The prizewinning historian and bestselling author of D-Day, Stalingrad, and The Battle of Arnhem reconstructs the Battle of the Bulge in this riveting new account
On December 16, 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes in Belgium, believing he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp and forcing 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 allies, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians abandoned their homes, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While some American soldiers, overwhelmed by the German onslaught, 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. In fact the Ardennes became the Western Front’s counterpart to Stalingrad. There was terrible ferocity on both sides, driven by desperation and revenge, in which the normal rules of combat were breached. The Ardennes—involving more than a million men—would prove to be the battle which finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
In this deeply researched work, with striking insights into the major players on both sides, Antony Beevor gives us the definitive account of the Ardennes offensive which was to become the greatest battle of World War II.
Biased points of view
This is review of the audiobook. The book itself early on takes a stance of bias towards Montgomery and rather bluntly implies that he was the only commanding general to get things right and to clearly see what the German army was doing during the battle of the bulge. The book even states that Patton not showing up on Christmas Day at Bastogne as he stated he would before his advance began is still some kind of failure on his part even though the 4th armored division broke through to Bastogne on the afternoon of the 26th. Most historians agree that Patton's withdrawal from combat around the area of Metz, turning the complete 3rd army 90 degrees north, advancing almost 100 miles and then reengaging the Germans near and around Bastogne and finally breaking through to the 101st airborne was his finest achievement of the war and easily outshines anything 'Ol Monty accomplished himself. Monty could never have pulled off this military feat and the author still finds some way to make Monty look like he would have done things better than not only Patton but any other commanding general at the army level. The book even casually dismisses monty's utter failure also known as Op Market Garden as Monty having learned that a single road cannot support an entire Corps I.E. XXX Corps. By the time the battle of the bulge took place, Monty's reputation was on a sharp decline and even other British officers such as Air Marshall Tedder were so sick of Monty and completely disenchanted with him that they would actually voice their opinions of Monty to Eisenhower. I found the book enjoyable and is well written other than the bias towards Monty being slipped in. The thing I found most annoying about this audio book version was the reader. He was very limited in his characters voices, literally every American character he voiced had the exact same voice, which basically makes it sound like Americans would be talking to themselves instead of a conversation between 2 or 3 people. This is didn't stop me from enjoying this book, I just thought the book would have been better with a reader that had more range and more enthusiasm instead of the near monotone, stiff British voice you get. Some may enjoy this version of the book, others might get bored or even frustrated with it due to the clearly British bias the very British Sir Anthony Beever understandably has.