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Battle: The Story of the Bulge [Paperback]

John Toland

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Book Description

1 May 1999
'The perspective of 15 years, painstaking research, thousands of interviews, extensive analysis and evaluation, and the creative talent of John Toland [paint] the epic struggle on an immense canvas...Toland writes with the authority of a man who was there...He tastes the bitterness of defeat of those who surrendered and writes as if he had the benefit of the eyes and ears of soldiers and generals on the other side of the line...If you could read only one book to understand generals and GIs and what their different wars were like this is the book' - "Chicago Sunday Tribune". 'The author has devoted years to studying memoirs, interviewing veterans and consulting military documents, both German and American. He also has revisited the old battlefields in Belgium and Luxembourg...Toland has told the whole story with dramatic realism...It is a story of panic, terror and of high-hearted courage' - "New York Times Book Review". 'For the first time in the growing literature of World War II, the inspiring story of the stubborn, lonely, dogged battle of the Americans locked in this tragic salient is told...gripping ...You cannot put it down once you start it' - "San Francisco Chronicle". John Toland has written numerous books on World War II, including "Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath". Carlo D'Este is the author of "Patton: A Genius for War" and other works.

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"... an exceptionally vivid account of the battle from the American perspective. Based almost entirely upon interviews with participants, Toland paints a remarkable picture of war 'at the sharp end' which has rarely been matched, and which officer cadets should find informative as well as highly readable. Without doubt, this is a recommended purchase." -- The Wish Stream, Summer 1999

About the Author

John Toland has written numerous books on World War II, including "Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath." Carlo D'Este is the author of "Patton: A Genius for War" and other works.

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First Sentence
The night of December 15, 1944, was cold and quiet along the Ardennes Front. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
106 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The SIngle Best Book About The Battle Of the Bulge! 6 July 2000
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Toland's work on this absolutely fantastic book is simply superlative. Critical acclaim is nearly universal for this gripping, accurate, and well-told story of the greatest American victory over the Germans during WWII and the only large-scale offensive battle ever fought during the winter, the worst in Europe is some fifty years. Toland veers from the usual historian's path by telling the story in terms of the foot soldier both on the ground and on the defensive against the final counterattack of the Wehrmacht with over a thousand tanks (including many of the new tougher Tiger and Panther models) and more than 250,000 battle-hardened soldiers.
Against them were just three full strength (and very green and inexperienced) American divisions with some reserves regiments composed of more experienced soldiers in the heavily wooded and almost impassable woods of the Ardennes forest area. Eisenhower's logistics support was strung out and unable to adequately supply the broad-based front that had evolved after the initial breakout from D-Day. Consequently, it was difficult to arm and support all the troops, and amazingly, Hitler's masterful attack struck exactly at the single weakest point along the line. The result was a complete but temporary disaster, but one that pitted poorly equipped, armed, and clothed U.S. Army troops against a much larger, better armed, clothed and equipped enemy who was striking with blitzkrieg speed and effectiveness.
What happened in those woods is the stuff of history, and is commonly referred to as the Battle of the Bulge. The simple truth of the matter is that American troops simply outfought, outlasted, and outsmarted their German opponents in a deadly game of attrition and standoffs in the worst possible weather and cold conditions. Those who like to say the Americans (along with the Allies) won the war largely because we simply out manned and out supplied tour opponents had better take a good look at how well we also outfought them in the Ardennes generally and at Bastogen in particular when we had none of those advantages. Outgunned, out manned, and outflanked, the Americans simply fought back with murderous ferocity and beat the Germans to a bloody pulp.
This is truly a great book; it is easily the best single volume yet published covering the Battle of the Bulge in detail. I must admit that I do also like John Eisenhower's "The Bitter Woods" and Stephen Ambrose's "Citizen Soldiers" as well. Both of these are excellent books, built neither measures up to the sheer brilliance of "Battle". So, amigo, for the one most exciting, best reading, and painfully accurate and detailed account of the single greatest successful encounter of the U.S. Army against the might of the Wehrmacht during World War Two, I recommend this book. In my humble opinion no one really has a complete WWII library without it.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable research 26 Mar 2000
By "michaeleve" - Published on Amazon.com
The book is well researched.It is also a gripping account and hard to put down even though it is written in a scholarly style - reporting the facts only. The author saves his opinions and thoughts on the battle for the Epilogue which is very refreshing as you get to read the story of the battle as it really was - history - not explanations, ideas and conjecture. I have a couple of problems with the book and one is a major disappointment considering the research material that must have been available - the maps are too few, poorly illustrated and are poorly placed - they don't flow with developing battle. The second issue - for those who may need some guidance with military terms and units - a small glossary would have helped or a table of units. For instance, how many men are in a task force and what comprises a combat command brigade? It is relevant when you read that after a particular battle only a few dozen or so men were left from a particular task force. If you have no idea how many men there were to begin with the impact is lost on you. Some interesting side issues are mentioned.The author states that Eisenhower knew that German scientists had almost completed an atomic bomb and felt that maybe the Ardennes offensive was an attempt to gain time for it's completion. Another interesting case was the story of Baron Von Der Heyde - a famous German paratroop commander. He was given a special mission behind American lines in the north. What is interesting is not the mission itself but the fact that Hitler trusted Von der Heyde at all - after all he was one of the earliest members in the conspiracy against the Fuhrer and he was a cousin of Baron Von Stauffenberg - the captured leader of the plot. Hitler must have known about the Von Der Heydes connection.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can feel the cold, hear the chaos, and taste the blood 9 Aug 2002
By Mannie Liscum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Toland's "Battle: The Story of the Bulge" is a wonderful piece of story telling. As I read this book about a year and a half ago (it was winter) I could literally sense all the emotions Toland conveyed to paper. His style is wonderful and despite the fact that this book was first published in the 50's, he uses the third-person narrative (told from the GI's who were actually there) - something quite fashionable in recent years - to tell much of the story. Using these stories Toland weaves a wonderful tapestry that has more than expected texture for a literary source of this genre. I found his style exceedingly easy to read and hard to put down. "Battle", while not as steeped in cold hard battle-field fact and numbers as other Bulge books, is a much better read with ample facts and told by survivors not simply a repackaging of after-reports by a historian-writer. I can't recommend this book highly enough!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Easiest Read of the Great Bulge Books 2 Jun 2005
By David Chesterman - Published on Amazon.com
This is considered one of the four great books on the Battle of the Bulge. The others are John Eisenhower's The Bitter Woods, Hugh Cole's official US Army History: The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge and Charles B. MacDonald's A Time for Trumpets. I have read all but Hugh Cole's book and will review each of them.

