A gripping and authoritative revisionist account of the Soviet Winter Offensive of 1941-1942 Germany's winter campaign of 1941-1942 has commonly been seen as its "first defeat." In Retreat from Moscow, David Stahel argues that, in fact, it may have been one of its first true successes. Far from a self-evident triumph, the Soviet counteroffensive was a Pyrrhic victory. Though the Red Army managed to push the Wermacht back from Moscow, the Germans lost fewer men, frustrated their enemy's strategic plan, and emerged in the spring unbroken and poised to recapture the initiative. By the beginning of December 1941, conditions at the front were desperate. Ground mattered far less than resources, which neither regime seemed to grasp. Obsessed with prestige, blinded by ideology, and enabled by uncritical high commands, Hitler and Stalin would order positions to be seized or defended "at any cost." As Stahel reveals, Hitler's famed "halt order," far from being the critical solution that hardened the Germans and prevented wild retreat, was a military disaster that breeded resentment and undermined command structures. Likewise, the Red Army's initial success may have been their downfall. Lacking the professionalism, training, and experience of the Wermacht, the Red Army mounted an offensive that quickly proved disastrous. Through journals, memoirs, and wartime correspondence, Stahel takes us into the Wolf's Lair and reveals a German command at war with itself, as generals on the ground battle to maintain order and save their troops while Hitler's capricious directives become all the more irrational. And through soldiers' diaries and letters home, he paints a rich portrait of life and death on the front, where the men of the Ostheer fight against frostbite as much as they do Soviet artillery. Continuing his pathbreaking series on the Eastern Front, David Stahel's Retreat from Moscow is military history of the highest order.