Besieged: The Epic Battle for Cholm
Contributor: Dan K.
Review Date: 30 Oct 2012
Here is Jason Mark's latest book and let me put it into one word, wow! Once again he has put great research and time to produce another excellent book.
This book is on the Soviet encirclement of German forces in the city of Cholm. What make this book really come to life are the photographs. Early on in the encirclement a photographer was brought in and from his photos one can put faces to names and really see the story come to life. Photos of some of the weapons in use, soldiers after action, and medal parades are all there.
There are only 5 chapters but each chapter covers a certain month that the encirclement was in place. There are also 7 appendices that have what the gliders brought in, officer biographies, units involved, etc.
The book begins with the Soviet offensive that cuts off the city. Units in the city and those that can be immediately brought in through the fragile Soviet lines and how the city commander has to mold these units into a fighting force. Everybody from old soldiers that were on garrison duty, drivers, and even some SS soldiers were directed there. The commander of the German forces in the city, General Scherer, wins the Knights Cross for his leadership during the encirclement.
With the maps in the book, you can follow along as certain portions of the city are taken by Soviet forces during their many assaults with artillery, tanks and troops. You also get the feel of the situation as you read the radio transcripts with the general constantly asking for anti-tank guns, ammunition, troops, air support, etc. The gliders that arrived (all 80 of them) have their cargo loads listed so you know when guns or troops arrive. The glider pilots even end up on the front line or on patrols due to the man power shortage.
There are 542 pages before the bibliography and the last photo of the book shows the city with all the gliders and planes that were in the city.
There are some Soviet source descriptions in the book and it would have been good to see the more of the Soviet side but this in no way detracts from the book.
My one and only issue was the small font but I do understand that with this much info on this certain battle a larger font would of made the book huge.
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