The 900 Days by Harrison E. Salisbury

The 900 Days

The Nazi siege of Leningrad from 1941 to 1944 was one of the most gruesome battles of World War II. Nearly three million people endured it; just under half of them died. For twenty-five years the distinguished journalist and historian Harrison Salisbury pieced together this remarkable narrative of villainy and survival, in which the city had much to fear-from both Hitler and Stalin.

Details The 900 Days

TitleThe 900 Days
Release DateSep 18th, 2003
PublisherDa Capo Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Cultural, Russia, War, World War II

Reviews The 900 Days

  • Brian
    In a global event of such horrific superlatives as WWII it is almost criminal that the Siege of Leningrad isn’t discussed more frequently, or at least recognized more readily for the terror it was. And it isn’t just a matter of reciting statistics to put someone in a place of awe – although those numbers speak loudly, for sure. Certainly a large part of the blame can be placed on the former Soviet Union and their insistence of altering fact...
  • Thomas
    I read this book before going to Russia, on a river cruise, Moscow to St. Petersburg. My experience there:A word about safety. Irina warned us about pickpockets at the Kremlin. Moscow, SPB and some Baltic cities have pedestrian tunnels at some intersections. You have to use these tunnels to cross the street. On the last day in SPB, I asked a guide, Marina,, on how to get to a sign on Nevski Prospekt from the WWII **** blockade of Leningrad(Mentio...
  • LeAnne: GeezerMom
    Fascinating, dark details of the siege. Factual accounts of dogs turned into living anti-tank bombs, people eating cups of molasses-saturated dirt or chewing the glued bindings on books, cannibalism, and more - we American civilians know nothing of war. A book of horrors.While we readers have had ample access to stories about the holocaust and what befell Jewish citizens, Romas, and political prisoners, until I read a wonderful work of fiction ca...
  • Michael Rubin
    I read this book while on a trip with some college buddies in California. I had to read this book over the trip for school. In the sunny summer of the west coast, on the streets of santa cruz and san francisco I sat in the back seat of a car, crushed by luggage and read this book. It blew my mind. I understand the horrors the Americans and the French and the Jews withstood in WWII. But the siege was a whole new chapter of the war I was unaware of...
  • Mikey B.
    An intense examination of the siege of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1941-42. Most of the book is concerned with the German invasion in June 1941 and takes us to the disastrous winter of 1941-42 when possibly over 600,000 Leningraders died of deliberate starvation from the German siege. The city understandably was in such disarray during this time that we will never know the exact number of deaths – and how many died of residual effects aft...
  • Christie
    This is my 2nd read on the Eastern front but my first on Leningrad. While the book was quite lengthy, there was a lot to be told about the days leading up to the siege and the 900 days that followed. It was very heartbreaking to read in many places as the conditions that the residents of Leningrad endured during that time were horrendous. Overall, a very thorough account of the generals who led the charge to finally break the blockade and the cha...
  • Evan
    This is one of my favorite nonfiction books, an overwhelming, endlessly fascinating account of an epochal, monumental event of World War II, including the preliminary actions of Hitler and Stalin and the initial invasions of eastern Europe that led to the siege. If you ever find yourself complaining about your lot in life, you really need to read this book to get some inkling of that it feels like to have REAL problems: stranded in a huge, arctic...
  • Wanda
    I was much looking forward to reading this, as I was not particularly knowledgeable about the plight of the Leningraders – except to know that they suffered terribly, as did millions of others at Stalin’s hands. Reading this certainly added one more piece of evidence to my already hefty collection, that the man was a beast. Often when I read about him and Hitler, I yearn for an afterlife in which they are punished in perpetuity for their acts...
  • Jeff Dawson
    Excellent ReadDespite reading this over twenty years ago, it left a lasting impression how desperate the plight of Lenigraders was during the titanic struggle. Imagine being completely cut-off six months of the year from your country. The only life-line is lake Ladoga when it freezes over. Yet even then, thin ice, constant shelling and mechanical failures imped the arrival of the few sparse supplies coming into to the city.Imagine funeral pyres b...
  • John
