Stalingrad: A Legend at 75

On February 2, 1943, an entire German army surrendered to the Soviet Union at Stalingrad, marking the greatest military defeat the Nazis had suffered to date.

The Battle of Stalingrad was a defining moment of World War II. It stands almost apart from the war as a legend unto itself, like Pearl Harbor or D-Day. It dealt a critical blow to the myth of Nazi superiority, was a turning point in the war and the foundation for a national legend.

If people in the West know anything about the Soviet-German clash during WWII, it is likely through the story of this battle. It was perhaps the bloodiest of the twentieth century, costing the lives of over two million soldiers and civilians in the span of five months. Seventy-five years later, so much legend has been wrapped around the story that it often obscures the facts in favour of simple narrative. Here is a look at the meaning of both the battle and the legend, and some overlooked facts about Stalingrad.

Soviet Propaganda Art in Wartime


Amazingly, this famous wartime poster was almost completely unseen until 2000 because the government feared it seemed patronizing

This is my last post of the year as I put this site into a holiday hiatus as I prepare for my book launch. It’s also one of my favourite posts to write!

Before the popularization of the term “fake news,” we probably most associated the word propaganda with the insidious designs of Nazi Information Minister Josef Goebbels. He was famously, and perhaps wrongly, thought to have said: “If you repeat a lie a thousand times it becomes a truth.”

But propaganda was more than just a weapon in the Nazi arsenal. Propaganda was used by all sides during World War II. And it didn’t just involve censoring or altering the facts. Propaganda also involved visual art. While posters could inform, warning that “loose lips sink ships,” or deceive, by demonizing the enemy, propaganda art’s greatest power lay in evoking emotional responses. We might associate Allied propaganda with minimalist efforts such as the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. However, the Soviet Union treated propaganda as a true art form.

[editor’s note: This is the start of a tweak to my website’s format. I separated most blog items into Bookish and Historical. This allows for more straight up discussion of history, of which this is the first post. This way, I can take advantage of all the research I’m doing for the Aelita’s War books. There are also no more “Stray Thoughts” allowed on this site!]

The Anti-Christmas Kids’ Reading List

Excuse the clickbait-y title. This is not a list of books against Christmas. Or book recommendations for kids who hate Christmas.

I’m no Bad Santa. In fact, I just finished a Christmas-themed reading list post. It’s just that ’tis the season, in North America at least, when we get inundated with so much of it, sometimes it’s nice to focus on books for the holiday season that aren’t Christmas-y.

The origin of this anti-Christmas kids’ list comes from me wanting to introduce my kids to concepts outside of Christmas. This isn’t motivated by some cultural altruism. I mainly want them bugging me less for presents! But in searching for good winter holiday kids’ books that aren’t about Christmas, I did end up finding diverse writing that taps into cultural traditions outside of the Christmas norm. In keeping with this blog, I chose ones that have an emphasis on history.

I haven’t read any of these books but I’ll definitely be searching them out for my own kids, especially as they get older. I look forward to being ignored as they clamour for the latest Lego set.

If you’ve read these books or have your own recommendations, please let everyone know in the comments!


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