Monday, 27 July 2015

Ardennes 1944 by Anthony Beevor

Just finished this afternoon reading the latest book from Beevor on the Batte of the Bulge in December 1944. I bought it with some trepidation, as my gaming group is planning to vost the area in November coinciding with the Crisis 2015 event in Antwerp.

Alas, I must say that the book  is just okishh... at all  as engaging as I can remember when I read Stalingrad in the late 90s  or the Berlin book a few years back.

Truly the most interesting part for me was the description of the political mess between Monty, Bradley and Eiseinhower during the battle; specially Monty gets a beating from Beevor as he created unnecesary tension in the Allied Supreme HQ at a critical military moment, due to its ambition to put the American armies under his command. This brought huge embarrassment to Churchill personally, who had to come out in public supporting the Americans vs. the reading that some British newspapers were doing (in most cases with Monty behind the scene) and arguably eroded a lot of the political capital of the British to have a significant say in the Yalta summit and the organisation of the new world order post-conflict.

From the perspective of a military history aficionado I cannot say the book truly adds much new to what we already know about the battle, or at least no to me. The operation was doomed from the very beggining due to lack of realistic supply planning and although the Americans were caught wrong-footed, the tough opposition and the speed of reaction of the Allied armies were totally unexpected by the German high command. Unnecessary book in this sense.

As usual this is my personal opinion, but will rate it with just 2 stars out of 5, coming from someone who have read (I believe) almost every work published by Beevor so far... happy nonetheless to read other points of view.


  1. Hmm, just put it on my ereader for the holidays..Let's see. And good to see you are visiting Crisis this year. You won't regret it...and we will meet again then. regards, Michael

    1. Hopefully yes; we plan to stay for 5 days and visit Waterloo, Arnhem and Bastogne

  2. I agree totally with you, Benito. A great reading in the Beevor´s style, but without nothing new about the offensive. I´m going to look for a more detailed studio of the battle.

  3. Well, you've saved me a few bob there. I've ummed and ahhh'd about it for a while now and you've supported my gut instinct. Thanks!

    Not sure about the Yalta issue. I think our goose was cooked before Monty's last(?) exercise in diplomacy. We were already viewed as a decliing power and a colonial one at that, which didn't go down too well with many US politicians. Shame really as, despite his faults (and by God he had enough), Chruchill was bang on the button with many of his warnings about the lilkely post war geopolitical landscape.

  4. I haven't read this one but was disappointed by 'Berlin'. So, at least you've saved me a few quid. Thanks.

  5. Just started reading this last night in bed after having recently finished Beevor's D-Day which I enjoyed.

  6. I agree with the review - this is an OK-ish book. However it is much better than Peter Caddick Adams' book, which got more annoying and less impressive the more I read of it. I would recommend Charles B MacDonald's 'Battle of The Bulge' - he fought in the battle and the book is a pretty thorough and interesting read. A more critical account is in Max Hastings' 'Armageddon', which gives a broad overview of the Allied and German performance.Worth reading. Trevor Dupuy's 'Hitler's Last Gamble' is rather dry and at times too uncritical of US performance (particularly Hodges and to a lesser extent Bradley), but has a wealth of information on things like unit organisations and strengths, as well as an interesting comparison of the relative combat efficacy of US and German troops. The first Osprey Campaign book on the Bulge which focuses on the fighting on the northern shoulder gives a good overview with some interesting double page maps of key clashes - just don't get the Kindle version which cuts these up so badly they are all but unusable. Finally, if you are thinking of touring, have a look at the Rapid Fire website which has a couple of articles with photos of the authors' visit to parts of the battlefields of the Bulge - gives plenty of good ideas for sites to visit.