A magnificent narrative of 1941 and the Battle of Moscow, by some criteria the biggest battle in history, and the Russian ordinary men (and women) who fought it. It was fought over a territory the size of France. It cost the Russians as many casualties as the British lost in the whole of the World War I. And it marked the first strategic defeat the Wehrmacht had suffered in its hitherto unstoppable march across Europe. During the first half of 1941 Moscow and its people were living in a kind of peace in a world of war. In spite of the horrors of Stalinism many ordinary people managed to find their own ways of enjoying themselves, and when war surprised a country unprepared, thanks to Stalin's obduracy, most rose with enthusiasm to defend their country and their city. One of the points of the book is to try and show how people find a kind of normality even in the hardest of circumstances, in peace and in war. On the 22 June the Nazi armies invaded and raced across the country. By the end of the year they were held, finally, in the suburbs of Moscow (as it were on the A4 at Heathrow). Based on huge research and scores of interviews, this book offers an unforgettable and richly illustrated narrative of the military action; telling portraits of Stalin and his generals, some apparatchiks, some great commanders. It also traces the stories of individuals, soldiers, politicians and intellectuals, writers and artists and dancers, workers, schoolchildren and peasants. The war remains a highly emotional matter for Russia and there are troubling questions like the role of Stalin or the appalling cost of victory. The book concludes with reflections on these issues.