Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Bear Went Over The Mountain by Lester W Grau

This book
is based around a series of interviews conducted by the Soviet Staff
College
after the war was over. Once the Cold War ended and we got to
sharing our country gained access to this stuff. Basically this book is
a series of vignettes based upon interviews with Russian Officers (by
their rank structure and where the interviews took place it was to my
memory only O's). These are categorized into chapters by category:
raids, ambushes, defense, etc. Onto the usual format.

The Good: These interviews were probably not originally meant for
distribution outside their organization so they are brutally honest.
Also they are primarily written by Company level officers on the ground.
Leaders talking about what they did. I found some vignettes particularly
interesting. Here is a big hint.

The themes of not conducting reconnaissance and failure to control the
high ground being harshly punished were repeated to the point of boring
monotony. Repetitive use of the same routes and overly relaxed security
not surprisingly tend to cause problems. Soviets tended to telegraph
their movements and operations losing all surprise. As a tactical leader
I got a lot from this book.

The Bad: The maps were poorly written and badly copied. Almost to the
point where they were not useful. Some vignettes were quite repetitive
and boring. In general the book is very dry and redundant. Also I really
don't care the MAJ Shmetlap Ruskie was awarded the order of the Silver
Commie or whatever.

The Ugly: This is just an extension of the bad. I read it cover to cover
but would probably have been better off if I skipped the lame vignettes
as typically I knew halfway through that they were uninteresting and
unenlightening.

Final Assessment: If you are interested in the Soviet War in
Afghanistan
, Afghanistan, Guerilla Operations, COIN/ Stability/ Counter
Guerilla operations I suggest reading this book. If you are a leader who
may get involved in these sort of operations I strongly suggest you read
this book. It is available here and there on hard copy though the price
is kinda cheap. You can get it a lot cheaper online which I would
personally suggest. You will likely enjoy reading it but don't need to
drop $30 for an out of print book.

Personally I borrowed a co workers. I also saw another blog (can't
remember who) that had a link to download the PDF from the Tribal
Analysis Center. I could not find this book there but did find The Other
Side of the Mountain
on PDF. Interesting note, PDF's work on Kindles
with the only issue being you can't zoom the text. The rest is however
another post all together.

2 comments:

Arsenius the Hermit said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I still have a bunch of those old green covered D.I.A. books on the Russians, the Cubans, The Warsaw Pact, and everybody else we used to worry about in the 1970's and 1980's. They had good color plates in them of uniforms and gear, if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear the perspective senior officers. Bet they'd be totally different. I'd also like to hear what enlisted had to say. Ask enlisted from Vietnam what wethought versus junior and senior officers. As a lowly e-4 I thought the problem was the lack of a desire to WIN a war and to carry the fight to the enemy on the ground.

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