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This book as a screenplay, which may have been at the back of the author's mind. There are a couple of themes you could work with - the continuum of loyalism, especially after the death of Hitler is one, how to best arrange for one's personal destiny if you know you're going to be on the losing side is another.
Ironically, the author spends much more time fleshing out the portrayal of the detainees and various German/Austrian notables. It could be he couldn't resist the thought of forcing the swashbuckling tank commander into a yankee stereotype, best introduced in a headlong rush of action.
There are the makings of a much better narrative than that which was told. Ultimately disappointing. A popular history written by someone hoping the screenplay gets picked up.
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What disappointed you about The Last Battle?
This is not a bad book. At times it does feel like Harding's pay was based on how many stock, trite war phrases he could work into the narrative, but stale verbiage aside it's not a poorly written book. My displeasure is with the choice he made to introduce all the players in this drama, through evidently well-researched biographical sketches, prior to the battle referenced in the title. We don't get a whiff of the battle until nearly the end of the book. Again, that choice does not make this a bad book, but it did make me really dislike it. It is a heavily researched book, but the pedantic details show up at odd times, giving this strange and almost surreal, human drama the feel of an old-school, names-and-dates antiquarian history. I wish he had gone the other way, allowing himself to speculate more on the human drama; the prison lives of these political foes locked together as VIP POWS. But Harding's discipline is firm, and we get the facts as they have been recorded. The actual battle, which takes place in the final 1/5 of the book feels largely anticlimactic. Acts of bravery and betrayal accompany scenes of comedy and tragedy, but they are fleeting and fail to land fully.I can't recommend this book, but if you're okay listening to a story structured like I've described, you may love it.
Would you ever listen to anything by Stephen Harding again?
I would give it a shot, sure.
Have you listened to any of Joe Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?