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4.2 out of 5 stars30
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 4 October 2014
The majority of this book is spent on the people involved rather than the actual 'battle' itself. Whilst I understand and like to know who and what was involved there is just too much detail regarding the history of the people involved. The actual battle description seems to be an after thought. Disappointed.
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on 26 March 2014
A good historical account. Not quite what the hype suggested, the actual battle is only a small part of the book! Would I have bought it if I had known, yes, but if you are just looking for a good action read much of this book will leave you feeling let down!
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Thirty years ago, I stayed in the village of Itter on several occasions on skiing trips.

Over a period of time, I began to hear about the events that had taken place at Schloss Itter, but was never properly able to unearth the complete details, even though I knew the local terrain, which served as a backcloth for the happenings described in The Last Battle. I can also recall a landlord of a Gasthof in Salzburg recalling his own personal experiences of fighting alongside the Americans, but in those days before the Internet it was not so easy to fathom the precise facts.

I am therefore indebted to Stephen Harding for the thoroughness he has applied in researching this book and providing a thoroughly absorbing picture of the events and those who participated in them.
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on 23 July 2013
Who knew? German Wehrmacht, French Resistance, and GIs fight the SS in Austria. Brilliantly told, researched. Buy this book — really. Needs to be translated into French and German!
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on 1 September 2015
Firstly let me say this a great (true) story that's crying out to be made into a TV mini-series. Unfortunately (for me) too much time was spent chronicling the French captives backgrounds rather than detailing the time immediately leading up to the action described, the battle (firefight) itself and the aftermath. The last half of the book is filled with indexes and notes, fooling you into thinking the book is longer than it is.
Well researched and well written, it leaves you wanting a bit more meat on the bones...
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on 24 June 2014
this is a great historic story i would recommend it to any one who likes the unusual it is a bit heavy going to begin with though
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on 24 May 2013
I have put aside ARS stuff to read a charming little book called `The Last Battle;' it is the story of an improbable rescue of French VIPS imprisoned by the Nazis in Tyrolia in an ancient castle by a gaggle of Austrian Nazi-resisters, turncoat members of the German Army and and American Tank crew against diehard SS troops given the assignment of killing the VIPS. This occurred in the interregnum between Hitler's death and the first week in May before the official surrender. The writing is crisp and the depictions very well done even though the book was written some 68 years after the event. The book has no socially redeeming virtues; it is just a good story, well told, of people trying to survive a world little of their making. The French VIPs didn't really deserve rescue, but they are not the focus of the story anyway.
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on 16 January 2014
I was really excited to read this interesting-looking book after getting it for Christmas. Just my kind of thing: crazy true stories of warfare you'd usually expect in a movie. Unfortunately, if the book were a 90min movie, the action doesn't start until the 70th minute and lasts only 12 minutes. In fact, for a book about a battle, called The Last Battle, it's almost a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act!

The initial setting up of places and characters takes up the first three-quarters of the book before we even get to the assault on the castle, convincing me the author found an intriguing brief tale of enemies coming together, then, on realisation it wasn't enough to fill a book, padded it with chapter after chapter after chapter of needless, and ultimately boring, character histories of the VIP POWs. Why we need to know so much about these people who appear as little more than a footnote during the actual battle is beyond me.

I don't think it's a poorly-written book per se, but it's definitely a poorly-constructed book with way too much emphasis on background than on what must be many people's sole reason for buying it - the battle! But even then, what we are told of the "battle"/"assault"/"skirmish", call it what you will, isn't even exciting. It's told in way too many broad strokes, with little emphasis on people or the immediate danger they are in, and the battle itself peters out into non-existence like an early morning mist - no tension, no peril, no humanity.

As an aside, I'm sure The Last Battle could make an exciting movie, but it would need a very creative screenwriter to transform just 25 pages of action (from a 173pg story) into something a cinema audience would be prepared to sit through for two hours. The author probably wrote it with the hope of attracting a film deal, but even if he gets one, I'm sure what he ultimately sees on-screen will bear little resemblance to the stagnant essay he wrote.

An extremely disappointing read which I'm glad I didn't pay for myself.
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on 25 June 2015
I found the backstory to the main event (the actual battle at Castle Itter) very readable and was intrigued by the relationship struggles of the various French VIPs. Of course, the description of the actual battle itself extremely detailed and Mr. Harding did a nice job of describing it from various points of defence.
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on 22 June 2015
Loved the book and its story of juxtapositions. The following through of post war endings was a good touch. I would have given this 5 stars but it was missing one important aspect: no background to the SS units, and their story at the battle. I will look forward to reading this again.
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