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On the Precipice
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Exhaustive knowledge of Soviet life, politics and censorship, including the phraseology in which Communist statesmen were allowed to narrate their biographical events, gave Peter Mezhiritskiy sharp tools for the analysis of Zhukov's memoirs. The reader will learn about the abundance of awkward events that strangely and fortuitously occurred in good time for Stalin's rise to power, about the hidden connection between the purges, the Munich appeasement and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, and about the real reason why it took so long to liquidate Paulus' Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Mezhiritskiy presents a clear picture of the purges which promoted incompetent and poorly educated commanders to higher levels of command, leaving the Soviet Union poorly prepared for a war against the Wehrmacht military machine, and offers alternative explanations for many prewar and wartime events. The second part of the book is dedicated to the course of the Great Patriotic War, much of which is still little known to the vast majority of Western readers. While not fully justifying Zhukov's actions, Mezhiritskiy also reveals the main reason for the bloody strategy chosen by Zhukov and the General Staff in the defensive period of the War. In general, he shares and argues Marshal Vasilevsky's conviction that if there had been no purges, the war would not have occurred. On the Precipice became widely known to the Russian-reading public on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the last ten years its quotations have been used as an essential argument in almost all the debates about the World War II.
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About the Author

Author Peter Mezhiritskiy belongs to the so-called Shestidesyatniki -"the 60s generation" - Soviets born between 1925 and 1945 who resisted the Communist Party's cultural and ideological restrictions in adulthood. As children, they'd been fully convinced in the ideals of communism, only to be disillusioned by knowledge of the widespread repressions as they matured. Many of this generation became noted writers. Mezhiritskiy obtained a Master's Degree in Engineering, but quickly understood the phantom essence of the socialist economy and started sharing his views by writing. His first novel was a complete success, being translated into Polish and made into a movie by Belarusfilm. In 1979, forced by the growing impositions of Soviet censorship, Mezhiritskiy emigrated to the United States, where he kept working as an engineer while continuing to write books. His Russian-language books "Longing for London" and "Reading Marshal Zhukov" (published in 1994 and 1995 respectively) were dedicated to the consequences of Stalinism. The novel "On the threshold of immortality" (2006) was dedicated to the patriarchs Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. He is the author of many short stories, essays and articles, which have been published in the United States, Germany, Israel, Russia and the Ukraine. He lives in San Diego, CA. / Stuart Britton is a freelance translator and editor residing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He has been responsible for making a growing number of Russian titles available to readers of the English language, consisting primarily of memoirs by Red Army veterans and recent historical research concerning the Eastern Front of the Second World War and Soviet air operations in the Korean War. Notable recent titles include Boris Gorbachevsky's 'Through the Maelstrom: A Red Army Soldier's War on the Eastern Front 1942-45' (University Press of Kansas, 2008) and Yuri Sutiagin's and Igor Seidov's 'MiG Menace Over Korea: The Story of Soviet Fighter Ace Nikolai Sutiagin' (Pen & Sword Aviation, 2009). Future books will include Lev Lopukhovsky's detailed study of the Soviet disaster at Viazma in 1941, Svetlana Gerasimova's analysis of the prolonged and savage fighting against Army Group Center in 1942-43 to liberate the city of Rzhev, and more of Igor Seidov's studies of the Soviet side of the air war in Korea, 1951-1953.

Reviews

The strongest point of the book being discussed here is that Mezhiritsky combines the skills of a professional historian, the patience of an archivist, and the passion of someone for whom the years 1941-1945 are part of his life. The author of captivating fiction, he knows how to make his writing accessible to professionals and the lay public alike. He often interrupts the exposition by digressions, asides, and personal recollections, so that the reader becomes a participant in the unfolding tragedy. This is indeed an academic book with a human face. * Anatoly Liberman, Professor of Germanic and Slavic at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus *

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