Ardennes 1944, by Antony Beevor

Reprinted from The Weekly Standard

The last German offensive of World War II began at 5:30 a.m. on December 16, 1944.  The rank-and-file German soldier thought he was giving Paris back to the Führer for a “Christmas present.”  The more experienced Wehrmacht commanders knew that, even should they reach the Meuse or—more fantastically—capture Antwerp, they were fighting but to delay Allied victory.

Caught off-guard much as Germans had been at Normandy, the Allies were the victims of a massive intelligence failure and a degree of holiday-season complacency.  They had failed to notice the buildup of 400 thousand enemy infantry, 1200 tanks, and over 4 thousand artillery pieces.  Many men and senior officers were on Christmas leave.

The 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles, to whom the pivotal defense of Bastogne was shortly to fall, were scheduled for leave in Paris and both their commanding officer and their deputy commander had already left.  Thus the 101st were led into their greatest fight by the division artillery commander, General Anthony C. McAuliffe.  When Bastogne was surrounded and the American field hospital captured, when our artillery was down to ten rounds per gun per day and one in four men had been wounded or killed, General McAuliffe had the honor of rejecting the German surrender demand with a single word: “Nuts.”  This colloquialism had to be explained to the Germans and has thrilled military historians, filmmakers, and fighting Americans ever since.

But not everything was nearly so inspiring, particularly in the early days of the offensive, which discovered serious flaws in the Allied command: Bradley was caught completely by surprise with his headquarters in the wrong place.  The stubborn and chronically unimaginative General Hodges, who had already ground down his First Army in the previous months’ fighting in the Hürtgen Forrest, was again unable to adapt to a changing situation.  But the worst offender was the famous British field marshal Montgomery, despised by every commander with whom he came into contact and whose personality was so corrosive that Antony Beevor speculates he might have suffered from “what today would be called high-functioning Asperger syndrome.”  Montgomery spent most of the offensive jockeying for overall command of the Allied ground forces—a task to which he was unsuited both militarily and politically.  Thanks to Montgomery, the American military victory in the Ardennes was also a British political defeat and the end of serious British influence in the conduct of the ground war.

Anthony Beevor’s book is a generally excellent balance between localized anecdotes and the more broadly historical account which they flavor.  The research is meticulous and the pacing is excellent.  In the event, the dramatic German defeat in the Ardennes crushed the German army to a degree that left it totally unprepared to fend off Russia’s Vistula-Oder offensive in January.  The German command had failed to consider the terrible road conditions which bogged down their tanks and were unaccountably stingy with fuel and strategic reserves.  But, principally, they had underestimated the speed with which Eisenhower would react, and the tenacity, skill and courage with which the American soldier would fight.

Research: 9/10

Storytelling: 8/10

Vitality: 8.5/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 8.8/10

Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge, by Antony Beevor.  Viking Press, 2015.  480 pages.

176 thoughts on “Ardennes 1944, by Antony Beevor

  1. Pingback: cialis cost
  2. Pingback: cialis 20 mg price
  3. Pingback: Viagra mail order
  4. Pingback: generic ventolin
  5. Pingback: tadalafil 10
  6. Pingback: naltrexone 50
  7. Pingback: cialis black
  8. Pingback: viagra samples
  9. Pingback: tylenol order
  10. Pingback: viagra substitute
  11. Pingback: cheap viagra
  12. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  13. Pingback: viagra generic
  14. Pingback: ed pills
  15. Pingback: erection pills
  16. Pingback: online pharmacy
  17. Pingback: vardenafil usa
  18. Pingback: levitra cost
  19. Pingback: buy cialis
  20. Pingback: viagra samples
  21. Pingback: real casino online
  22. Pingback: quick cash loans
  23. Pingback: payday advance
  24. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  25. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  26. Pingback: online casino be
  27. Pingback: cialis 20
  28. Pingback: cialis to buy
  29. Pingback: viagra generic
  30. Pingback: viagra
  31. Pingback: buy viagra pills
  32. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  33. Pingback: when to buy viagra
  34. Pingback: cheap viagra
  35. Pingback:
  36. Pingback: goodrx cialis
  37. Pingback: generic viagra
  38. Pingback: viagra alternative
  39. Pingback: online viagra
  40. Pingback: Cialis 80mg uk
  41. Pingback: viagra for sale
  42. Pingback: otc viagra
  43. Pingback: viagra prices
  44. Pingback: buy viagra online
  45. Pingback: viagra generic
  46. Pingback: cheap 25mg viagra
  47. Pingback: cheap viagra rush
  48. Pingback: cialis results
  49. Pingback: generic cialis
  50. Pingback: cialis tablets
  51. Pingback: tadalafil tablets
  52. Pingback: catapres purchase
  53. Pingback: cheap cipro 750mg
  54. Pingback: claritin uk
  55. Pingback: gambling casino
  56. Pingback: casino real money
  57. Pingback: casino world
  58. Pingback: viagra san diego
  59. Pingback: accc car insurance
  60. Pingback: generic cialis buy
  61. Pingback: payday loans tulsa
  62. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  63. Pingback: viagra 100 mg
  64. Pingback: cbd capsules
  65. Pingback: buy an essay
  66. Pingback: buy essay cheap
  67. Pingback: free paper writer
  68. Pingback: essays
  69. Pingback: cleocin 150mg otc
  70. Pingback: jual cialis kaskus