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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 Paperback – 3 Jun 2014
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"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...Harding has brought the implausible story to life."
--San Diego Union-Tribune
"Well done and eminently readable."
--New York Journal of Books
"[Harding] turns a footnote into a major drama with the story of how American tankers and German prison guards fought a Nazi unit to save French VIPs from execution."
--Military Hisotry Quarterly
"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...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."
"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."
"A finale worthy of Hollywood."
--WWII History Magazine
"One of the most bizarre and fascinating tales to come out of World War II."
"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."
"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."
"Harding recounts a fascinating piece of World War II history...An engaging story about a battle that helped save many of France's political elite from certain death."
From Military History magazine's editor-in-chief, Stephen Harding, The Last Battle tells the unlikely but true story of the last World War II battle fought by American troops in Europe, when U.S. Army regulars and Wehrmacht soldiers fought side by side to protect a castle full of French VIP prisoners from an attack by desperate and fanatical SS units bent on killing them in the war's waning days.See all Product description
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The book is worth a read for an insight into pre-WWII French politicians and the intricacies of the fate of a very minor part of the Third Reich; just don't expect much action. I suspect that the author was after a film deal, but there's not enough material here for a decent script, let alone something of interest to a producer.
As noted in the newspaper review excerpts on the cover, this is a story begging to be turned into a blockbuster film. A very readable book indeed.
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.
Well researched and well written, it leaves you wanting a bit more meat on the bones...
Final action scenes are interesting but not particularly exciting and came to an abrupt, predictable conclusion.