- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471739057
- ISBN-13: 978-0471739050
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible 1st Edition
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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 Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
The central characters in "Alamo in the Ardennes" are the combat soldiers of the 28th ('Bloodybucket') Infantry Division, Combat Command Reserve (CCR) of the 9th Armored Division, and Combat Command B (CCB) of the 10th Armored Division. While McManus also integrates information about coordinated actions with smaller unit of the 101st Airborne, most of story is focused on the aforementioned units and their variously attached commands. Topographically the story revolves not so much around Bastogne but the so called 'Bastogne corridor', which McManus defines as roughly the 25 mile front held by the 28th before the German attack - approximately from Lutzkampen on the north to Bettendorf and Reisdorf in the south. This area was extremely important from a tactical standpoint relative to the movement of armored and vehicular traffic, as the roads running west in this region are some of the best in the Ardennes and Eiffel; certainly the quickest and most direct route to Bastogne lead through this area. McManus in now way minimizes actions in other regions of the Ardennes (e.g., northern shoulder actions) or the siege of Bastogne itself, but rather presents a compelling and exciting story that focuses on men and places cites above.
In general the book follows a chronological format, which works well to tell the story McManus wishes to convey. He begins the formal discussion of events with some chronologically mixed views of the Ardennes and actions on the Allied side prior to, and during, the initial German attack phases. This 'preface' chapter places the whole of the "Bastogne corridor' in nice perspective relative to the larger Battle of the Bulge. With the exception of the final 'Postscript' (conclusionary/summary) chapter, McManus devotes each chapter to a single day of action, beginning with 15 December and ending with the 20th, when the formal siege of Bastogne. In chaptering his book in this fashion McManus is able to pull the reader along the events as they unfolded. On a less positive note, focusing material along chronological lines rather than unit or geographical lines makes for often 'choppy' prose that one has to 'think' about a bit sometimes. This criticism could have been lessened considerably had the excellent maps McManus provides been cross-referenced within the text and a greater effort at sectioning within chapters been made. Yet, these are not fatal flaws and the book still conveys an important story in a readable form, that while not necessary impossible to put down, is nonetheless compelling.
In addition to the chapters outlined above McManus also provides ~20 pages of abbreviated TO/OB, personnel and map information that many readers will find useful. McManus' 'Notes' section of the book is extremely thorough and detailed. The one criticism that this reviewer would however have would be that the Notes are not cited in a very useful fashion in the text proper. Large sections of prose with multiple (oft disconnected) references/citations are generally clumped together as single footnotes, making backtracking of McManus' research very difficult. Of course this is a minor criticism unless someone is trying to delve deeper into the topic, in which case this approach will certainly cause some anxiety.
All in all "Alamo in the Ardennes" is a solid and very thoroughly researched book that provides a new vision of the Battle of the Bulge, at least in terms of capturing the importance of the "Bastogne corridor' in the eventual defense of Bastogne by the 101st Airborne. 4.5 stars for academic standard, 4 for general reader accessibility - solid 4 star book.
Though many books have been written on the battle, none seem to really get it all together. Three have been written recently that don't attempt to cover the whole battle, but focus on the events surrounding smaller units, or even individual soldiers, and what the battle was like for them.
These three recent books are "Eleven Days in December", "The Longest Winter", and now "Alamo In The Ardennes. All just great books fully worthy of your time, but Alamo is a little different in that it attempts to give credit to the 28th Division for saving Bastogne, perhaps even more so than that of the 101st Airborne, the unit usually, and correctly, given most of the credit for the epic stand that broke the German offensive.
Read this excellently written book and you might tend to agree that the 28th deserves at least as much credit as the more famous 101st. You will also get probably as close as you ever will, from the written word, to underestanding what it was like for our 19 and 20 year old citizen soldiers caught in one of the most vicious battles of WW2. Were the young men of these divisions part of our greatest generation? Absolutely, they could have written that book themselves.