History may not repeat itself...but is sure does cover the same ground.

So, as part of my summer reading program, which, yes, I am starting in April, I have decided to tackle two magisterial and awesome Trilogies--David Glantz' Stalingrad series (actually 4 books, cuz this guy can't write anything less than 800 pages, so Book 3 comes in two parts...like that stinkin' Hunger Games final movie); and Rick Atkinson's Liberation Trilogy.  Now yours truly absolutely GUSHED over the final volume of this series in my awesome NYJB review and made it one of my favorite books of 2013.  So, why read it again?  Well, now that the entire trilogy is completed, I thought it might be interesting to get a perspective on the entire European Theater of War (at least from the Western Allies perspective).

I would, of course, LOVE to have some enterprising historian who speaks Russian and German to write an equivalent trilogy-style narrative on the Eastern Front from 1941-1945...which would no doubt then merge to become the definitive history of the war to defeat Nazi Germany.

BUT, while I wait patiently, I decided to plow ahead and learn more about the most decisive battle of the Russian Campaign--the 11 month struggle on the steppes that began with German offensive of 1942--Operation Blue--intended to sweep through Ukraine and into the Russian Caucasus to capture Russia's oil fields and knock Stalin's Red Army out of the war--and ended with the destruction of Germany's Sixth Army and the stopping of the rising Nazi tide.  Places like Rostov, Kiev, the Dnieper River, and other locations in Russia and the Ukraine figure prominently in this book, just like on CNN and MSDNC, where they have to get out their Sesame Street big book of foreign places to find them on the map.

Speaking of maps, the Royal United Service Institute, a British think tank, has done some substantive work on the whole Russia-Ukraine standoff, including this pretty awesome map showing potential avenues of invasion for Putin's Legions:

Now from a historical point of view, what's interesting to see is the familiarity of the territory to students of the World War II Eastern Front:  Kharkov (Karkiv, if you prefer), Rostov, Sevastapol, Kiev (or Kyiv, whatever)  and...far in the east---Volgograd (or as Putin may so rename it...STALINGRAD)...yes history is a finicky mistress.  The question of course, is how far would the newly reformed Red Army (I mean what else can you call it?!) go into Ukraine?

This is, of course the big question...if Putin just wants to bite off a chunk, maybe he avoids direct conflict in the cities and sweeps around the eastern provinces with the heavy Russian minorities and lets his masked and hooded stormtroopers take over the cities.  Certainly, after their previous experience in Grozny in 1994-1995, the Red Army will not want to fight large numbers of pissed off Ukrainians in the city streets...even Putin doesn't want THAT on YouTube.   OR, maybe just because the West has been shown for the moral and physical cowards that they are (mom jeans and bike helmets do not a decisive President make...I mean seriously, can you see Ronald Reagan wearing mom jeans or a helmet as he rode horses on his ranch?) ....sigh.....but I digress again.

Things are calm for the moment...but Russia still has lots of troops on the border and is continuing to stir up trouble....meanwhile the biggest crisis in Washington is................the phony women's pay scandal and exactly how big a liar Eric Holder is...............and how deep the corruption and Obama worshiping at the IRS is.................and........sadly bacon prices are likely to go up...that is sad....the other issues, sad, but not unexpected from the corrupt, Chicago style DemocRATic government.

It's enough to even make Field Marshal Manstein give up..........