The new BBC adaptation of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate for Radio 4 will give this important book a new audience. The novel centres on the life and death struggle at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-3. The outcome of the Second World War hung in the balance as fighting raged in the city named for the Soviet dictator. As the Nazis approached the Eastern front they had carried out a genocidal war slaughtering millions of civilians, Red Army soldiers and Jews. The defeat of the German forces at Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for the Nazis.