This is epic story of the last eight months of World War II in Europe by one of Britain’s most highly regarded military historians, whose accounts of past battles John Keegan has described as worthy “to stand with that of the best journalists and writers” (New York Times Book Review).
In September 1944, the Allies believed that Hitler’s army was beaten, and expected that the war would be over by Christmas. But the disastrous Allied airborne landing in Holland, American setbacks on the German border and in the Hürtgen Forest, together with the bitter Battle of the Bulge, drastically altered that timetable. Hastings tells the story of both the Eastern and Western Fronts, and paints a vivid portrait of the Red Army’s onslaught on Hitler’s empire. He has searched the archives of the major combatants and interviewed 170 survivors to give us an unprecedented understanding of how the great battles were fought, and of their human impact on American, British, German, and Russian soldiers and civilians.
Hastings raises provocative questions: Were the Western Allied cause and campaign compromised by a desire to get the Soviets to do most of the fighting? Why were the Russians and Germans more effective soldiers than the Americans and British? Why did the bombing of Germany’s cities continue until the last weeks of the war, when it could no longer influence the outcome? Why did the Germans prove more fanatical foes than the Japanese, fighting to the bitter end? This book also contains vivid portraits of Stalin, Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and the other giants of the struggle.
The crucial final months of the twentieth century’s greatest global conflict come alive in this rousing and revelatory chronicle.
This huge and splendid volume tells the grim tale of the final collapse of the Third Reich. It does so from the viewpoints of the upper millstone (the Western Allies), the lower millstone (the Russians) and the grain being ground in between (the Germans). The research includes previously untapped Russian archives (particularly in the accounts of Soviet veterans) and leads to a gripping and horrifying story that serious students of military history will find almost impossible to put down. The blunders recounted are numerous, from the Allied failure to open Antwerp in the fall of 1944 to the Russian frontal assault on Berlin, and the Wehrmacht is depicted as the best army of the war and also the most atrocious in its treatment of civilians. Indeed, the treatment of civilians is a major theme, since they were slaughtered on a scale unheard of since the Thirty Years' War, and not only the Nazi camp inmates but also the inhabitants of Poland and East Prussia were numbered among the victims. The author hands out praise and blame with his usual edged aplomb (Anglophile readers may be happy to see a partial rehabilitation of Montgomery) and willingness to engender controversy, and also with his usual thorough research and clear writing (along with 24 pages of photos) to sustain every case he makes. His book ranks among the very best military history volumes of the year.
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One of the finest...
Sir Max Hastings' account of the harried, costly and cataclysmic fall of Hitler's Europe is masterful and one the finest histories I've had the pleasure to read.