on the Soviet Union and in part on the Second World War and does an excellent job detailing an introduction to this second edition of Zhukov's memoirs. Additionally, two 'essays' are included following the two volumes of Zhukov's memoirs detailing his thoughts on Stalin and events 'After the Death of Stalin.'

Zhukov's attempts to publish his memoirs met with many obstacles, first was his demotion under Stalin and the entire freeze around publications on the war while Stalin lived, which was followed by his eventual ousting by Khrushchev as well. It was only in the late 1960s, two decades after the end of the Second World War, that Zhukov's censored memoirs were published. Soon after another edition was released, and that second edition what has been translated here (originally done in the 1980s). To date there are over a dozen editions of Zhukov's memoirs in Russian with various censored sections being included each time a new edition is released. I would have greatly appreciated if the newest, or one of the latter editions, was re-translated with additions highlighted or italicized (as it was done in Russian). While Roberts explains in his introduction that much of what was cut out was done so with Zhukov's authorization, due to repetition or needless description, it would still have been beneficial to see a full translation of something western readers have been denied thus far.

As for the two volumes presented here, they are an excellent addition to any WWII library. Undoubtedly you'll encounter more than enough Soviet-era propaganda, but nonetheless, the insights presented here are worth wading through Zhukov's appeals to party and state on a regular basis. Whatever you might think of Zhukov as a man, he more than proved himself as a competent commander and was on the 'front lines' in most of the major operations conducted by the Red Army throughout the entirety of the Great Patriotic War.

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