Beevor, Antony 1946-
BEEVOR, Antony 1946-
PERSONAL: Born December 14, 1946, in London, England; son of John G. and Kinta J. Beevor; married Artemis Cooper, 1988; children: one daughter, one son. Education: Attended secondary school at Winchester College, 1960-64; attended University of Grenoble, 1964-65, and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, 1965-67.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Andrew Nurnberg Associates, Clerkenwell House, 45-47 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0HT, England.
CAREER: Freelance journalist in the Middle East, 1970; worked in London, England, in marketing and advertising, 1971-72, and in marketing and publishing, 1974-75; writer, 1975—; visiting professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, 2002—. Military service: British Army, Royal Hussars, 1965-70; served in Germany; became lieutenant.
MEMBER: Society of Authors (member of management committee), Council of the London Library, Royal Geographical Society (fellow).
AWARDS, HONORS: Runciman Prize, 1992, for Crete: The Battle and the Resistance; Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres, 1997; Samuel Johnson Prize, Wolfson Prize for History, and Hawthornden Prize for Literature, 1999, for Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943; fellow, Royal Society of Literature, 1999; Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge, 2002-2003; Longman-History Today Trustees' Award, 2003.
The Violent Brink (novel), J. Murray (London, England), 1975.
For Reasons of State (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1981.
The Faustian Pact (novel), J. Cape (London, England), 1983.
The Enchantment of Christina von Retzen (novel), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1989.
Inside the British Army, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1990.
Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, J. Murray (London, England), 1991, Westview (Boulder, CO), 1994.
(With wife, Artemis Cooper) Paris after the Liberation, 1946-1949, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.
Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943, Viking (New York, NY), 1998.
The Fall of Berlin, 1945, Viking (New York, NY), 2002, published as Berlin: The Downfall, 1945, Viking (London, England), 2002.
Contributor to No End Save Victory: Perspectives on World War II, edited by Robert Cowley, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001. Contributor to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: Former British Army officer Antony Beevor brings to vivid life the horrors of combat and persecution in books like Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943 and The Fall of Berlin, 1945. In the first work, Beevor examines "the bitterest and most cruel of all twentieth-century battles," according to New Statesman critic Alan Clark. "We all know, or think we know, what happened at Stalingrad," Clark noted. The target was Russia's Caucasian oil field, which Germany's Field Marshal von Paulus was intent on capturing. But the siege came a cropper when von Paulus bungled the first assault. With soldiers on both ends of the conflict at risk, the battle for Stalingrad became more of a tactical exercise waged between the two countries' dictatorial leaders, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Thus "the graveyards of this century are packed with the bodies of men who died to save the 'face' of their commanders," as Clark remarked.
Stalingrad earned critical praise from journalists ranging from Eliot Cohen of Foreign Affairs, who deemed the book "masterly," to Library Journal's Robert Johnson, who called Beevor's work "thoroughly mesmerizing." Gilbert Taylor of Booklist said that by focusing on the doomed soldiers' morale, the author "has composed a history of Stalingrad unlikely to be bettered." The British reading public responded to Stalingrad as well, hoisting the book to the bestseller lists with 60,000 copies sold in hardcover and another 250,000 in paperback.
Beevor followed Stalingrad with The Fall of Berlin, 1945, another account of wartime brutality. Reading this book, stated Boston Herald writer Roger Miller, "is like viewing some enormous, latter-day Heironymous Bosch painting of the human race in total meltdown." The Russian forces, determined to overtake Germany, laid siege to Berlin in a display of brutality matched only by Stalin, who turned a blind eye to the suffering his soldiers inflicted upon the German civilians. (According to Robert Winder, Stalin shared with Hitler "a belief that wanton disdain for other people's lives was a mark of true greatness.") As Winder wrote in New Statesman, "The Red Army went about things in its own unbelievably depraved way: raping the women of Poland and Germany (young, old, nuns, orphans—none was safe), tearing watches, jewels and anything else of value from the land they overran, destroying and burning everything they could not pocket. Rarely has a defeated people been so epically abused."
A Publishers Weekly contributor said that Beevor supplies "overheard quotes from the main players" in The Fall of Berlin, "making the reader an eavesdropper to Hitler and Stalin's orbiter dicta." "But it isn't Beevor's meticulous exposition of military carnage that will startle readers," commented Times critic Richard Morrison. "It's his portrayal of a much more sordid aspect of the Red Army's 'heroic' advance: the ferocious mass rape of two million women." Winder noted Beevor's "coolness and . . . sober lack of sentiment" in recording the atrocities, saying that such emotional distance served the book well. "He wisely does not attempt to compete with his dreadful raw material," concluded Winder, "so his book is a powerful anthology of anguished utterances." What accounted for the Russian troops' apparent ease with which they abused civilians? "There are, as Beevor points out, any number of half-explanations," said Morrison. "The most plausible is that brutality begets brutality. Red Army soldiers were treated deplorably by their own commanders."
The Fall of Berlin was assessed by Newsweek International reporter William Underhill (who used the book's U.K. title, Berlin: The Downfall 1945) as "a dismal view of humanity that could be numbing over 490 pages. But Beevor gives plenty of all-too-human detail to enliven the narrative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 1942-1943, p. 1712.
Boston Herald, May 26, 2002, Roger Miller, "Author Rises to Task with 'Fall of Berlin,'" p. 058.
Contemporary Review, June, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 331.
Economist, April 13, 2002, "Burdens of Victory." Foreign Affairs, November, 1998, Eliot Cohen, review of Stalingrad, p. 148.
Guardian (London, England), January 8, 2000, Nicholas Wroe, "Mini-cab to Stalingrad: My Life in Writing" (author interview), p. 11; April 20, 2002, Michael Burleigh, review of Berlin: The Downfall, 1945, p. 10.
Houston Chronicle, July 19, 1998, Fritz Lanham, "Suffering in Stalingrad," p. 21.
Journal of Military History, January, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 213.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 704; April 1, 2002, review of The Fall of Berlin, 1945, p. 464.
Library Journal, May 15 1998, Robert Johnston, review of Stalingrad, p. 95.
London Review of Books, July 15, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 18.
Marine Corps Gazette, March, 2001, Gordon Keiser, "The Whermacht Slaughtered," p. 76.
New Statesman, May 8, 1998, Alan Clark, review of Stalingrad, p. 47; April 15, 2002, Robert Winder, "Landscape of Despair," p. 49.
Newsweek International, May 20, 2002, William Underhill, "An Act of Blasphemy," p. 41.
New York Review of Books, November 4, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 57.
New York Times, August 26, 1998, Richard Bernstein, review of Stalingrad, p. B7.
Publishers Weekly, June 9, 1998, review of Stalingrad, p. 55; March 11, 2002, review of The Fall of Berlin, 1945, p. 59.
Reference and Research Book News, May, 1999, review of Stalingrad, p. 23.
Spectator, April 6, 1991; May 2, 1998, review of Stalingrad, p. 34.
Sunday Times, June 20, 1999, Cosmo Landesman, "The Ex-Soldier Leading History from the Front," p. N5.
Times (London, England), May 9, 2002, Richard Morrison, "Why Did So Many Russian Soldiers, Having Fought Their Way across Half of Europe, Turn into Violent Gang-Rapists?," p. 7.
Times Literary Supplement, February 4, 1983; April 22, 1983; August 18, 1989; October 23, 1998, Omer Bartov, review of Stalingrad, p. 12.
Wall Street Journal, July 8, 1998, Stuart Ferguson, review of Stalingrad, p. A13.
Antony Beevor Home Page,http://www.antonybeevor.com/ (June 9, 2002).