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10 thoughts on “Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble

  1. Matt Matt says:

    I grew up a World War II movie junkie and one of my favorites was Ken Annakin’s The Battle of the Bulge The movie is a seuel of sorts to the D Day classic The Longest Day which Annakin also helped direct The two movies share a lot of similarities They are both big long World War II epics with sprawling all star casts The main difference besides The Battle of the Bulge being in color is that The Longest Day strove for historical verity having been based on Cornelius Ryan’s famous book while The Battle of the Bulge puts Robert Shaw in a tank and has him attack Telly Savalas in a battle royale for an oil dumpAs a kid the thing that struck me about The Battle of the Bulge is how badly the Americans got knocked around At the start the American officers aren’t paying attention to the German buildup and the soldiers are unprepared When the attack commences the German tanks far superior to their American counterparts wipe the floor with the good guys There are German soldiers in American uniforms speaking perfect English and wreaking havoc behind the lines To top it all off – and despite mainly ignoring the actual reality of the battle – the film depicts the massacre of American troops at Malmédy Just as I am about to despair however the tide turns The classic American comeback begins when the character played by James MacArthur the older hunkier brother in Annakin’s masterpiece The Swiss Family Robinson comes across some dastardly Nazi saboteurs dressed in American uniforms MacArthur calmly engages the Nazis in conversation and then in the badass moment of the movie calls out to one of them “Does the road to Amblève still lead to Malmédy?” He then blows them away Personally I would’ve liked MacArthur to have wiped them out with a coconut bomb but I wasn’t asked The Battle of the Bulge asks a lot of uestions uestions like “Why do the Ardennes look like the plains of Spain?” Answer Because it was filmed there Or “Why is Robert Shaw a Nazi?” Answer Hollywood magic The movie fails the history of the battle at every level but does a decent job – if I’m being charitable – at capturing the ineffable essence of the Bulge that sense of a moral victory hewn from an overwhelming tactical defeat; of individual heroism in the face of a mass systemic breakdown It’s a very American battle in that it starts out with utter unpreparedness and ends with the salvaging of dignity and eventually outright triumph The oddly named Battle of the Bulge it has nothing to do with the waistlines of the soldiers of any warring nation began on December 16 1944 with a desperately powerful offensive by the German Army which included tough panzer divisions and the feared Waffen SS The Nazi blow landed on a weakly defended sector of the Allied lines in the Ardennes region of Belgium The American troops under the command of Omar Bradley were forced to retreat in disarray Despite the initial breakdown of the American unit cohesion enough makeshift commands banded together to fatally slow the Nazi advance They were helped by traffic jams and roads turned to mud Eventually the Nazi offensive petered out well short of its Hitler derived goal of Antwerp On a map the totality of the German advance looks like a salient or bulge punched into the Allied lines Antony Beevor is the latest in a series of authors including John Toland to grapple with this intense and fascinating battle Ardennes 1944 is written in typical Beevor style which is a good thing It is unpretentious solid conservative and fair in its judgments and eually balanced between the minutiae of battlefield movement and the experiences of the soldier on the ground Ardennes 1944 also presents its material in a methodical day by day style This is extremely helpful in a wide ranging battle with two major areas of operation dubbed the Northern and Southern Shoulders and with so many different tactical units involved Beevor previously covered the Allied invasion of Europe in his eually well written D Day The Battle for Normandy Ardennes 1944 picks up where that book leaves off Instead of jumping straight into the battle Beevor helpfully sets the scene The American and British Armies have broken loose from the hedgerows and liberated France A drunk and armed Ernest Hemingway is carousing in Paris Antwerp is in Allied controlled The end of the war has reached a point of mathematical inevitability The Allies’ top generals – Supreme Commander Dwight D Eisenhower General Omar Bradley and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery – are concerned with who is going to get the most glory than in actually concluding the war Montgomery wants his troops to take the lead; Bradley wants that honor to go to his 12th Army Group As Beevor notes Marlene Dietrich is also around wearing a dress so tight she goes without underwear She claimed she slept with Patton She did sleep with James Gavin of the 82nd Airborne All in all the Allies believed the Germans a spent force and were ill prepared for a ferocious counteroffensive The introductory chapters also include descriptions of the US First Army’s capture of Aachen and the needless Battle of the Huertgen Forest In deciding on the best path to the Rhine Courtney Hodges decided on the worst possible route straight into a dense forest that limited Allied air superiority Simply put the end results of these battles were to batter the American forces involved weakening them in the face of a growing German presence on their front The secret operation codenamed Watch on Rhine was a classic Hitler delusion designed to split the Anglo American forces militarily and rive the Anglo American Soviet alliance politically The result however was to split the Anglo American forces politically though not fatally and to leave Eastern Germany woefully unprepared for the titanic Soviet onslaught that began in January 1945 Before getting to that point the American Army had to face its toughest battle in the European Theater When it was over the Americans had suffered 75482 casualties including 8407 men killed The British by contrast lost 200 men killed which explains in and of itself why so many Americans were pissed off by Montgomery’s attempts to take command of US forces Starting on Saturday December 16 Beevor devotes a chapter to each day of the battle up until the relief of Bastogne on December 26 He also provides the battle’s follow up describing Himmler’s Operation Nordwind and the Allied counteroffensive to flatten the Bulge Beevor does a fine job describing a complicated engagement moving from the strategic to the tactical to the personal experience of the soldiers He walks a fine line in the level of detail to provide If there’s too much you’re bound to get bogged down as I did in Charles MacDonald’s company level opus A Time for Trumpets If there’s too little you don’t have a clue how things actually occurred Here he does a good job keeping the forest in sight while regularly zooming in to inspect the trees Importantly he never loses sight of the human dimension American field hospitals couldbe a grisly spectacle A senior nurse with the Third Army described a ward known as the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ which stank of ‘gore and sweat and human excretions’ She recounted a night shift tending two soldiers who ‘had been dying all day yesterday and they were dying all right nowOne a private in the infantry had lost both legs and one hand he had a deep chest wound and his bowels were perforated by a shell fragmentThe other patient was a corporal in a tank outfit His spinal cord was severed and he was paralyzed from the waist down His belly was open and so was his chest’ Both boys were in a coma breathing noisily ‘It’s a good thing their mothers can’t see them when they die’ she saidBeevor’s account is helped along by a number of good maps a map key important if you didn't go to West Point or Sandhurst a glossary a table of military ranks and an order of battle He also intersperses the battle narrative with a number of subplots The zaniest of course is the suabbles between Eisenhower Bradley and Montgomery Their petty fights over honors glory and fame would almost be funny if the stakes weren’t dead serious to thousands of men To call them children is an insult to children because children don’t know better Beevor also takes time to cover other worthy topics including the rampant shooting of prisoners by both sides most infamously the German slaughter of Americans at Malmédy; the frantic struggle for survival by Belgian civilians caught between two warring armies; and the ill fated Operation Greif where English speaking Germans were dressed in American uniforms given American euipment and dropped behind American lines causing a lot of confusion but achieving no lasting success Due to this book’s relative brevity there is sometimes not a lot of room for amplification Thus certain topics that Beevor touches on – such as the laudable performance of black units – do not get enough space Ardennes 1944 is a sturdy history It is not written with the Shelby Foote esue prose of Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy And it lacks the provocative opinions put forth by Max Hastings That isn’t to say that Beevor doesn’t make his opinions known He does He is highly critical of Omar Bradley’s performance and is consistently irritated – as is most of posterity – by the preening of Montgomery The virtues of Ardennes 1944 are in its thoroughness readability and dependability The judgments made in this book are solid and steer clear of an annoying tendency of modern historians to deprecate the abilities of the Anglo American armies while celebrating – with a certain touch of gauche reverence – the skill of the German Wehrmacht There is an ocean of World War II books out in the world It is a war that will be fought on paper or on ebooks for the rest of human time Antony Beevor’s books have proven to be offerings that stand out in an enormous crowd I received a copy of Ardennes 1944 from Viking in exchange for an honest review