Of all the books, Toland's is the most approachable for the general reader. For starters it is about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of either Eisenhower's or MacDonald's book. While Eisenhower has special emphasis on the senior leadership and MacDonald emphasizes the battle from the most junior soldier's perspective, Toland strikes a good balance between them.

Toland's book was written first in about 1959 and both Eisenhower in 1968 and MacDonald in 1984 cite his book. Toland is not only a good historian but also an excellent writer.

His book is written to show events in chronological order. One can read about the events all across the battlefield day by day.

Like all of these books, one must refer to the maps often to keep track of what was happening. The Bulge was a huge battle. It has been described as the largest battle American troops fought in based on numbers. Any of these books will require the reader to keep careful track of the events. Of all of the great Bulge books, Battle is the easiest with which to do that.

Like all the books except for a Time for Trumpets, Battle does not address the intercepts of the German Enigma communications as regards the German deception operation. This information was not released until years after the book was written. Still, Battle gives a good account of the German deception. Battle also discusses the rivalry between American generals and the British Field Marshal Montgomery.

Battle is the easiest to read of the great books on the Battle of the Bulge. Toland writes well and his research shows. He covers the senior leadership to the average solder admirably.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First and Still the Best 28 Dec 1999
By Kevin R. Austra - Published on Amazon.com
John Toland labored to bring his book to publication. Next to Merriam's "Dark December," Toland's account was really the first book to take on the Battle of the Bulge in a manner that was enjoyable to read, while at the same time being informative.

The Battle of the Bulge is much more complex than the 1965 movie (of the same name) would have have a viewer believe. As with most major military engagements since the mid 1800's, "battle" is a classification that has become generalized. In the Battle of the Bulge, for example, you have dozens of individual battles comprising a larger campaign. As a youngster, Toland's book (albeit, the abridged Toland edition in the kid's section of the library) dispelled many of the myths I had about this great offensive. In fact, the first time I leafed through the book I searched for events portrayed in the 1965 movie. After reading the book I came away a little wiser. Years later I was finally able to procure a copy of the full version of the book.

Toland approaches segments the battle by date and zone and successfully ties them all together. This book is a mandatory starting point for anyone who endeavors to learn about Hitler's Ardennes offensive.
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