The central part of the Russian campaign of 1916, the Brusilov offensive, is fairly well covered in English language histories of the war, but largely in isolation. It is sometimes connected to the unsuccessful attacks elsewhere on the Russian front, but rarely to the wider military, political or social background in Russia.
This book fills that gap. The Russian army of 1916 was largely shaped by the political establishment at St Petersburg, where Tsar Nicholas II had taken over as commander in chief. We examine the abilities of his war minister and other senior appointees, and the problems that came from having the Tsar in control of senior appointments (this especially affected the elite Guards units, commanded by one of the Tsar's appointees, and subjected to ineffective and outdated training as a result). The book draws us into the world of Tsarist Russia, and its dysfunctional army, putting it in the top rank of books of its type. The almost as dysfunctional relationship between the Germans and Austro-Hungarians is also covered.
The fighting itself is covered in some detail, allowing us to understand the reasons for Brusilov's unexpected successes, and the reasons that his advance eventually came to a halt. The attack failed to live up to its early promise, and cost the Russian army a vast number of casualties. It also tempted the Romanians to enter the war, a disaster for all involved. The text is supported by a good selection of maps, which help illustrate the progress of the campaign in largely unfamiliar areas. Overall this is an excellent book which really brings this part of the First World War to life.
1 - The Fruits of War: The Occupied Territories and the Opposing Armies
2 - The Winter Battles
3 - Lake Naroch
4 - The Quiet Front
5 - Brusilov's Offensive Begins
6 - The Growing Crisis
7 - Dealing with Success and Failure
8 - Now or Never
9 - Kovel and Stanislau
10 - The Advent of Romania
11 - The New Front: Romania's Gamble
12 - Autumn
13 - Bucharest and Beyond
14 - The Cracks in the Edifice
Author: Prit Buttar