Deemed unfit for service when the Germans invaded in 1941, Vasily Grossman became a special correspondent for Red Star, the Red Army newspaper, observing on the Eastern front with a writer's eye the most pitiless fighting ever known.
Grossman witnessed almost all the major events: the appalling defeats and desperate retreats of 1941, 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 for his mother and other relations were confirmed. A Jew himself, he undertook the faithful recording of Holocaust atrocities as their extent dawned. His supremely powerful report 'The Hell of Treblinka' was used in evidence at the Nuremberg tribunal.
Based on the notebooks in which Grossman gathered his raw material, 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'.
Vasily Grossman was born in 1905 in the Ukrainian town of Berdichev. In 1941, he became a war reporter for the Red Army newspaper, Red Star, and came to be regarded as a legendary war hero, reporting on the defence of Stalingrad, the fall of Berlin and the consequences of the Holocaust. Life and Fate, the masterpiece he completed in 1960, was considered a threat to the totalitarian regime, and Grossman was told that there was no chance of the novel being published for another 200 years. Grossman died in 1964. Antony Beevor first came across the notebooks of Vasily Grossman when working on his boook Stalingrad, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize. He has also written Berlin: The Downfall 1945, which has been translated into twenty-five languages, and most recently, The Mystery of Olga Chekhova. He is currently the chairman of the Society of Authors. Dr Lyubov Vinogradova is 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 ten years on his three most recent books as well as with other British and American historians.