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The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe by [Harding, Stephen]
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The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Review

Advance praise for "The Last Battle"

"A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. "The Last Battle" demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told."--Rick Atkinson, author of "The Day of Battle"

"Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he's a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of "The Last Battle", one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated."--Alan Furst, bestselling author of "Dark Star" and "Night Soldiers"

"A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life."--Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of "The Liberator"

"I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. "The Last Battle" is such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down."--Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of "Dog Company"

""The Last Battle" combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II's final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too."--John C. McManus, author of "September Hope"

"The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you'll have to read "The Last Battle" to find out what happened. It's going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!"--Peter Carlson, author of "K Blows Top"


Advance praise for "The Last Battle"
"A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. "The Last Battle" demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told."--Rick Atkinson, author of "The Day of Battle"
"Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he's a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of "The Last Battle," one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated."--Alan Furst, bestselling author of "Dark Star" and "Night Soldiers"
"A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life."--Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of "The Liberator"
"I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. "The Last Battle" is such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down."--Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of "Dog Company"
""The Last Battle" combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II's final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too."--John C. McManus, author of "September Hope"
"The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you'll have to read "The Last Battle" to find out what happened. It's going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!"--Peter Carlson, author of "K Blows Top
""At the heart of The Last Battle is a largely unknown story that (a) seems implausible, (b) would make a great movie, and (c) reminds us that almost 70 y

Advance praise for "The Last Battle"


Rick Atkinson, author of "The Day of Battle"
"A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. "The Last Battle" demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told."


Alan Furst, bestselling author of "Dark Star" and"Night Soldiers"
"Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he's a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of "The Last Battle," one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated."


Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of "The Liberator"
"A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life."


Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of "Dog Company"
"I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. "The Last Battle" is such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down."


John C. McManus, author of "September Hope"
""The Last Battle" combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II's final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too."


Peter Carlson, author of "K Blows Top"
"The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you'll have to read "The Last Battle" to find out what happened. It's going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!"


"San Diego Union Tribune," 4/28/13


"A

Praise for "The Last Battle"
"A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. "The Last Battle" demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told."--Rick Atkinson, author of "The Day of Battle"
"Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he's a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of "The Last Battle," one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated."--Alan Furst, bestselling author of "Dark Star" and "Night Soldiers"
"A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life."--Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of "The Liberator"
"I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. "The Last Battle" is such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down."--Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of "Dog Company"
""The Last Battle" combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II's final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too."--John C. McManus, author of "September Hope"
"The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you'll have to read "The Last Battle" to find out what happened. It's going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!"--Peter Carlson, author of "K Blows Top"

"San Diego Union Tribune," 4/28/13
"At the heart of The Last Battle is a largely unknown story that (a) seems implausible, (b) would make a great movie, and (c) reminds us that almost 70 years after the end of World War II there are countless tales still to be told...Harding's skills as a researcher and dedicated historian are apparent...[A] moment-by-moment real-time report of the events from the viewpoints of the Americans and prisoners...Page-turning...Harding has brought the implausible story to life."
"New York Journal of Books," 4/29/13
"Well done and eminently readable."
"Daily Beast," 5/12/13
"The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding's "The Last Battle," a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasn't been told before in English, and that it hasn't already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movie...Steven Spielberg, how did you miss this story?...Harding is a respected military affairs expert...and his writing style carries immediacy as well as authority...Everything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at once...While the book concentrates on the fight for Castle Itter, it also sets that battle in the wider strategic contexts...This book is thus a fascinating microcosm of a nation and society in collapse...Part "Where Eagles Dare," part "Guns of Navarone," this story is as exciting as it is far-fetched, but unlike in those iconic war movies, every word of "The Last Battle" is true."
"Roanoke Times," 6/9/13
"If, in these halcyon days, a Hollywood screenwriter had approached a major producer with a movie script so packed with improbabilities, so extraordinary in its premises and fanciful in its conclusions, he -- the screenwriter -- would very likely have been shown the door....sheer tension and melodrama...Stephen Harding, a career journalist and military historian, has put together a fine tale of heroism and cowardice, petty bickering and unselfish sacrifice, and if Hollywood does not snap it up for an epic film, that's its loss....A page-turner."
"ARMY Magazine," 9/1/13
"The book is a very quick read..."The Last Battle" has the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster... Harding is a gifted storyteller and effective military historian who details the battle and its background with precision...This compact work is an unqualified success and will prove immensely enjoyable for virtually any reader of ARMY. With the pace of a tightly-written novel, Harding writes with the determination of a true crime novelist and thoroughness of a first-rate historian."
CollectedMiscellany.com, 8/15/13
"Harding recounts a fascinating piece of World War II history...Harding writes an engaging story about a battle that helped save many of France's political elite from certain death."
"On Point: The Journal of Army History," Winter 2014
""The Last Battle" provides a fascinating glimpse into a situation so bizarre and deadly that Hollywood could not have dreamed it up, though they will probably be happy to buy the movie rights...truth is stranger than fiction."
Examiner.com, 1/17/14
"One of the most bizarre and fascinating tales to come out of World War II is documented in the highly praised new book "The Last Battle.""
War History Online, 1/19/14
"The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding's "The Last Battle," a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasn't been told before in English, and that it hasn't already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movie...Everything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at once."
"Military Review,"9/1/14
"Harding does an excellent job in his research and pieces together the few available fragments to tell a story of trust, uncertainty, and moral righteousness."


