Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Front Cover
Henry Holt and Company, Apr 1, 2007 - History - 480 pages
3 Reviews

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan -- as the ordinary Russian soldier was called -- remain a mystery. We know something about hoe the soldiers died, but nearly nothing about how they lived, how they saw the world, or why they fought.

Drawing on previously closed military and secret police archives, interviews with veterans, and private letters and diaries, Catherine Merridale presents the first comprehensive history of the Soviet Union Army rank and file. She follows the soldiers from the shock of the German invasion to their costly triumph in Stalingrad, where life expectancy was often a mere twenty-four hours. Through the soldiers' eyes, we witness their victorious arrival in Berlin, where their rage and suffering exact an awful toll, and accompany them as they return home full of hope, only to be denied the new life they had been fighting to secure.

A tour de force of original research and a gripping history, Ivan's War reveals the singular mixture of courage, patriotism, anger, and fear that made it possible for these underfed, badly led troops to defeat the Nazi army. In the process Merridale restores to history the invisible millions who sacrificed the most to win the war.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - CSL - LibraryThing

Ivan's War is primarily a social history of the Red Army during the Second World War. In doing so it looks mostly at the enlisted man and the junior officers involved mainly in the infantry - and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

A terrifying view of the average Red Army soldier in the largest and most brutal land conflict in human history. Read full review


True War Stories
Marching with Revolutionary Step
A Fire through All the World
Disaster Beats Its Wings
Black Ways of War
Stone by Stone
A Land Laid Waste
May Brotherhood Be Blessed
Sheathe the Old Sword
And We Remember All
Chronology of Main Events
List of Archives

Exulting Grieving and Sweating Blood
Despoil the Corpse

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Catherine Merridale is the author of the critically acclaimed Night of Stone, winner of Britain's Heinemann Award for Literature. A professor of contemporary history at the University of London, she also writes for the London Review of Books, the New Statesman, and The Independent and regularly presents history features for the BBC.

Bibliographic information