This book is one of the most disappointing military histories that I've ever come across. This came as a surprise, since the author's previous work had been impressive. This effort, however, is profoundly flawed. First, there are no maps, not a single one, provided. It is difficult to imagine why even the most simple maps would have been omitted. I was reduced to having to use a military atlas in order to follow the narrative. To a general reader, without access to this nor familiarity with the geography of the Eastern Front, the absence of maps would make the book utterly indecipherable. Second, the book is organized in an extremely cumbersome manner. The author elects to tell the complete story of the German attack on the southern shoulder of the bulge, before even beginning to relate events on the northern shoulder. This leads to the reader being led "back in time" and is both disorienting and unnecessary. Since the Soviets viewed the battle as a unitary whole, and the German objectives were cenetered upon the link up of the northern and southern attack forces, there appears to be no purpose served by this clunky organization. Besides, by the time the reader has waded through the narrative morass of the author's prose, one is too intellectually exhausted to care about his superficial rendering of events in the north. Third, the author's writing style is dry and repetitive. His wild overuse of the word "probably" in reference to as yet undocumentable events is enormously distracting. At no point does he develop the character, nor explore the personalities of the field commanders involved on either side. We get no sense of Model's doomed fatalism, nor Rotmistrov's profligate expenditure of tanks. Even the elite units of both sides come off as dull and uninteresting. I have a huge pet peeve regarding his decision to "Americanize" Waffen SS division titles. For nearly a decade, it has been common to refer to these divisions by their original German honorific titles. For example, the 1st SS Panzer Division is typically called the "Leibstandarte", the 2nd is called "Das Reich" and the 3rd "Totenkopf". When the author refers to them as The Adolf Hitler Division, The Reich Division and The Death's Head Division repectively, I was reduced to grinding my teeth. Finally, and perhaps most important, the book offers no new insights other than the fact that tank recovery efforts, by both sides, probably reduced the actual number of tanks destroyed to a level much lower than had previously been believed. Big deal. With so many other groundbreaking works being published about the Eastern Front, the reader is advised to invest his money more prudently that I did when I bought this turkey.
I just read three reviews about a book about the greatest battle of the second world war and they are right in spades. What a dud.... No maps, no personality, not even the mention of Lucy the most secret spy ring of the war. Thank God for Robin Cross