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Battle: The Story of the Bulge Paperback – April 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews


"The perspective of 15 years, painstaking research, thousands of interviews, extensive analysis and evaluation, and the creative talent of John Toland [paint] the epic struggle on an immense canvas. . . . Toland writes with the authority of a man who was there. . . . He tastes the bitterness of defeat of those who surrendered and writes as if he had the benefit of the eyes and ears of soldiers and generals on the other side of the line. . . . If you could read only one book to understand generals and GIs and what their different wars were like this is the book."—Chicago Sunday Tribune
(Chicago Sunday Tribune )

"The author has devoted years to studying memoirs, interviewing veterans and consulting military documents, both German and American. He also has revisited the old battlefields in Belgium and Luxembourg. . . . Toland has told the whole story with dramatic realism. . . . It is a story of panic, terror and of high-hearted courage."—New York Times Book Review
(New York Times Book Review )

"For the first time in the growing literature of World War II, the inspiring story of the stubborn, lonely, dogged battle of the Americans locked in this tragic salient is told. . . . gripping . . . You cannot put it down once you start it."—San Francisco Chronicle
(San Francisco Chronicle )

About the Author

John Toland has written numerous books on World War II, including Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath. Carlo D’Este is the author of Patton: A Genius for War and other works.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; New edition edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803294379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803294370
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 131 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Toland's work on this absolutely fantastic book is simply superlative. Critical acclaim is nearly universal for this gripping, accurate, and well-told story of the greatest American victory over the Germans during WWII and the only large-scale offensive battle ever fought during the winter, the worst in Europe is some fifty years. Toland veers from the usual historian's path by telling the story in terms of the foot soldier both on the ground and on the defensive against the final counterattack of the Wehrmacht with over a thousand tanks (including many of the new tougher Tiger and Panther models) and more than 250,000 battle-hardened soldiers.
Against them were just three full strength (and very green and inexperienced) American divisions with some reserves regiments composed of more experienced soldiers in the heavily wooded and almost impassable woods of the Ardennes forest area. Eisenhower's logistics support was strung out and unable to adequately supply the broad-based front that had evolved after the initial breakout from D-Day. Consequently, it was difficult to arm and support all the troops, and amazingly, Hitler's masterful attack struck exactly at the single weakest point along the line. The result was a complete but temporary disaster, but one that pitted poorly equipped, armed, and clothed U.S. Army troops against a much larger, better armed, clothed and equipped enemy who was striking with blitzkrieg speed and effectiveness.
What happened in those woods is the stuff of history, and is commonly referred to as the Battle of the Bulge. The simple truth of the matter is that American troops simply outfought, outlasted, and outsmarted their German opponents in a deadly game of attrition and standoffs in the worst possible weather and cold conditions.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Mannie Liscum on August 8, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Toland's "Battle: The Story of the Bulge" is a wonderful piece of story telling. As I read this book about a year and a half ago (it was winter) I could literally sense all the emotions Toland conveyed to paper. His style is wonderful and despite the fact that this book was first published in the 50's, he uses the third-person narrative (told from the GI's who were actually there) - something quite fashionable in recent years - to tell much of the story. Using these stories Toland weaves a wonderful tapestry that has more than expected texture for a literary source of this genre. I found his style exceedingly easy to read and hard to put down. "Battle", while not as steeped in cold hard battle-field fact and numbers as other Bulge books, is a much better read with ample facts and told by survivors not simply a repackaging of after-reports by a historian-writer. I can't recommend this book highly enough!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David Chesterman on June 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is considered one of the four great books on the Battle of the Bulge. The others are John Eisenhower's The Bitter Woods, Hugh Cole's official US Army History: The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge and Charles B. MacDonald's A Time for Trumpets. I have read all but Hugh Cole's book and will review each of them.

Of all the books, Toland's is the most approachable for the general reader. For starters it is about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of either Eisenhower's or MacDonald's book. While Eisenhower has special emphasis on the senior leadership and MacDonald emphasizes the battle from the most junior soldier's perspective, Toland strikes a good balance between them.

Toland's book was written first in about 1959 and both Eisenhower in 1968 and MacDonald in 1984 cite his book. Toland is not only a good historian but also an excellent writer.

His book is written to show events in chronological order. One can read about the events all across the battlefield day by day.

Like all of these books, one must refer to the maps often to keep track of what was happening. The Bulge was a huge battle. It has been described as the largest battle American troops fought in based on numbers. Any of these books will require the reader to keep careful track of the events. Of all of the great Bulge books, Battle is the easiest with which to do that.

Like all the books except for a Time for Trumpets, Battle does not address the intercepts of the German Enigma communications as regards the German deception operation. This information was not released until years after the book was written. Still, Battle gives a good account of the German deception. Battle also discusses the rivalry between American generals and the British Field Marshal Montgomery.

Battle is the easiest to read of the great books on the Battle of the Bulge. Toland writes well and his research shows. He covers the senior leadership to the average solder admirably.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book is well researched.It is also a gripping account and hard to put down even though it is written in a scholarly style - reporting the facts only. The author saves his opinions and thoughts on the battle for the Epilogue which is very refreshing as you get to read the story of the battle as it really was - history - not explanations, ideas and conjecture. I have a couple of problems with the book and one is a major disappointment considering the research material that must have been available - the maps are too few, poorly illustrated and are poorly placed - they don't flow with developing battle. The second issue - for those who may need some guidance with military terms and units - a small glossary would have helped or a table of units. For instance, how many men are in a task force and what comprises a combat command brigade? It is relevant when you read that after a particular battle only a few dozen or so men were left from a particular task force. If you have no idea how many men there were to begin with the impact is lost on you. Some interesting side issues are mentioned.The author states that Eisenhower knew that German scientists had almost completed an atomic bomb and felt that maybe the Ardennes offensive was an attempt to gain time for it's completion. Another interesting case was the story of Baron Von Der Heyde - a famous German paratroop commander. He was given a special mission behind American lines in the north. What is interesting is not the mission itself but the fact that Hitler trusted Von der Heyde at all - after all he was one of the earliest members in the conspiracy against the Fuhrer and he was a cousin of Baron Von Stauffenberg - the captured leader of the plot. Hitler must have known about the Von Der Heydes connection.
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