From Publishers Weekly
The 101st Airborne's legendary defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge hinged on small groups of outnumbered American soldiers slowing the German advance, argues McManus in this spirited account of December 16–20, 1944, before the 101st arrived. By that time, Hitler knew that stopping the Russians was hopeless, but gambled that a crushing blow to the Allies might win a negotiated peace. His plan pivoted on the capture of Bastogne in two days, with German forces moving in fast before their advantage of surprise and local superiority in forces evaporated. Hitler believed American forces would crumble at the massive onslaught—and many units did flee or surrender. But McManus (The Americans at D-Day
) makes an excellent case that victory came down to a dozen units battling against overwhelming odds until, after four days of brutal attrition, the remnants straggled into Bastogne to join the newly arrived 101st. Like all good niche military history, the book describes small unit actions in detail. Soldiers who ran away left few records, so almost everyone here fights bravely. By focusing on a less familiar period, McManus makes a modest but original contribution to the vast WWII literature. 20 b&w photos. (Mar.)
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In World War II's Battle of the Bulge, the storied surrounding of American by German troops at Bastogne was preceded by a delaying action. Military historian McManus recounts this initial phase of the battle with graphic attention to the combat sustained by the American troops unfortunate enough to stand in the path of the main German offensive. Units such as the 110th Regiment (about 3,500 soldiers) were essentially destroyed, and McManus has diligently researched their surviving records to restore their significance in the larger history of the battle. He pulls the information together in relating, at a detail scale of individual soldiers and tanks, the fighting that accumulated into the punishment meted out to the 110th Regiment. Departing its trauma with the capture of its commanding colonel, McManus examines the ensuing course of the retreat--resistance on the perimeter of Bastogne by hastily assembled American forces. McManus' intent focus may finely tune his appeal, yet the Bulge at large is a perennially popular topic with the WWII readership. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved