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Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge
By Antony Beevor
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Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

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Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge
By Antony Beevor
Thorndike Press Large Print - 2015 ISBN: 978-1-4104-8372-0
Genre: History - World War II

Reviewed by Boris Segel - December 28, 2015

Antony Beevor is a British historian who specializes in military history. Over the years he has written a dozen or so books, including several novels. Most of his books, however, are works of nonfiction that focus on various aspects of World War II. In his newest book, Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge he provides a blow-by-blow overview of the Battle of the Bulge, including the events leading up to the battle, insights into the men who prosecuted this battle, and its aftermath.

The book begins on the 27 August 1944, as General Dwight D. Eisenhower is setting out to visit newly liberated Paris. Many feel that victory is in the air and the war will soon be over. Little do they know that many horrific battles are yet to come - with the Battle of the Bulge being one of them. From this modest beginning, the book takes the readers right on a graphic tour of the battle, and it highlights the numerous mistakes made by the Germans and the long term impact that it had upon their ability to continue the greater conflict. The fighting in the Ardennes in the December 1944 and January 1945, was brutal with more than 200,000 men killed, captured, or wounded. In addition, atrocities were committed on both sides. Beevor does not pull any punches when writing about this battle, and he shows the battle from both the allied and Nazi viewpoints - warts and all.

For those looking for a popular history written in the nonfiction narrative style promulgate by the likes of Dan Jones (The Plantagenets), Richard Zacks (Island of Vice), or Erik Larson (Dead Wake), look elsewhere. I say this because Ardennes 1944, while engaging, is written in a style more reminiscent of traditional history books. It also presupposes that you already have some familiarity with the Battle of the Bulge, and the key players that participated in the battle. As such, Beevor does not go into as much background material as he would for a book written for a more general audience.

That being said, for those with a keen interest into the military aspects of World War II, this is a fascinating book. Beevor goes into a great deal of minutia concerning the battle - from its planning stages onward, and he points out where the various commanders failed - and succeeded. Most important, he looks at the events on the ground not only from the perspective of the commanders, but also from what the battle was like for the common foot soldier. He also covers some points, such as the Chenogne massacre, which is often overlooked in other texts because it paints the Allies in a bad light. (At Chenogne, American soldiers murdered about 60 Wehrmacht soldiers in a fit of rage, in retaliation for an earlier instance in which Waffen SS soldiers executed, in cold blood, about 80 American POWs, near the town of Malmedy.)

All in all, Ardennes 1944 is an excellent book and one that is sure to enthrall those with a keen interest in military history. Best of all, this book is available in large print!

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