Friday, September 16, 2022

The Soviet Army's High Commands in War and Peace, 1941–1992 by Richard W. Harrison

I was very much looking forward to this volume but the approach is somewhat limited and the end result leaves something to be desired. Richard Harrison has produced some excellent monographs in the form of 'The Russian Way of War' and 'Architect of Soviet Victory in World War II.' The former included a well-researched and in-depth exploration of the evolution of Russian/Soviet strategy and the latter focused in on one of the more important Soviet military theorists from the 1920s and 1930s. This present volume, which purports to look at the 'High Commands' created during and after the Second World War is simply not in the same league. 

The author readily admits the source base is limited and as a result so is his analysis and the larger ideas he can extrapolate from the primary and secondary sources at his disposal. As a result, much of the attention when it is focused on the Second World War is a rehashing of activities from 1941 and 1942 often based on Soviet era sources. Although there are some worthwhile insights, it's next to impossible to tell what the importance of these 'high commands' was and if they weren't that important, then why devote an entire volume to them? Those familiar with the Eastern Front or the Soviet war experience might find some interesting commentary but be prepared to slog through a lot of pages for those golden nuggets. Whereas the author's previous volumes I would argue are valuable contributions to the larger discussion of Soviet military theory and the Soviet Second World War experience, this volume, unfortunately, falls short.

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