Between December 16, 1944 and January 15, 1945, American forces found themselves entrenched in the heavily forested Ardennes region of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg defending against an advancing German army amid freezing temperatures, deep snow, and dense fog. Operation Herbstnebel - Autumn Mist - was a massive German counter-offensive that stunned the Allies in its scope and intensity. In the end, the 40-day long Battle of the Bulge, as it has come to be called, was the bloodiest battle fought by U.S. forces in World War II, and indeed the largest land battle in American history. Before effectively halting the German advance, some 89,000 of the 610,000 American servicemen committed to the campaign had become casualties, including 19,000 killed. The engagement saw the taking of thousands of Americans as prisoners of war, some of whom were massacred by the SS - but it also witnessed the storied stand by U.S. forces at Bastogne as German forces besieged the region and culminated in a decisive if costly American victory. Ordered and directed by Hitler himself--against the advice of his generals - the Ardennes offensive was the last major German offensive on the Western Front. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment. Its last reserve squandered, these irreplaceable losses would hasten the end of the war.
In Snow and Steel, Peter Caddick-Adams draws on interviews with over 100 participants of the campaign, as well as archival material from both German and US sources, to offer an engagingly written and thorough reassessment of the historic battle. Exploring the failings of intelligence that were rife on both sides, the effects of weather, and the influence of terrain on the battle's outcome, Caddick-Adams deftly details the differences in weaponry and doctrine between the US and German forces, while offering new insights into the origins of the battle.
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fascinating and thorough, painful narration
Not a bad bit of history
Despite all of the flag-waving there is almost some balance in the historical account. There are some very good details probably not well known. Obviously, many of the stories collected by the author, while true enough, don't necessarily represent the entire campaign. That might be very difficult to do given the complexity of the events that occurred. There are other books on the 2nd world war as some of them have very definite agendas. The US Army won this battle and therefore one cannot say that the trumpet blowing is there to rationalize the US victory.
One of the things that is most important is that many uninformed individuals have a tendency to glorify the Nazi war machine as if the Nazi atrocities happened someplace else by a different Nazi organization. This book does a pretty good job of showing that for all of its reported efficiency, the Wehrmacht made very fundamental mistakes just as anyone else would do. They had their brainiacs, just as the United States and Britain and the other allies had their brainiacs.
My biggest criticism is that narrator, Paul Boehmer, has a Hogan's heroes German accent. I have lived in Germany and speak the language a bit and I know that Germans don't speak this way. It would have been better if he used a more "international" accent rather than a poor imitation of the Hollywood imitation of how Germans speak in the movies. After a while, it gets very annoying and detracts from a very pleasant delivery.
I do not know if he has ever lived in Germany, nor do I know if he speaks German, but his German accent is absolutely horrible and he should stop using it.
- Michael "I am here."