  2. Dj Dj says:

    There have been truckloads of books on the Battle of the Bulge so when a new book comes out sometimes you have to ask what new can be said about a Battle or appropriately a series of Battles that have been examined and reexamined dozens if not hundreds of times Well as this book proves nothing really Antony Beevor's book doesn't really bring anything new to the table all of the information that is presented has been presented elsewhere This is not to surprising Even having said this it isn't wise to just toss aside a book because it brings no new facts to the table In this case while it presents nothing new in the way of information it does organize it well and makes it very easy to read Battles as a whole are not the focus of this book Instead it is geared towards the human condition While the book does include descriptions of battles How can you have a book on the Battle of the Bulge and not have any battles? In general these are brief and overview than detail The real details are given in regards to the conditions of the soldiers involved He also deals with the conditions of the Civilians who had the misfortune of being caught up in the battle While none of the information in and of itself in regards to this are new the fact that he brings up these things throughout the book is Most books on the battle will drop a comment on the conditions everyone was suffering under but few make it a primary focus After all knowing how both sides were suffering from cold malnutrition and lack of proper clothing isn't exciting Doesn't reveal the struggle of nations it is in short all to human This is a book that should be added to any collection for a Bulge enthusiast


  3. Philippe Malzieu Philippe Malzieu says:

    It is serious well written I read it like a thriller Beevor mixes the university excellence and an accessible writing There is a people who always fascinates me I had discovered him in Paxton's book It is Montgomery This mixture of orgueil and of mediocrity fascinates me I have to find a biography of him


