Boris Bogachev's memoirs give readers a glimpse of frontline life for a Red Army officer who went through the majority of the war serving as a platoon commander. Bogachev might not have found luck in his desire and eagerness to earn medals/awards or promotions, but he survived being wounded three times and the war in general - going on to a career as a military lawyer.
Bogachev joined the Red Army when he turned seventeen, at the end of 1941. After training, his unit was posted around Rzhev and participated in numerous offensive and defensive operations in the meat-grinder that took tens of thousands of lives for no real gains or success as the Germans eventually voluntarily gave up their positions and retreated to a more manageable defensive line. Bogachev was trained in an artillery school but as his memoirs describe, throughout the war he assumed command of a mortar platoon as well as a sapper platoon that was attached to tank formations. Although he wasn't initially trained for either mortars or being a sapper, he nonetheless made due with the decisions of those outranking him. The fact that a trained artilleryman was not utilized to his full potential either points to an overabundance of artillery officers in the Red Army (hard to believe considering the rate at which lower level officers were killed and wounded throughout the war) or that lieutenants were treated almost as poorly as soldiers - sent to where men were needed regardless of their qualifications.
The author spent a lot of time at the front even if he spent a great deal of time in medical battalions and hospitals. His impressions of what Red Army troops regularly experienced match what many others have written but he is much more forthcoming in a few areas. He makes no excuses for the numerous atrocities and acts of wanton destruction that greeted German soldiers and civilians in the latter part of the war. This is probably one of the few memoirs where readers will encounter numerous examples of Red Army troops (both male and female) executing enemy POWs (Germans and Soviet volunteers) but each situation the author covers also includes an attempted explanation for why such actions were taken (be it in the heat of battle, revenge for previous German atrocities, being in the enemy rear, etc.). Additionally, the author is quite vocal when discussing the numerous times he was denied medals and awards because someone in the rear deemed his actions not meritorious enough for the recommended commendation(s). He describes numerous cases of those who found themselves in the rear throughout the war receiving countless awards as frontline soldiers were denied an ability to exhibit their courageous acts. Although both of these issues are raised by other Red Army veterans, here they are front and center throughout the memoirs and make for a compelling narrative. This is especially the case as the author was able to work in the Ministry of Defense archives and present additional information he ran across to help readers in understanding his war experience(s).