This is detailed and exhausting military history.

To call some books a tome does not really do them justice.  This is one of those books.  

David Glantz, a retired Army Colonel who is probably the foremost expert on the Soviet Red Army in the West, has written the first volume of what will probably stand the test of time as the most exhaustive study of this titanic battle ever written.

And I am not just talking about the time it takes to read and truly absorb the truly amazing level of detail Mr. Glantz and his co-author have provided in this book..oh, no, it took me almost 2 years to get through this book, on and off with my other reading efforts as it is truly a labor of love for Mr. Glantz.

Like every book, it has the good, bad, and ugly.

First the good--this book, the first of a four volume trilogy..WHAT, a four volume trilogy yea, you heard me..there is so much going on that it takes four volumes to get through it all.  What Mr. Glantz has accomplished here is the definitive tale of Germany's Operation Blue-the summer 1942 offensive meant to capture the Russian Caucasus oil fields and the city of Stalingrad to bring the Soviet war machine to a halt.  By mining previously unavailable Soviet and German archives, the book offers a truly fresh perspective on this campaign and how the Germans and Soviets fought one of the most titanic battles in history. 

It is nearly incomprehensible to Americans these days to think that nearly 2,000,000 men fought over this city during the course of the entire campaign...that's  almost as big as the current Russian and American armies COMBINED.  

The amount of detail in this book is amazing, and the analysis by Glantz and House is really first rate, it will change how soldiers and historians view those crucial battles and operations that set the stage for the meat grinder of street fighting in Stalingrad.  If you wonder why militaries try to avoid combat in cities, this battle will make you understand.

The bad...well, I have to say I love maps, and this book has plenty of maps...but they are, for the most part unreadable maps.  Glantz has tried to reproduce the actual German operational maps..but they look like really bad photocopies and are practically useless.  For all the awesome work put in this book, a decent cartographer would have been welcome.  The pictures are ok, but they also look like bad photocopies.  The University of Kansas Press...associated with the Army War College---usually produces first rate books...the maps and illustrations in this book were disappointing...hopefully these will be corrected in the succeeding volumes.

The ugly...well, there really isn't any...I mean this book is truly for the SERIOUS grognard, it is not light and fluffy reading...these four volumes weigh in nearly 3000 pages...yup that's right...nearly as many pages as were wasted on Obamacare...and that doesn't even count the end notes and bibliography.  No doubt about it...Glantz is passionate about this subject and no one will produce a study of this battle with his breadth or depth of experience and research...

If you want to learn about the REAL part of World War II...and by that I mean the Eastern Front where the war was really decided, then this is an important book.  Glantz leaves no stone unturned and really sets the stage for the follow-on volumes.

Oh, yea, I am already on volume 2 and it's gonna be epic.  Now the real battle begins...