Hitler's Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945

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9780060166274: Hitler's Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945

Drawn from research conducted by a team of military experts under the direction of historian Trevor Dupuy, this book is the most complete and detailed account of the Battle of the Bulge ever written, covering all aspects of the campaign on both sides. 32 pages of photos; 20 maps.

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Review:

The account of the battle itself is perfectly satisfactory, if a little dry at times. I still prefer Charles B MacDonald's more immersive account, not least because it does not shy away at times from painting a less robust picture of American command during the battle (witness the very different treatment of the commander of the 14th Cavalry in either book). However, where this book really stands out is in the wealth of information about the armies involved in the battle - everything from unit organisations and strengths to type of equipment to combat losses. This book also offers some interesting analyses of certain Bulge 'controversies', such as the relative quality of either side's soldiers, the role of Pieper in the Malmedy massacre and the performance of the opposing commanders. Not sure I fully agree with all of its conclusions, particularly the rather grudging acknowledgement of Montgomery's role (although the latter is rightly castigated for his self-serving pronouncements during the campaign). Also, the praise of Bradley and Hodges is a bit too fulsome for my tastes (in this regard I find Max Hastings to be a more convincing read), but overall this is a worthy addition to a Bulge aficionado's library. --munster8

Research is the strength of this work, not the telling of a major battle. It is difficult for the reader to grasp the overall view of this clash as it is layered over with detail upon detail. From mass movements to small skirmishes, it is told in the driest of writing style. The usual complaint levied against military books, inadequate maps, can not be claimed here. The maps are numerous and like the work itself, detailed. As a reference tool the book is invaluable and for this it merits the rating given. An interesting read it is not but it does belongs on the shelf of those with a serious interest in the Bulge. --George G. Kiefer

An excellent blow-by-blow account of the battle. However, like the real battle, much less interesting toward the end. The book also has an annoying tendency to vary widely in its approach: at one moment it is a real soldiers story, with intimate portrayals of courage; and at another moment a dry, sholarly presentation of military movements. Although this may describe many military books, this book can be particularly annoying in its vacillation. Overall, though, one of the best books on the subject. My rating of "8" is a relative comparison to other Bulge books I have read --A Customer

From Booklist:

Marshaled as if this text were itself a military operations manual, the facts presented here trace 100 units that fought in the Ardennes forest 50 years ago. Dupuy, author of dozens of military books, claims for this the ultimate place for comprehensive research on the campaign, and the bewildering factual phalanx of weaponry specs, tactical deployments, weather reports, and casualty counts compells agreement with the assertion. The U.S. Army was impressed enough to use Dupuy's information in a database. So on December 16, 1944, the German forces began an offensive that achieved complete surprise. Dupuy and his co-writers unfold minute-by-minute the German units' progress, loss of impetus, and repulse. The prodigious amount of detail does yield some revisions--that fighting around St. Vith, rather than Bastogne (famed for the "Nuts!" retort to a German surrender demand), turned the tide in favor of the Americans--and so readers attuned to the anniversary and steeped in militarese might favor this work over the dozen in-print oral histories or pictorial works. Gilbert Taylor

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