A Writer At War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945

“In bringing his notebooks to a wider audience, and in reminding us about this brilliant witness, Beevor and Vinogradova have done their readers – and Grossman’s memory – a great service” Catherine Merridale in the Independent
Buy now on Amazon

Vasily Grossman’s masterpiece Life and Fate is rated by many critics as the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century. A Writer at War is based on the notebooks in which he gathered his raw material. It depicts as never before the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front and the lives and deaths of infantrymen, tank drivers, pilots, snipers and civilians alike.

Deemed unfit for service when the Germans invaded in 1941, Grossman became a special correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army newspaper. A portly novelist in his mid-thirties with no military experience, he was given a uniform and hastily taught to shoot a pistol. Remarkably, he spent three of the following four years at the front observing with a writer’s eye the most pitiless fighting ever known.

Red Army soldiers came to love this awkward intellectual for his physical courage and for the honesty of his reporting. He won huge fame for his novel  The People Immortal. Grossman witnessed almost all the major events on the Eastern Front: the appalling defeats and desperate retreats of 1941 when more than 3 million men were captured, the defence of Moscow and fighting in the Ukraine.

In August 1942 he was posted to Stalingrad where he remained during four months of brutal street-fighting. He was present at the battle of Kursk, the largest tank engagement in history, and, as the Red Army advanced, he reached Berdichev where his worst fears about his mother and other relations were confirmed.

A Jew himself, he undertook the faithful recording of Holocaust atrocities in the Ukraine, at Odessa and Majdanek as their extent dawned. His supremely powerful report ‘The Hell of Treblinka’ was quoted at the Nuremberg tribunal.

A Writer at War offers the one outstanding eye-witness account of the war on the Eastern Front and perhaps the best descriptions ever of what Grossman called ‘the ruthless truth of war’.

Antony Beevor first came across the notebooks of Vasily Grossmen when working on his book Stalingrad.   

Dr Lyubov Vinogradova, a researcher, translator and freelance journalist, studied biology at university in Moscow, as well as taking degrees in English and German. She received a PhD in microbiology in 2000. She has worked with Antony Beevor for the last fourteen years as well as with other British and American historians.

Read Less
“No other journalist wrote with the same regard for what Grossman called the “ruthless truth of war”... Coleridge once defined imagination as “the power to disimprison the soul of fact”; Grossman had this power to the highest degree. A Writer at War is impeccably edited, the commentary as informative as it is unobtrusive” Robert Chandler in the Financial Times
“Grossman’s notebooks, which furnished much of the material for his novel, have now been edited and translated into English as A Writer at War by the two persons most qualified to do so: Antony Beevor, as a military historian; and Lyuba Vinogradova, as a Russian researcher able to open doors closed to less persuasive questers... The extracts are linked by the editors with succinct narratives that make it easy to orient oneself in the history of the war. Grossman, like Isaac Babel twenty years before him, lifts war correspondence to new heights” Donald Rayfield in The Literary Review
Read More
UK Harvill Secker
USA Pantheon
Canada Knopf
Germany Bertelsmann
France Calmann-Levy
Norway Cappeln-Damm
Japan Hakusui-Sha
Holland Balans
Sweden Historiska Media
Israel Yavneh
Finland Werner Soderstrom Osakeyhtio
Denmark Lindhardt & Ringhof
Spain Editorial Crítica
Czech Republic Beta-Dobrovský & Sevcik
Latvia Atena
Greece Govostis Publishing
Poland Twoj Styl
China Central Compilation and Translation Press, Beijing
Hungary Gold
Portugal Edições 70
Italy Adelphi, Milan
Turkey Can Yayinlari