Enemy at the Gates

October 14, 2008
By Anonymous

When the Germans came knocking at the Soviets' door, the Soviets knocked back. Enemy at the Gates, written by William Craig and published by the Penguin Group in New York, New York in 1973, is a triumphant story based on real life events. The story details the battle of a few against many, and the struggles that they faced to ultimately overcome. Besides being exquisitely written, Enemy at the Gates is a book that pulls the reader along with the plot every step of the way, and leaves you rooting for the underdogs.

The book sets out to convey to the reader the inside details of the harrowing Battle of Stalingrad in World War II, what it meant, and the consequences of what happened there. The Germans had already invaded Russia, but they were now moving deeper into Russia, and soon found the resistance they had expected at a place neither side had expected. The newly formed city of Stalingrad. Craig begins you on the German side, undoubtedly so that you can offer them some sympathy and can remember their individual stories later in the book, when they are devastating the city and its people. From there he takes you to the Russian view of things, and continues back and forth throughout the book so that you understand what both sides were going through. He also gives you his estimation of what the leaders on both sides were thinking and planning. The indifference of attitudes he portrays for both sides' leaders ensure that your whole sympathy is with the individual soldier.

The Battle of Stalingrad turns out to be one of the longest and bloodiest battles in the last century. The detail that Craig uses helps you understand every aspect of the battle. From the setting in the steppes of Western Russia, to the intricate heart of the city of Stalingrad, Craig sets the scene as if you were one of the soldiers, just trying to make through to the end of the war itself. The Russians had been unprepared, which is what allowed the Germans to penetrate so far into their country. They manage to slow the German forces down while preparing their ultimate defense in Stalingrad. The war Russian soldiers are led by the infamous General Andrei Yeremenko and the Germans are led by the steadfast General Hans Hube. Even if you are someone who is not knowledgeable in the different aspects of warfare, Craig ensures that every part of the story of that fateful battle falls into place to give you the perfect understanding of what occurred.

The attention to detail that Craig provides, as well as his ability to make the complications of war easily understandable, makes this book a very worthy read. He manages to allow the reader to understand and accept both sides of the war, and gives you an inside look at the leaders and indvidual soldiers behind it. The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most decisive battles for the outcome in WWII. The Russians managed to stop the Germans in their tracks, and the Nazi army faced their costliest losses in the war to date. Even if the writing was not as superb as it is, the story of the Battle of Stalingrad is one to be learned by all. However, Craig's writing style is easily enjoyable to all and he keeps you entranced in the story until, almost without expecting it, the story comes to a shattering end. For these reasons, I give Enemy at the Gates well deserved 4 ¾ stars out of 5.

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