I found myself in a love-hate relationship with this book almost from the first page. I would recommend it more as a reference for those already thoroughly familiar with the Battle of the Bulge than as an introduction. (Some personal background: Growing up, my best friend's father arrived in Europe on D-Day +2 and participated in the Battle of the Bulge as part of Patton's Third Army. He was an artilleryman who engaged Tiger Tanks with direct fire from 8" self-propelled howitzers. This book resonates with his recollections.)
The bad. As painful as I find it to do this, let me dispose of my criticisms first:
The biggest problem with the book is a lack of organization and coherence. It is difficult to follow, with facts thrown in without context. This is exacerbated by a lack of continuity between the text and the illustrations, especially the maps. I often would struggle, in vain, to find a town or unit referenced in the text on a map in the same chapter. Many maps don't even indicate the location of Bastogne, much less St. Vith. In many places in this book, I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
The editing seems to be non-existent, the book is riddled with cringe-inducing malapropisms which only amplify the effects of disorganization. There are other gaffes, like repeated words ("the the") and the like which betray a lack of proofreading.
Some nits: Partially translated German unit names, zum Beispiel "Sixth Panzer Armee". (Italicized in the original.) I suppose it's OK to translate ordinal numbers and leave the rest in the original German. He follows some kind of convention where, apparently, ISS Panzer Division is [Roman] First S.S. Panzer Division, IISS Panzer Division is [Roman] Second S.S. Panzer Division. Be prepared. He also seems to follow the convention of designating German units in italics and Allied units in plain text. This can be useful to know, because when suddenly the XIX Armor Regiment clashes with the 454th Infantry Battalion, it is not at all clear what side either one is on, otherwise.
He also states that German soldiers nicknamed the Sherman tank "Ronson" because of it's propensity to catch on fire. Actually, I thought GIs called it the Ronson because of Ronson lighter's advertising slogan, "Lights the first time, everytime." (The relatively lightly armored Sherman was gasoline, as opposed to diesel, fueled.)
One annoying issue is the lack is citations to original sources. This book is good historiography in the sense that Mr. Parker clearly is drawing on original sources rather than merely regurgitating the works of other historians. Future historians would have benefited if he had left a record to trace more of the material to these sources.
The good. And there is lots of it:
Historical accuracy. Although I am no expert on World War II or the Battle of the Bulge, it is hard to read any popular history of these events that does not contain some outright misstatements, or exaggerations or misconceptions. I found very little of this in this account, save for the "Ronson" exception, cited above. This book has shaped my view of the events in large part because I trust the author's judgment and knowledge.
Illustrations and photographs. Tons and tons of them. Usually with informative captions.
Some chapters read like stand alone articles. These are often the best written and most enjoyable sections of the book. Two chapters are reprints of articles that appeared in popular periodicals and are free of the editorial shortcomings cited above. One in particular, "Operation Stoesser: The Last German Parachute Operation" is outstanding. The chapter titled "Skorzeny's Commandos" falls into this category as well. He does an excellent job of correcting a lot of nonsense and misunderstanding of the role and success of English speaking German commandos who attempted, with limited success, to infiltrate U.S. lines.
The author's description of small unit engagements, the tactics employed and the weapons give a feel and intimacy that few historians can match. It is at the human level, the level of the foot soldier that this book truly resonates. He also reinforces an appreciation of the decisive role of artillery in World War II combat.
The overarching role of logistics in determining the outcome of modern combat is also made clear. (Amateurs talk about tactics and strategy, professionals of logistics.) In some ways, he slights the role of Allied air power, which, while it could not deliver the tonnage that the artillery did, was vital in disrupting German resupply and transport, thereby shifting the uneven logistics battle even more to the side of the Allies.
In summary, read this book for an appreciation of the Battle of the Bulge on the retail level, especially the prospective of the foot soldier once you are already familiar with the overall story of the battle.