Stalin’s General

Stalin’s General: The Life of Georgy Zhukov by Geoffrey Roberts

This is a biography of Marshal Zhukov, one of the leading Red Army generals of the Second World War. It seemed well research, authoritative, and quite readable.

It didn’t add much to my knowledge of the war and didn’t shed much light on the purges. This is not a reflection on the book; Zhukov obviously wasn’t senior enough in the purges to be seriously troubled, and I’ve read a lot about the progress of the war. It made me wonder if I should read some of the memoirs from the war, obviously the author had made a significant study of these. He also made some interesting points. Eg when Zhukov was writing (in the 60s/70s) he had access to material that was inaccessible to others at the time.

I found interesting the parts Zhukov’s post-war career. This includes his demotion by Stalin, as well as his reinstatement and then significant demotion both by Khrushchev. This despite Zhukov’s playing an important role in supporting the latter. It did talk about Soviet politics in the past Stalin era, which was interesting. Finally, it gave some coverage as to why Zhukov seems so important, it’s not that he was so brilliant, but that he fits the ideal of a military man for the Soviets, post Soviet Russia, and the west.

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