Europe Central

  Europe Central covers a number of non-fictional characters on both the Russian and the German sides during WW II, some of them heroic, like an SS officer, Kurt Gerstein, involved in providing the gasses for the mass murdering at the concentration camps but doing all he can to slow it and to get the facts out to the rest of the world, others ambiguous, like Russian General Vlasov, captured and turned by the Germans to command a brigade of Russians against Stalin. General Paulus, who commanded the German Sixth Army and surrendered it at Stalingrad, and who survived and lived in the USSR until he died many years later, is described and analyzed in detail and at length. Dmitri Shostakovich occupies far too great a part of the book.

   This book has great value, but I don't recommend it. It is just too dense, difficult, long, and heavy. Parts pulled me in and fascinated me; others were so far out I had to resort to scanning and skipping. Much of the time you can't tell who is narrating, and you have to work out who it is and whose side he is on. It is as if the fog of war affects the book.