  4. Michael Michael says:

    I received this book through a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads I've read a number of Antony Beevor's books Stalingrad The Fateful Siege 1942 1943 and The Fall of Berlin 1945 being two of my favorites and his latest is up to his usual excellent standards Deeply researched meticulous in detail and full of helpful maps Beevor provides a day by day account of the Battle of the Bulge that manages to bring clarity to what was a very confusing battle of multiple attacks and counter attacks and deftly covers the conflicts and tensions among the Allied High Command This book is in many ways what I consider military history for the armchair general lots of descriptions of when a specific military unit advanced to a particular hamlet to engage a specific enemy military unit So if you are not the type who relishes flipping back and forth to the maps and the Order of Battle to follow along precisely what and where is happening which I do much to the amusement of other family members and instead find that type of detail to be distracting be forewarned But Beevor also seamlessly weaves the viewpoint of the foot soldier and civilian into the narrative bringing the actual human experience and the pain and brutality of battle to the forefront of his account Recommended


  5. Jason Koivu Jason Koivu says:

    A very thorough and focused look at the fighting in the Ardennes towards the end of WWII Viewers of the Band of Brothers miniseries will remember this mainly for the defense of Bastogne Belgium in the middle of winter Beevor mostly discusses the decisions and movements of generals and field marshals with the occasional uote from the lower ranks or non combatants like Ernest Hemingway The affects on the landscape and people are relayed with great sympathy In the end the reader comes away with a comprehensive understanding of a key point in the war Germany's surprisingly potent last gasp offensive


  6. TR Peterson TR Peterson says:

    Antony Beevor has once again written a gripping and well researched account of a WW2 battle that deserves to be placed high on the list of the myriad books on the topic Ardennes 1944 Hitler's Last Gamble holds nothing back in its evocative overview of the moments of despair and elation of both Axis and Allied soldiers as they struggled in the depths muck and mire of the wooded German landscape The reader is transported into the damp and dark foxholes as Panzers roll overhead in an attempt to bury soldiers alive while men huddle and try largely unsuccessfully to avoid trench foot and the chill of the forest One cannot help but notice that Beevor's comparisons to the misery of the Eastern Front are incredibly astuteAs with most of Beevor's excellent accounts detailed maps along with his descriptive prowess provide the reader an eagle eye view of the positions of men circled in Bastogne and heartbreaking losses as competing armies struggle back and forth over small bits of land again evocative of StalingradThe genius in Beevor's writing is not only battle descriptions and troop movements but his use of well timed stories and anecdotes both humorous and utterly grotesue that help capture the insanity and contradictions of war I highly recommend this brilliant book This is a review of the UK edition of the book released May 21st 2015 The US edition will be released on November 5th 2015 under the title Ardennes 1944 The Battle of the Bulge


  7. Jonathan Jonathan says:

    Antony Beevor brings his historical expertise and writing abilities to the Ardennes Offensive of the winter 1944 45 or the Battle of the Bulge as it's known in America This was the American Army's largest battle ever and the corpus of written material on it is similarly immense Do we really need another book about this battle? Well Beevor does bring some new material to the table such as the fate of civilians trapped in the battle or who managed to flee and to the towns villages and farms which were destroyed by both sides' extensive use of aerial or artillery firepower And while the massacre of American prisoners by their SS German captors at Malmedy is notorious he also points out that the Americans themselves took their revenge in a bloody fashion and with the connivance or approval of high ranking American officers Indeed one of his main points is that even by the standards of the Second World War in Western Europe this battle was notable for its savagery and enormous numbers of casualties Fighting in the dead of winter did not improve things Another strong point of this book is how Beevor manages to strip the fighting of whatever glorious aspects it might have without being preachy Nonetheless the American Army with some exceptions has much to be proud of here having been taken by surprise and heavily outnumbered as the offensive commenced it managed to turn things around and stop the Germans before they could achieve anything of strategic significance It was a grave political mistake on Hitler's part but the writing was on the wall for Nazi Germany by this point A very good book indeed on an important battle of WWII


