Stalingrad (book)

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AuthorAntony Beevor
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectMilitary history
PublisherViking Press, Penguin Books
Publication date
6 May 1999
ISBN0-14-024985-0 (Paperback)

Stalingrad is a narrative history written by Antony Beevor of the battle fought in and around the city of Stalingrad during World War II, as well as the events leading up to it. It was first published by Viking Press in 1998.

The book won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999.


The book starts with Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the subsequent drive into the Soviet Union. Its main focus is the Battle of Stalingrad, in particular the period from the initial German attack to Operation Uranus and the Soviet victory. It details the subsequent battles and war crimes committed by both sides. The book ends with the defeat and surrender of the Germans in February 1943 and the beginning of the Soviet advance on Germany. Beevor returned to the subject with his 2002 book Berlin: The Downfall 1945.


Stalingrad was published in the Philippines under the title of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-43, and has been translated into 18 languages. The English paperback version was published by Penguin Books in 1999.


Keith Lowe, writing in The Telegraph, notes that Stalingrad transformed both Beevor's reputation and that of military history, making it from something only for "retired colonels and armchair fantasists" into a "sleek, attention-grabbing subject" always on the bestseller lists.[1] Lowe argues that "What made [Stalingrad] so refreshing was the way that he combined academic rigour with a storyteller’s sensibility. While he always kept a grip on the view of the battle from above, his true skill was in describing the way it looked from below, from the point of view of the ordinary soldiers", with pacing and sense of character providing almost the readability of a novel.[1]

Richard Bernstein, in The New York Times, writes that "the colossal scale of Stalingrad, the megalomania, the utter absurdity, the sheer magnitude of the carnage in what many military historians see as the turning point in the war, are marvelously captured".[2] He concludes that Stalingrad is "a fantastic and sobering story, and it has been fully and authoritatively told in Mr. Beevor's book."[2]


Stalingrad won the first Samuel Johnson Prize,[3] the Wolfson History Prize[4] and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999.[5]

Ban of Russian Translation in Ukraine[edit]

The book came out in Russian in two translations:

  • Бивор, Энтони. Сталинград. / [пер. с англ. А. Жеребилова [и др.]] — Смоленск: Русич, 1999. — 445 с. — ISBN 5-8138-0056-5
  • Бивор, Энтони. Сталинград. / [пер. с англ. С. Саксина] — Москва: КоЛибри; Москва: Азбука-Аттикус, 2015. — 605 с. — ISBN 978-5-389-07862-8

While the first translation was "flawed" according to Beevor, the second translation of 2015 was banned in Ukraine.[6] The author was reportedly "dumbfounded" at a decision by Ukrainian authorities to ban the import of 30,000 copies of the new Russian translation of his book.[6]

However, the Ukrainian authorities and experts pointed out at least one critical mistranslation in the Russian publication regarding the 1941 Bila Tserkva massacre: "Ukrainian militiamen" were changed to "Ukrainian nationalists"[nb 1] even though it was translated correctly in older publications:[6][7]

Оriginal Old translation (1999) New translation (2015)
English The ninety Jewish children were shot the next evening by Ukrainian militiamen, to save the feelings of the Sonderkommando. The atrocity was committed by Ukrainian militiamen, since the command decided to "save the feelings" of German soldiers. On the following day, the children were shot by Ukrainian nationalists, to "save the feelings" of the Sonderkommando soldiers.
Russian translation N/A Акцию совершили украинские полицаи, так как начальство решило «поберечь чувства» немецких солдат. На следующий день детей расстреляли украинские националисты, чтобы «поберечь чувства» солдат зондеркоманд.

In another instance, the original English text refers to "two police battalions" having participated in the massacre at Babi Yar, but the new translation refers to "two battalions of Ukrainian nationalists".[nb 1] The Ukrainian translator Steve Komarnyckyj pointed out that the text might have been "manipulated with political intent".[8]

The ban was due to the Ukrainian Law No. 1780-19, which took effect in early 2017. It introduced amendments to legislation aimed at "restricting access to the Ukrainian market of foreign printed material with anti-Ukrainian content". The law imposes a permit system for import of printed material from an aggressor state (as of January 2018, that applied only to Russia) or from occupied Ukrainian territories.[9]


  1. ^ a b In the context of World War II, "Ukrainian nationalists" usually means participants and supporters of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) or Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).


  1. ^ a b Lowe, Keith (25 July 2002). "In praise of Antony Beevor". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (26 August 1998). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; An Avalanche of Death That Redirected a War: Stalingrad". New York Times. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  3. ^ "The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction: Stalingrad (Penguin) By Antony Beevor". The Samuel Johnson Prize. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Previous winners (1999)". Wolfson Foundation. Archived from the original on 7 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Writer of the month: Stalingrad and Berlin – researching the reality of war". The National Archives. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b c O'Connor, Coilin; Heil, Andy (17 January 2018). "Historian Beevor 'Astonished' At Ukraine Ban On Best-Selling 'Stalingrad'". RFE/RL. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  7. ^ Грабовський, Сергій (19 January 2018). ""Сталінград" Бівора: російська провокація й українські "експерти"". RFE/RL (in Ukrainian, Russian, and English). Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (19 January 2018). "Stalingrad author Anthony[sic] Beevor speaks out over Ukraine book ban". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  9. ^ Coynash, Halya. "Ukraine imposes baffling ban on work by renowned English historian & others". Human Rights in Ukraine. The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. Retrieved 2 February 2018.

External links[edit]