Monday, November 7, 2011

Five best battlefield memoirs

Max Hastings's latest book is Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945.

One of his five best eyewitness accounts from the battlefield, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
A Writer at War
by Vasily Grossman (2005)

Vasily Grossman was a celebrated Russian war correspondent, but his dispatches about the Red Army's experience during World War II were rigorously censored. By contrast, Grossman's notebooks, published as "A Writer at War," frankly depict the chaos, anguish, incompetence, heroism, cowardice and ultimate triumph of Russia's struggle. "I thought I'd seen retreat," he wrote during the disastrous early campaigns of 1941, "but I've never seen anything like what I'm seeing now. . . . Exodus! Biblical exodus! Vehicles are moving in eight columns, there's the violent roaring of dozens of trucks trying simultaneously to tear their wheels out of the mud. Huge herds of sheep and cows are driven through the fields. . . . There are also crowds of pedestrians with sacks, bundles, suitcases. This isn't a flood, this isn't a river, it's the slow movement of a flowing ocean." Grossman was a worthy chronicler of historic catastrophe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue