Stalingrad: Letters from the Volga
This graphic history rapidly overviews the Battle of Stalingrad. Each chapter begins with a letter from a German soldier. Each letter is followed by a description of the battle’s development and an illustrated portrayal of the events. It should be noted here that a major issue concerning the book is that the authenticity (or otherwise) of the “letters” from the German soldiers is not made apparent.
The account is fairly engaging and covers the chronology of the battle, and the book’s value lies in its utility as an introduction to the subject. However, the storytelling can be confusing at times and the plot should not be considered a reliable historical account. Additionally, the author’s target audience is unclear. The graphic portions could easily be aimed at children and teens, while the historical prose seems made for amateur war historians. These sections also seem to be in conflict with each other in terms of tone.
That said, it is a book in translation, which may explain the odd sentence structure. While I try to read generously, especially with translated works, this book has other issues that detract from its potential power to interest young readers in history. For instance, the objectivity of the work is questionable. At times, the Germans appear sympathetic while the Russians are presented as cruel killers. This effect is heightened by the fact the Russians’ words often appear in Cyrillic, meaning they are unintelligible to most readers. The German soldiers are thus given a voice while the Russians are denied one.
In the end, I found that whatever utility the book has as a historic introduction is trumped by authorial bias and flaws in the book’s structure.
|Page Count||120 pages|
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