In the late 1930s the Soviet Union experienced a brutal Ezhovshchina which swept through all levels of its society with millions arrested and tens of thousands shot for reasons lacking any form of ethics.As historian, E.R. Hooton describes in this absorbing and revealing history, the Soviet armed forces did not escape the bloody tidal wave which swept away the majority ofIn the late 1930s the Soviet Union experienced a brutal Ezhovshchina which swept through all levels of its society with millions arrested and tens of thousands shot for reasons lacking any form of ethics.As historian, E.R. Hooton describes in this absorbing and revealing history, the Soviet armed forces did not escape the bloody tidal wave which swept away the majority of their most experienced and gifted officers. One of the driving forces for the Red Army Purges was a bitter dispute between the conservatives and radicals who sought a form of warfare based on deep-roaming mechanised forces. But the conservatives’ ensuing bitterness was due to the fact that the radicals were unable to make the mechanised forces viable operationally and this failure would prove to be the major factor in driving the radicals to the execution chambers.Yet as the leadership of the Soviet forces was cut to pieces, the Red Army was deployed in operations at the extremities of Stalin’s empire. Despite showing ominous signs of weakness, in every case it triumphed. The Japanese had been defeated on the Korean border at Lake Khasan in 1938 and a year later suffered a major defeat on the Mongolian border at the River Khalkin (Khalkin Gol) in an offensive directed by the future Marshal Zhukov. These guns had barely ceased fire when there was a major invasion of eastern Poland following the Ribbentrop Pact. On the back of that, the Baltic States were compelled to allow the Russians to base forces in their borders.But as the Purges eased and Moscow became overconfident, the massive Red Army became enmeshed in the disastrous Winter War with Finland of 1939-1940 which saw its military prestige shattered and its invasion not only stopped, but dealt a series of major defeats. Victory of a kind, when it came, was pyrrhic.Following detailed research, the author provides a vivid and important insight into the operations conducted by the Red Army from 1937 to 1941 and makes some surprising conclusions about the impact of the Purges....
|Title||:||Stalin's Claws: From the Purges to the Winter War: Red Army Operations Before Barbarossa 1937-1941|
|Number of Pages||:||240 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Stalin's Claws: From the Purges to the Winter War: Red Army Operations Before Barbarossa 1937-1941 Reviews
E. R. Hooton's Stalin's Claws: From the Purges to the Winter War: Red Army Operations Before Barbarossa 1937-1941 studied the three major military campaigns fought by the Soviet Red Army between the purges of 1937 and Operation Barbarossa in 1941. These campaigns, with the exception of the Winter War in Finland, have been neglected in Western histories. Hooton examined the impact of the political upheaval imposed by the Communist Party on all levels of the Soviet officer corps and then drew a line connecting the purges' influence to the fighting against Japan in Manchuria (near Lake Khasan in 1938 and around Khalkhin Gol in 1939), the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland in 1939, and then the Winter War of 1939-40. It's a subject worthy of elucidation, but Hooton missed the opportunity. He exploited a number of good sources, although few in Russian, giving credit specifically to numerous websites created by and for military history enthusiasts. There are nuggets of gold here – if you can mine them from the deep strata of strangled prose, statistics, and oddly-transliterated Russian nomenclature and acronyms. Hooton was prone to clumsy and disjointed sentences and paragraphs, which sometimes required reading twice to ferret out the meaning. His book was more like a government report than a work of history. It lacked narrative verve and was not improved by containing no maps.Stalin's Claws: From the Purges to the Winter War: Red Army Operations Before Barbarossa 1937-1941 left me unimpressed. Considering Hooton's résumé, I expected better. He described the many websites used as sources as “assembled by amateurs, such as myself...” If your book's dust jacket blurb touts your twenty-five years as a defense journalist, are you an amateur? Should you still think of yourself as one? This book just crosses the threshold for Three Stars in my library.
Usually when one is reading books on military history, a reader has to slog through the background information but may look forward to reading about the narration of the battles. In the case of “Stalin’s Claws” the situation is inverted.E.R. Hooton uses a very succinct style of writing that can work well on a policy paper but not in a non-fiction book. Hooton does a decent job of covering the politics of the purges and some of the policies that lead to conflicts with Finland, Japan, Poland, Rumania, and the Baltic nations in a crisp, clear manner. However this style quickly becomes tedious when describing battles. You get a clear explanation of units involved and their numerical strengths and weaknesses, but it eventually gives the reader the feeling of having a bunch of numbers crammed into the brain without a true ground level “feel” for battles themselves.While I’m glad this particular area of history gets the notice that it deserves, this was not the best way to chronicle it.