Ok, disclaimer, I am a huge fan of Mr ZALOGA, but will be impartial in this review.
Accounts of history’s greatest conflicts, detailing the command strategies, tactics and battle experiences of the opposing forces throughout the crucial stages of each campaign.
They feature full colour battlescenes, illustrations, 3-dimensional ‘bird’s-eye-views’, and maps. This particular issue promises to “examine the roots and outcomes of this conflict in Europe’s Eastern Borderlands, and documents how and why the Red Army was defeated by the ‘miracle on the Vistula”.*
The book is a weekend read at a scant 96 pages, but they are packed with information that demands attention, with the myriad of names, places, and dates to follow. I struggled with the names, not being fluent in either Polish or Russian. Once I’d adapted, the book is a quick read that flows well, as you’d expect from such a prodigious author.
Inside, the contents are listed as:
Origins of the campaign page 4
Opposing Commanders 17
Opposing forces 23
Red Army, Polish Army, Ukrainian Army
Opposing Plans 36
The Campaign 40
Opening moves – The Kiev operation – The First Belarus offensive – Attack of the First Horse Army – The main Red Army offensive in Belarus – Political repercussions – Slowing the Bolshevik advance – Fumbling the endgame – Battles along the Warsaw Bridgehead – Pilsudski’s counter-attack – the Battle of Zamosc Ring – Final battles
Further Reading 93
There are numerous maps, charts, tables, and colour plates throughout the book that assist in explaining or illustrating the narrative, which moves at a quick pace. I did find it easier to flick between text and table to understand the situation on the ground, what was happening, and where things were heading.
Something of particular interest were the quantity and quality of photographs included, covering some of the various personalities, armoured cars used, some colour images of subjects that were used in the conflict, and even a few of aircraft from both sides! Most good.
There is some very good analysis of both side’s strategies and tactics, without getting bogged down in the detail or operations. At under 100 pages, there is no room for that, and there is further reading available if that is required. The book goes into, but does not dwell on, the politics behind the conflict, and itemizes Russia’s blunders, whilst highlighting the Poles effort to beat a superior foe. There are winners and losers, and a multitude of forces in between, all of which are identified and explained in concise fashion. Pay attention to the names and various factions, as it does get quite complex in parts, who was fighting whom, when, and where.
In summary, this is a very good, concise, and easy to read account of the Bolshevik effort to ignite a communist revolution in the heart of Europe, stopped in its tracks at Poland. Definitely recommended as a weekend read, or “introduction to the Eighteenth Decisive Battle of the World”, Lord Edgar Vincent D’Abernon, London 1920.
*To summarise the book in a sentence, Russia outnumbered the Poles, who proved to be a canny adversary, but lacked the coordination to be effective, thanks to two things: Russian purges, and Polish radio signal intercepts, which
enabled the Poles the “pull one out of the hat”, as it were.