I was recommended this book by a friend at work and so I went out and bought it to see me through a night shift. The book starts by explaining the history of the Crimea region dating back to the 1600’s up to the outbreak of World War II. It explains the tensions between the Tartars, the Bolsheviks and the White and Red Russians.


The Crimea has been a hotbed for conflict the past 400 years and this continues to the present day. The book however centres on the period of 1941-44 and the tussle between German and Russian forces in those few years where Armies were destroyed. Initially the destruction of the Russians and then subsequently the German occupation forces during the Red Army counter attack.

It is an in depth book that certainly is not designed to keep one awake during a long night shift. It is wrote from the strategic level and doesn’t drop down to instances of combat or the tales from the soldiers who took part in the conflict which makes it decidedly dry to read.

However, as a resource to learn about the history of the region it is perfect. I find the Russian leadership and commanders names a bit of a game changer in this book making it a battle in itself to even try and pronounce which causes you to basically skip or not take in fully who was doing what and when.

I wouldn’t say this is a casual read and it is designed solely for those with an interest into the geopolitical nuances of the region. I would recommend it for that but for me personally it felt like wading through quick sand. I gave up halfway through.

I was looking for a book to drag me away from the Normandy landings for a while as I have exhausted my reading which tended to be based around Operation Overlord and Market Garden…. there is only so many times you can visit these operations before the books get repetitive but Where The Iron Crosses Grow has failed to captivate me the way the likes of Stephen Ambroses books on D-Day or the like have.

I think a change of conflict is required but I’m unsure whether to go pre or post WW2. As the 200th anniversary of Waterloo comes around now might be the time to step into one of them books or perhaps some reading on Korea or Nam is in the offing.

All recommendations are gratefully accepted.

Thanks for reading.

  1. Thank you for the review. My own interests involve the strategic level. I will look for this one.

    For another on WWII, Western Theater, may I suggest MacDonald’s A Time for Trumpets about the Battle of the Bulge / Ardennes Offensive. It ranges from the strategic to operational to the men in the snow.

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