A Writer at War

Vasily Grossman with the Red Army

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Edited and translated from the Russian by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova Knopf Canada is proud to present a masterpiece of the Second World War, never before published in English, from one of the great Russian writers of the 20th century – a vivid eyewitness account of the Eastern Front and “the ruthless truth of war.”

When the Germans invaded Russia in 1941, Vasily Grossman became a special correspondent for the Red Star, the Red Army’s newspaper. A Writer at War – based on the notebooks in which Grossman gathered raw material for his articles – depicts the crushing conditions on the Eastern Front, and the lives and deaths of soldiers and civilians alike. It also includes some of the earliest reportage on the Holocaust. In the three years he spent on assignment, Grossman witnessed some of the most savage fighting of the war: the appalling defeats of the Red Army, the brutal street fighting in Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk (the largest tank engagement in history), the defense of Moscow, the battles in Ukraine and much more.

Historian Antony Beevor has taken Grossman’s raw notebooks, and fashioned them into a narrative providing one of the most even-handed descriptions – at once unflinching and sensitive – we have ever had of what he called “the ruthless truth of war.”

From the Hardcover edition.


“Excellent…Grossman, like Isaac Babel twenty years before him, lifts war correspondence to new heights.”
Literary Review

“Grossman was able to gain access to the inner worlds both of officers and soldiers, and he had the eye for the telling image that you would expect from a great novelist…. But for those of us only reluctantly thrilled by accounts of battles, the greater interests lie in his precise reports of the wreckage and ironies of war and in the changes in the inner world of the witness himself…. [He] was above all a clear-eyed and generous witness to the human cost of war, civilians and soldiers of both sides, the lost women and broken men; in the very highest order of journalistic achievement, he was as alert to the victims as much as to the heroes his audience was required to read about.”
Daily Telegraph

“Grossman had an eye for detail and the material assembled here, so colourful and sharp, helps us to understand both the writer and the war he was attempting to describe…. In bringing his notebooks to a wider audience, and in reminding us about this brilliant witness, Beevor and Vinogradova have done their readers - and Grossman’s memory – a great service.”
The Independent

“Grossman’s evocation of the chaos of major retreats and advances is especially vivid…. By writing about the Shoah, Grossman showed both moral integrity and extraordinary courage of imagination.... A Writer at War is impeccably edited, the commentary as informative as it is inobtrusive.”
Financial Times

“A remarkable addition to the literature of 1941-45… A wonderful portrait of the wartime experience of Russia, whose people the author loved so much and felt for so deeply… Beevor and Vinogradova’s collection of his writings forms a worthy memorial to a remarkable man.”
Sunday Telegraph

From the Hardcover edition.