  8. Checkman Checkman says:

    An excellent account of the Ardennes Offensive I've read many a book about this campaign the United States Army gives it campaign status; Alsace Ardennes so I'm always looking for a different approach Mr Beevor has a style that looks at the military situation in depth but not to the point of overwhelming the reader with platoon and battalion movements He mixes the unit histories with personal accounts from both sides and the civilians caught in the middle I can't help comparing him with the World War II histories that I devoured when I was a kid Many of those books from my youth were written in the fifties and sixties They rarely concerned themselves with the suffering that the ground war inflicted on the civilian population As a result I had the image of Europe as an underpopulated continent Yes there were civilians but when it came time for the armies to clash they were thoughtfully out of the way When I would view the photos and films of troops fighting among the ruins of villages and cities it never dawned on me that there were civilians possibly many still there among the ruins as well I certainly never considered that the destruction of the infrastructure could lead to famine cholera pestilence and so on By the seventies historians began to look at the devestation that the war inflicted on the civilians on all sides but the focus was still on the combatants it seems I suppose that I wasn't interested in such dreary things and ignored those writers who did look at the civilians Well in 2019 I am attuned to the plight of those deemed inconvenient and Mr Beevor does good work showing how even the Liberators allied forces inflicted than a few hardships on the populations Those poor folks who were so inconviently in the way In addition to showing what civilians had to endure Mr Beevor is remarkedly fair minded when it comes to the various allied forces Many historians are blantent when it comes to their favoritism There are historians who seem to admire the German military machine while others give an inordiante amount of attention to the so called elite units airborne Rangers Commandos SAS etc while giving the average formations short shrift There are those who bad mouth the United States ground effort with the exception of the Marine Corp this has become rather trendy recently while praising the Soviet forces Then there are those who enjoy comparing the numbers of dead and injured as some type of proof of who fought harder than others this trend I personally find rather despicable I could go on and on but I think you get my point Mr Beevor does not do that He understands that war is chaotic and everybody will make mistakes He talks about the courage of the average American infantryman and praises their effortsto include the hard luck 106th Infantry Division Rather than focusing on just St Vith I finally got to visit St Vith in 2012 and Bastogne he addresses that US soldiers across the region fought and held up the Germans Sometimes for a few crucial hours and sometimes for a few days It's all rather refreshing Especially coming from a British historian The other thing that Mr Beevor does is point out that the American soldiers fought the first few days of the offensive with little to no air support It has also become trendy to point out that if it hadn't been for the lavish air and artillery support the American troops wouldn't have stood a chance Mr Beevor points out than once that many of the American troops fought hard with little to no air support sparse manpower and meager ammunition supplies He isn't afraid to criticize Field Marshal Montgomery but he also praises Monty when he makes the correct decision In recent years I've come to view Monty in a different light Yes the man could be a horses ass at times but he wasn't incompetent and there were times he was sparing of his troops lives then American commanders This same balanced approach is applied to Patton Bradley Eisenhower and what not It's a refreshing and honest style and I for one appreciate it The war ended almost seventy five years ago It's time to go beyond petty nationalism and look at the involved parties in a honest light All in all a well written and refreshingly biased free account of one of the most famous battlescampaigns of the Second World War Excellent work Mr Beevor


  9. Michael Kotsarinis Michael Kotsarinis says:

    To be specific 3755 but that's just minor nagging mainly because I'd love some maps to help the reader draw a better picture as he watches this documentary OK I have to confess that Antony Beevor is my favourite war historian but there is good reason for that Most of his books are written in a way that we get the feeling we watch a detailed documentary verging on historical fiction at some points and not a true history book But be not mistaken this is history as real as it can get properly and exhaustively researched


  10. Peter Jowers Peter Jowers says:

    Five stars for research Readers should just try and imagine the mental torture of being colder wetter and apprehensive than one could possibly imagineI think the saddest thing I took from reading the book was the fact that the senior German Generals were unable to persuade Hitler to give up the whole plan which had no chance of long term success The allies on the western front might well have reached Berlin before the Soviet forces and saved many lives on the process


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Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble ✿ [EPUB] ✷ Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble By Antony Beevor ❥ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk From the bestselling author of Stalingrad Berlin and D Day Antony Beevor's Ardennes 1944 Hitler's Last Gamble tells the story of the German's ill fated final standOn 16 December 1944 Hitler launched h From the bestselling author of Stalingrad Berlin Hitler's Last PDF ´ and D Day Antony Beevor's Ardennes Hitler's Last Gamble tells the story of the German's ill fated final standOn December 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 Ardennes 1944: Epub / 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 than a million men involved became the greatest 1944: Hitler's Last PDF ✓ 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'Revealing profound and thoroughly unputdownable Stalingrad is an extraordinary achievement which transcends its genre' Vitali Vitaliev Daily Telegraph on Stalingrad'This brilliant storyteller makes us feel the chaos and the fear as if every drop of blood was our own that is his gift It is much than just a humane account; it is compellingly readable deeply researched and beautifully written' Simon Sebag Montefiore Spectator on Berlin'This is a terrific inspiring heart breaking book It makes the argument all over again that the world would be an infinitely better place if it didn't keep producing subject matter for military historians but as long as it does we can rejoice that at the top of that profession is Antony Beevor' Sam Leith Daily Mail on D Day'His book is the definitive history This is World War II as Tolstoy would have described it the great and the small' Gerard DeGroot Washington Post on The Second World WarAntony Beevor is the renowned author of Stalingrad which won the Samuel Johnson Prize the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature and Berlin which received the first Longman History Today Trustees' Award His books have appeared in thirty foreign editions and sold over six million copies.