Books: Witness to Yesterday



Translated by MICHAEL GLENNY

622 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


When the 1914 war with Germany broke out, Czarist Russia was unprepared. Yet she instantly sent two armies into East Prussia. Both were ill-equipped, underfed and hampered from headquarters by more than the usual complement of careerist nitwits, blockheaded aristocrats and plain cowards familiar in the literature of military debacle. In the resulting battle, the Russian Second Army, lumbering westward in the vicinity of Tannenberg, was enveloped by the Germans. More than 90,000 prisoners were taken. In a...

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