Praise for "The Last Battle"
A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. "The Last Battle" demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told. Rick Atkinson, author of "The Day of Battle"
Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he s a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of "The Last Battle," one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated. Alan Furst, bestselling author of "Dark Star" and "Night Soldiers"
A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life. Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of "The Liberator"
I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. "The Last Battle" is such a compelling read, I couldn t put it down. Patrick K. O Donnell, bestselling author of "Dog Company"
"The Last Battle" combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II s final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too. John C. McManus, author of "September Hope"
The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you ll have to read "The Last Battle" to find out what happened. It s going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent! Peter Carlson, author of "K Blows Top"

"San Diego Union Tribune," 4/28/13
At the heart of The Last Battle is a largely unknown story that (a) seems implausible, (b) would make a great movie, and (c) reminds us that almost 70 years after the end of World War II there are countless tales still to be toldHarding s skills as a researcher and dedicated historian are apparent[A] moment-by-moment real-time report of the events from the viewpoints of the Americans and prisonersPage-turningHarding has brought the implausible story to life.
"New York Journal of Books," 4/29/13
Well done and eminently readable.
"Daily Beast," 5/12/13
The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding's "The Last Battle," a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasn t been told before in English, and that it hasn t already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movieSteven Spielberg, how did you miss this story?...Harding is a respected military affairs expertand his writing style carries immediacy as well as authorityEverything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at onceWhile the book concentrates on the fight for Castle Itter, it also sets that battle in the wider strategic contextsThis book is thus a fascinating microcosm of a nation and society in collapsePart "Where Eagles Dare," part "Guns of Navarone," this story is as exciting as it is far-fetched, but unlike in those iconic war movies, every word of "The Last Battle" is true.
"Roanoke Times," 6/9/13
If, in these halcyon days, a Hollywood screenwriter had approached a major producer with a movie script so packed with improbabilities, so extraordinary in its premises and fanciful in its conclusions, he the screenwriter would very likely have been shown the door.sheer tension and melodramaStephen Harding, a career journalist and military historian, has put together a fine tale of heroism and cowardice, petty bickering and unselfish sacrifice, and if Hollywood does not snap it up for an epic film, that s its loss.A page-turner.
"ARMY Magazine," 9/1/13
The book is a very quick read"The Last Battle" has the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster Harding is a gifted storyteller and effective military historian who details the battle and its background with precisionThis compact work is an unqualified success and will prove immensely enjoyable for virtually any reader of ARMY. With the pace of a tightly-written novel, Harding writes with the determination of a true crime novelist and thoroughness of a first-rate historian.
CollectedMiscellany.com, 8/15/13
Harding recounts a fascinating piece of World War II historyHarding writes an engaging story about a battle that helped save many of France s political elite from certain death.
"On Point: The Journal of Army History," Winter 2014
"The Last Battle" provides a fascinating glimpse into a situation so bizarre and deadly that Hollywood could not have dreamed it up, though they will probably be happy to buy the movie rightstruth is stranger than fiction.
Examiner.com, 1/17/14
One of the most bizarre and fascinating tales to come out of World War II is documented in the highly praised new book "The Last Battle."
War History Online, 1/19/14
The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding s "The Last Battle," a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasn t been told before in English, and that it hasn t already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movieEverything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at once.
"Military Review,"9/1/14
Harding does an excellent job in his research and pieces together the few available fragments to tell a story of trust, uncertainty, and moral righteousness.
"

About the Author

Stephen Harding is a longtime journalist specializing in military affairs. For nearly two decades he was on the staff of Soldiers, the official magazine of the US Army. Currently he is editor-in-chief of Military History magazine. The author of seven previous non-fiction books, he lives in northern Virginia.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6116 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (7 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C8X1CO0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #180,071 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First two thirds of the book is a detailed history lesson in French politics of 1940. More non fiction than fiction.
Final action scenes are interesting but not particularly exciting and came to an abrupt, predictable conclusion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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