Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Barbarossa Derailed - The New Book Series by David Glantz

Pop quiz!

Do you know the orders Timoshenko gave to the 20th Army at 1800 hours on 17 August 1941?

I do, because I'm reading Barbarossa Derailed: The Battle for Smolensk, 10th July-10 September 1941, Volume 1, by David Glantz.

What a book, dear friends. It is the most detailed account of the Battle for Smolensk from the grand-tactical and the operational level point of view. The book leans heavily towards the Soviet point of view, but it doesn't fall too short on the German one. It is a book where you will find a lot of information in each of the 600+ pages, so take it slowly. The writing is very clear but (at least on what I have read since I got it) it is focused in formations of the size of divisions and above. If you are looking for a narrative or stories of individual divisions, regiments or soldiers, this book will not fit the bill. This is not a book for the casual reader and it's big physical size doesn't make it a good bed reading.

Volume 1 (already released) and volume 2 (to be released in March) will be a chronological narrative of the operations. Volume 3 will be a collection of orders and reports translated from Russian archives. Volume 4 will be an atlas with color maps made from scratch.

I continue to read this book but I will add a big side dish of war gaming. Following the narrative with the help of maps found in war games is a lot of fun. War gaming the situations described in the book will be fantastic.

John Tiller's Panzer Campaigns Smolensk 41 (published by HPSSims), here shown with MapMod (, is one of the best to get your war gaming fix of what you read in the book.

SSGs Across the Dnepr Second Edition (published by Matrix Games), also a very good war gaming match for the contents of the book.
Gary Grigsby's War in the East (published by Matrix Games) offers another great war gaming fix for the readers of Barbarossa Derailed.  The lower level of detail of the terrain (less terrain features due to the increased size of terrain represented by each hex) and the lack of a scenario focused exclusively in the Battle for Smolensk may be an issue, though.  
And before I forget, Timoshenko's orders to 20th Army were:

To Comrade Lukin:
-Commit 161st RD in the Sopshino, the railroad bridge over the Dnepr River, and Dobromino sector
-Commit 129th RD in the Dobromino and Klokova sector, after leaving one regiment at the boundary with 24th Army to protect the Novyi Iakovlevichi and Glinka axis.
-Have 153rd, 229th and 73rd RD begin their attack west of the Dnepr River when 161st and 129th RD reach the El'nia-Smolensk railroad.

Above text from page 444 of Barbarossa Derailed, Volume 1.



Jerry said...

I'm looking forward to reading the series as well.

JC said...

Hi Jerry and thanks for your comment.

This is "the" study on the battle of Smolensk.


Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry said...

It will be interesting to see how the map volume turns out. I was thinking that maps had been a weak point previously, but taking a quick look at his Kursk book, and Operation Mars book they look fine.

JC said...

Hi Jerry,

Yes, spot on. There are a lot of maps in volume 1. Many are of good quality, some are so-so and a few are atrocious (like a xerox of a xerox).I wish those maps in volume 4 would be like the ones in the operation mars book.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I will surely pick it up.
I am playing PzC Smolensk right now and kind of struggling. I also got Gary Grigsby's War in the East but I have not yet had time to try it.


JC said...

Hi Coredump,

It is a great book. I'm going to add your blog to the blogroll. Good stuff!