Summary Of The Battle Of Stalingrad

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The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the single most critical and certainly one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, is a great setting for a historical fiction story. His story centers on a duel to the death between two men: Chief Master Sgt. Vasily Zaitsev, sniper, one of the best of the Russian army, and a German SS colonel named Heinz Thorvald, the Nazis' greatest marksman. When Russian snipers led by Zaitsev begin to take a demoralizing toll of German troops, picking them off like hunters shooting bears, the high command in Berlin dispatches Thorvald to the battlefield with orders to accomplish a single task: kill Zaitsev. A deadly contest ensues, with Robbins skillfully building up each of his protagonists as so deadly in their murderous crafts as to make them feared as a person and well liked as a reader. It is not David versus Goliath, but Hercules versus Zeus, the manly conflict of two equally matched and equally remorseless adversaries. The story moreover is based, Robbins writes in the introduction, on two real historical figures, though it is unclear whether the real Zaitsev and Thorvald engaged in the kind of duel described in "War of the Rats." Robbins opens with a German lieutenant named Hofstetter who makes the mistake of tilting his head back to drink from a canteen and is dropped by a single shot from a distant rifle. We then meet his killer, the Russian Zaitsev, who, before World War II was a hunter on the Siberian taiga, instructed by his grandfather in the almost mystical and intuition-filled techniques of stalking. ("God is about fear, a way to make you afraid and obey," the old man told him. "The man of the forest is without fear.”) Zaitsev is called into the dirt-floored bunker of his commanding officer one day and ordered to train a team of snipers. The reason for keeping the enemy tied down in Stalingrad, however, is easy to know. The Germans have to be kept against the Volga River until the gigantic pincers movement that will eventually defeat them can be mounted. Zaitsev and his partner, big Viktor Medvedev, draw together their team of sharpshooters. This includes one beautiful woman of unusual provenance, a certain Tania Chernova who, Robbins tells us in his introduction, was
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