    Excellent read. I went to this book after reading a footnote in one of my history books. Any friend you know that may have family in Russia will be able to add to this historical narrative about what Salisbury confirms that (quoting the official historical record) 'In world history there are no examples which in their tragedy equal the terrors of starving Leningrad. Each day.. was the equal of many months of ordinary life.' Those who maintain tha...
  • Cathy
    Aaahhh, the book starts out with a wonderful description of Leningrad on the whitest of the white nights, June 21, 1941 after a cold spring: People are out enjoying life and the culture the wonderful city offered to them, many of them quite confident their lives are safe from German invasion because their government has been telling them that. There have been so many warning signs of upcoming German aggression, based on flights into Russian airsp...
  • Erik Graff
    Detailed, but dry, this book treats of the almost-900-days of the German siege of Leningrad, focusing on the worst of it, 1941-42, and cursorily with the rest. What came across most forcefully was the inefficiency of dictatorship and terror whereby the moods of the autocrat, Stalin, and his henchmen, Beria, Malentov, Molotov, could adversely effect the course of state action, in this case national defense. What I hadn't known is how unprepared th...
  • Sal Valdez
    from an emaciated starving leningrad citizen who gives up a meal to attend the philharmonic - man does not live by bread alone. triumph of the human spirit. an amazing chronology of the most horrific siege of the modern era. yet also uplifting to learn of the countless ways the residents of Lwningrad managed to survive with their spirit intact
  • Dschreiber
    It's hard to imagine a better book being written on the siege of Leningrad. The author not only used hundreds of Russian print sources, but he visited Leningrad soon after the siege, and he interviewed many residents who lived through the experience.In the early chapters there are sections that require some patience, as the arrangement of military forces is described and statistics about weapons and so on are given. I'd say, too, that the build-u...
  • danny
    This volume continues to be the most complete history of the WWII Leningrad blockade, even though it was published in 1968. Harrison Salisbury was afforded remarkable access to extensive Soviet historical archival material, significant military figures, as well as individual civilians that had lived through the seige. I'm actually curious if, with the increased accessablity of Soviet-era historical information, there is more information published...
  • Chris
    Amazing story. How many people know that almost 1.5 million people--about half the population of Leningrad (St. Petersburg)--died as a result of the Nazi siege in WWII? Most of the deaths were from starvation. As is often the case in Russian history, the people also suffered terribly from the actions and inaction of their own government. (Is there any country whose people have suffered more from their fellow human beings in the last 200 years tha...
  • Michael
    This is a very comprehensive description of the Nazi siege of Leningrad. Since Salisbury covers both the military events and the life of the population, it can be difficult to juggle all the names. He is particularly good at depicting how much of the suffering was due to Stalin's maniacal need to control everyone, and to kill anyone who might have questioned his leadership. As soon as the war was over, Stalin tried to erase all knowledge of the h...
  • Adam Whitehead
    On the evening of 21 June 1941, Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg, the former capital of Russia and birthplace of the Soviet Union, was one of Europe's greatest cities. Three million people lived in a city where art and literature flourished, at least as much as was possible under Stalin's paranoid rule. The city and its hundreds of factories also benefited from the peace treaty with Nazi Germany, as materials poured out towards the German borde...
  • David Cain
    I read this book during the eight months in 2017 that I lived in St. Petersburg. Prior to moving to Russia, I already knew the broad outlines of Leningrad's experiences during the Great Patriotic War (as the Eastern Front of WWII from 1941-1945 is named there). Within a short amount of time after my arrival in April I had already visited the Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad, Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, the Monument to the Heroic ...
  • BC
    As other reviewers have pointed out, this work reads like a novel. It is an extraordinary story about a city, its inhabitants, and its defenders. I was surprised to see so much build-up to the seige, but on the whole, the book works remarkably well.I won't recount the story again, but there are a couple points worth making. St. Petersburg was always seen as 'different' from the rest of Russia, both by residents and outsiders. Nowhere was this dif...
