In this deeply researched work, with striking insights into the major players on both sides, Antony Beevor tells us the story of the German's ill-fated final stand and gives us the definitive account of the Ardennes offensive which was to become the greatest battle of World War II, Penguin reports.
Utilising all his innumerable skills, including his sharp analysis and concise prose, Beevor brings to life the ill-fated offensive that would go on to become the greatest battle of the war in Western Europe, Toppingbooks reports.
It is written with all of Beevor’s customary verve and elegance… He encompass the wide sweep of campaigns with the piquant details of what happened to the individual GI… He focuses brilliantly on the key moments that turned the battle and he has the gift of the monstrous egos of the commanders, Robert Fox, London Evening Standard’s correspondent, tells us in his review, among other things.
Beevor’s book is almost unbearably painful reading…; Beevor’s focus is close to the action…; the vast numbers of the dead pervade the pages like an oppressive fog…; Beevor writes with an eye for the personal that keeps the narrative flowing…; it is easy to get slightly lost in the relentless manoeuvres, with the narrative echoing the confusion of many soldiers in the field…; several crucial issues do emerge clearly, however, most notably the breakdown of goodwill between generals Montgomery and Bradley, and hence between Britain and the US…; also admirable is the way Beevor addresses both German and Allied courage — and war crimes. Stories of atrocities riddle the text…; Clare Mulley, The Spectator's reviewer, says in his review, among other things.
On 16 December, 1944, Hitler launched his 'last gamble' in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back.
The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in Western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters which slowed the German advance.
The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front. And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle which finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.