Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Lighthouse of Stalingrad:
Hard reading about the Russians as good guys right now.
The story of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II.
Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:
The U.S. suffered 419,000 killed in action in World War II. The Soviets suffered 27,000,000.
Fun Fact for History Nerds:
To put the previous number in perspective, the Russian Army needed to be replenished nearly 5 full times to keep fighting.
My Take on The Lighthouse of Stalingrad:
The Lighthouse of Stalingrad by Iain MacGregor is a tale of two books. Well, actually, one book and one major marketing error.
First, the good. MacGregor does a great job recapping the Battle of Stalingrad. MacGregor uses a hybrid style where he goes into great depths to talk about strategic aspects of the battle but will also drop down to the street level to give a view of the tactical warfare going on. If you have not read a book on Stalingrad, this is an excellently told one which moves at a steady pace without getting bogged down in details.
The bad, however, is a huge misstep. The title, “The Lighthouse of Stalingrad” is a reference to Pavlov’s House in Stalingrad. Without diving into too much detail, Pavlov’s House is a symbol of Russian resistance in World War II and is a cultural icon. Besides the title, the book description makes it seem like Pavlov’s House will play a huge role in the narrative. It does not. It takes up shockingly little. I have read about Stalingrad before, specifically, Antony Beevor’s Stalingrad which is the gold standard according to many including MacGregor in the introduction. I wanted to read this book because I thought it would be a more tactically focused book which dove into the myth of Pavlov’s House.
This book gets 3 stars out of 5. I feel guilty doing so as Iain MacGregor is an excellent writer and much of the book is excellent. However, the marketing seems to make a promise that it does not deliver on and that needs to be taken into account.
A very good book if you want on overview of Stalingrad but not if you want a deep dive on the Lighthouse of Stalingrad. Buy it here!