  • Sue
    The Nazi seige of Leningrad from 1941-1942 cut the city off from food, fuel, medical supplies, and more. More people perished under these horrific conditions than in the bombing Hiroshima. Stalin refused to believe intelligense reports that Hitler was massing troops along the Soviet Border. In his arrogance, Stalin believed he would be the one to attack and do it in his own time therefore Germany was able to attack at the point when Soviet Union ...
  • Richard Lambour
    Clearly the definitive work on this terrible and tragic event. Moves back and forth between excellent and engaging narrative history and mind-numbing description of minutiae (such as lists of how many tons of different foodstuff were brought into Leningrad on a month to month basis during the first winter of the siege). I read this because I have been to St. Petersburg and the events of WW2 and the siege were a HUGE part of the identity of the ol...
  • Tom
    I read The 900 Days in my Junior year (1970) of High School. Little did I imagine that I would be visiting Leningrad the summer after graduation.I remember reading and re-reading certain sections of the book in disbelief. What these people endured and eventually overcame lies far outside anything the most fertile imagination could conjure up. The episodes of cannibalism and other lengths many resorted to just to survive took my mind far afield fr...
  • Ella Jane
    I just could not get through this. I absolutely love nonfiction and I got interested in the Siege of Leningrad after reading the amazing Deathless by Catherynne Valente, so I thought this would be a great way to explore it more... but I just cannot get past the first 100 pages. I keep trying and trying, but the description of military action at the start of the book is so frenetic with a stream of names, dates, and places that are not particularl...
  • Karl Jorgenson
    A fine historical narrative. I was directed to this book because David Benoit relied upon it to create his 'City of Thieves' (allegedly what Hitler called Leningrad). The book describes the siege and the machinations of Soviet Bureaucracy in excruciating detail, punctuated with personal stories of the starving, freezing, dying population. An amazing story, a holocaust for the ages. I found one anecdote stolen by Benoit wholesale from this book. G...
  • Justin
    Through archival research and personal interviews conducted in the USSR, Salisbury recounts the events leading up to and during the 900-day long siege of Leningrad during World War 2. Salisbury mixes inspirational stories of Soviet determination, such as the establishment of a dangerous supply route over frozen lakes to ship food in while simultaneously shipping women and children out, and genuinely uplifting stories of kindness, such as soldiers...
  • Carolyn
    The best book ever written on WW II. The spirit and intellect of the Russian people is awe inspiring. They have forever had to endure the most oppressive and bleakest forms of government of any country on earth, and yet they remain a people of remarkable endurance, intelligence, and creativity. During the siege, they realized that they needed to devise ways in which to not only sustain their bodies, but they must also feed their minds and their s...
  • Andy Turner
    A horrific ordeal and a narrow escape in some ways. Had Lenningrad fallen who knows what the world would be like. It is a very interesting history given the way the information and people have been treated over the years. I was struck with how unprepared the Russians were for war and how much resource they fed their enemy prior to war breaking out. I would recommend this book to anyone planning to visit the area or with a keen interest in the sec...
  • Martin Brant
    Compared to what the people of Stalingrad suffered through during WWII, even cities like London had a day in the park. I could use several pages describing the horrors the people Stalingrad went through, but you'll find out soon enough when you read this magnificent account. As a whole, only the European Jews knew the full extent of Nazi horror to the degree the people of this Russian city came to know. How I admire the human race, and in this ca...
  • Kevin Farrell
    I kept finding this book cited as reference in other books about life in WWII Russia. So I thought "I better take a look at that book." This is an amazing story that I knew nothing about prior to reading this book. Imagine a large city (3 million-ish) under siege. The Germans don't really want to fight it out if they can starve the Russians out. Read about the amazing hardships and the phenomenal effort by Russian officers to defend this city and...