To Besiege a City by Prit Buttar

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for To Besiege a City:

I hate being forced to root for the Soviets.

Quick synopsis:

A look at the first two years of the siege of Leningrad in World War II.

Fact for Non-History People:

The Germans took about 5.7 million Soviet soldiers prisoner during World War II. About 3.3 million did not survive.

Fact for History Nerds:

Leon Trotsky’s real name was Lev Davidovich Bronstein. That’s not very Marxist sounding so he needed to change it.

My Take on To Besiege a City:

To Besiege a City is just another example of what author Prit Buttar does so well. He has written a history of the siege of Leningrad which will satisfy both military history buffs and people looking for a great story. Both sets of people will feel more enlightened by the end of the narrative and will have enjoyed the journey Buttar takes them on. I almost feel like my praise sounds rather ho hum, but this kind of history is exceedingly difficult to keep interesting and informative. I love military history but understand how some people’s eyes might glaze over reading about the movements of an army. Buttar knows this and intersperses the story with the actual words of people who were there and gives much needed perspective.

The other piece, which I thought was exceptional in To Besiege a City, is Buttar’s analysis of the German and Red Army. There is very often a general view that the German Army was nearly unstoppable and Stalingrad was where hubris became their undoing. Buttar doesn’t go for simplistic interpretations and takes a deep dive into the resources, strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, the decisions which decided the fate of Leningrad. If you are a World War II buff, you need to read this.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Osprey Publishing.)


A great book of military history. Buy it here!

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To Besiege a City by Prit Buttar
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