The Lighthouse of Stalingrad sheds new light on this iconic battle through the prism of the two units who fought for the very heart of the city itself. Iain MacGregor traveled to both German and Russian archives to unearth previously unpublished testimonies by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
Carefully researched ... This valuable addition to the body of work about Stalingrad goes a long way toward righting the balance between myth and reality. Mr. MacGregor vividly describes the frantic Soviet efforts to beat back Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus’s Sixth Army as it reached the city ... MacGregor makes a compelling case that [Stalin] had begun to learn from his mistakes.
It’s not often I find myself complaining of a book being too short ... Ordinary soldiers hardly figure in the narrative. This gives a false impression of ordered decision-making that does not do justice to a battle that was, for the most part, chaos. MacGregor’s approach brings to mind the war books once popular among those armchair generals who preferred battles cleansed of blood and dirt ... This book nevertheless improves significantly in the final chapters when the narrative is taken over by a handful of German diarists who left behind achingly personal recollections of defeat ... MacGregor finds Lidin’s words 'poignant.' I find them unnerving ... Unfortunately, the Lighthouse is not mentioned again until page 183, then given only brief attention. MacGregor efficiently demolishes the legend, but gives too little detail.
Splendid ... MacGregor writes with great fluency and narrative drive, and his account of the context to the battle and the complexity of its fraught swings of fortune and misfortune is compellingly terse ... However, MacGregor’s real coup is not so much the exposure of the propaganda-myth of 'Pavlov’s House' but the access he was given to the unpublished letters and memoirs of a German officer who was present at the battle from its inception to its end.