A month ago I posted about the decision before me as to what book-related indulgence I should get myself for Christmas this year. While I ended up going with the fourteen volumes of E. H. Carr's "History of Soviet Russia" series, I decided to see if I could borrow a copy of my other option — Christopher A. Lawrence's Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka — through Inter-Library Loan so that I could inspect it for myself.
To my pleasant surprise, they were able to find a library with a copy they were willing to lend. It arrived yesterday — and the word that best describes it is "wow."
Over the years I have held more than a few books in my hands, but I have never handled one with this many pages bound in a single volume. To give you a basis of comparison, here it is with one of the books that I'm currently reading — which at 637 pages, is a mere wisp by comparison.
The book is so large as to be practically unreadable; it's impossible for me to imagine bringing it with me on a plane flight, for example (unless my goal was to weigh it down so much that it couldn't take off). And it's not exactly a quick read, either:
Though I've only skimmed it, so far it looks like my least favorite sort of military history, which is the aridly detailed "The XIX Corps moved thirty kilometers to position itself over the third ridge a hectare from the position of the defensive positions blah blah blah" variety. It's not totally uninteresting, but 1622 pages of it seems a bit much.
So while I will give this a read while I have it (because a book like this simply has to be reviewed), I know now that I made the right choice gift-wise. Because while it certainly looks awesome and is probably the sort of book that I would probably return to, to me it doesn't look like it's worth what I would have to spend to buy one: I like it, but I don't $250 like it.
Oh, and the library that supplied it was the Library of Congress. So that's pretty cool.