From the bestselling author of Stalingrad, Berlin and D-Day comes the story of the German’s ill-fated final stand.
‘Rich in detail and drama. Enthralling’ Mail on Sunday
On 16 December, 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back.
The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters which slowed the German advance.
The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front. And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle which finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.
‘If you’re a fan of Beevor’s work, find some space on your bookshelf for this one. If you’ve never read him before, start here and work your way back – it’s history nerd heaven!’ History of War Magazine
‘Beevor weaves a brilliant narrative out of all this drama. As in his previous books, his gifts are strongest in focusing on telling details from different perspectives . . . A vital historical insight’ Sunday Times
‘A sweeping, sobering read, written with all the confidence and aplomb that Beevor fans would expect. Beevor is as good on the rows behind the front lines as he is on the battles themselves’ Independent