Tank Rider: Into the Reich with the Red Army

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Tank Rider: Into the Reich with the Red Army Book Cover Tank Rider: Into the Reich with the Red Army
Evgeni Bessonov
Military History
Greenhill Books

I just finished this book and found it to be one of the most interesting WWII memoirs that I've read. Here's what I liked about it:

1) This is the most honest Russian account of WWII that I've ever read. The author tells it like he sees it, even when it is not necessarily flattering for the Red Army: the absence of Russian fighter cover, tankers refusing to advance against panzerfausts or Tigers, fraticide, bungling, commanders mysteriously always absent from the fighting, etc. That said, the author's pride in his men and his unit's achievements is obvious.

2) Unlike some other military memoirs, where the author might start the war as a colonel and end as an army commander, this author remains a platoon leader for almost two years of constant fighting. While he seems to have been constantly passed over for promotion, he was constantly assigned to the most dangerous missions in the leading elements of his brigade (overall, this book really reminded of IN DEADLY COMBAT by Bidermann).

3) While the book focuses on the fighting, there is also plenty about rest periods, what they ate, how they interacted with civilians, etc. From this perspective, this book is vastly more informative about the Russian soldiers' experience during the war than the more highly acclaimed IVAN'S WAR and more interesting than books like FIGHTING FOR THE SOVIET MOTHERLAND by Loza.

What didn't I like? Nothing really...not many maps, but they are not really missed given the small scale of the engagements described in the book and the good descriptions by the author.

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