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Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 Paperback – October 18, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This huge and splendid volume tells the grim tale of the final collapse of the Third Reich. It does so from the viewpoints of the upper millstone (the Western Allies), the lower millstone (the Russians) and the grain being ground in between (the Germans). The research includes previously untapped Russian archives (particularly in the accounts of Soviet veterans) and leads to a gripping and horrifying story that serious students of military history will find almost impossible to put down. The blunders recounted are numerous, from the Allied failure to open Antwerp in the fall of 1944 to the Russian frontal assault on Berlin, and the Wehrmacht is depicted as the best army of the war and also the most atrocious in its treatment of civilians. Indeed, the treatment of civilians is a major theme, since they were slaughtered on a scale unheard of since the Thirty Years' War, and not only the Nazi camp inmates but also the inhabitants of Poland and East Prussia were numbered among the victims. The author hands out praise and blame with his usual edged aplomb (Anglophile readers may be happy to see a partial rehabilitation of Montgomery) and willingness to engender controversy, and also with his usual thorough research and clear writing (along with 24 pages of photos) to sustain every case he makes. His book ranks among the very best military history volumes of the year.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Drawing on untapped Russian archives, Hastings (a former war correspondent and leading military historian) rethinks the final year of World War II in this sequel to Overlord (1984), an account of the Normandy landings. He writes with authority, technical mastery, and profound sympathy for the victims of war, particularly German civilians. Although much of this story has been told before, Hastings casts new light on the wars devastating tolls on lowly GIs, confused civilians, and commanding officers. According to a few critics, he underplays the Allied forces strategic errors and paints black-and-white portraits of both sides; he barely masks his disdain for the Anglo-Americans and admiration for the Wehrmachts professionalism. He all but ignores the war in southern Europe. But these are minor quibbles. For military buffs, Armageddon is a first-rate history.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Hasting's provides insight into the allies, their role, with, particular attention to the Red Army (eastern front) and the Wehrmacht's battling on two fronts (east and west.)
The book is not laborious, and, is reasonably well researched and informative.
For the individual who is searching for an over arching view of WW II this is a fine text, albeit, somewhat lengthy.
Max Hasting's spends minimal verbiage on well known individuals i.e. Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery, Roosevelt, Stalin, Zhukov, etc. Rather the focus is on anecdotal quotes from soldiers in the trenches which, is interesting, but difficult to validate.
The tremendous losses incurred by the Russian army, and, also the Wehrmacht is detailed and contrasted. These loss are also compared with those of Britain and the USA, which, again, is useful for one beginning a review of WW II.
The Russians are broadly painted with a rather harsh brush "for their savagery." The Wehrmacht is exemplified as "the best soldiers of WW II" which, is arguably, an accurate assessment. Britain and the USA are to some extent, relegated to secondary roles, and, when one looks at the numbers Hasting's provides, is perhaps reasonable.
The bombing of key German cities is viewed, by Hasting's, with scathing judgment. Hasting's opinions which abound in this text, are similarly expressed by numerous WW II veterans with whom I have spoken. (1)Germans were the best soldiers;(2) Russians were rather barbaric; (3) British soldiers were difficult to deal with; (4) US soldiers had a steep learning curve; (5)many German will never forgive our bombing of civilian target and destruction of those cities.
Hasting's provides data, numbers, dates, turning points and valued information as he breaks down the different army roles during WW II.
There is discussion about personality conflicts between allied command, with emphasis on the USA and Britain.
A stark contrast is presented between Stalin and utilization of the Red Army, and, Hitler's utilization of the Wehrmacht. Hasting views Stalin's and Hitler's armies as part of a "warrior culture." Whereas the British and American armies are "more humanitarian." These points are difficult to deny although, Hasting drives this to redundant exhaustion.
The book engages the reader from the outset.
Hasting provides ample evidence, as to how and why, at the end of WW II lines of demarcation were settled while dividing the spoils of war.
Also, how allied and axis army(s) were controlled, by whom, and, the consequence of this command paradigm.
Primary individuals of allied and axis forces are discussed, but, not in detail or depth. This is not a biography of individuals. If the reader is looking for such, then this book is not for you. Look elsewhere.
Max Hasting provides a point of view which does not overwhelm the reader.
Hasting discusses the amount of manpower and the economic cost each country invested in WW II.
Hasting's writes: (that)"in the end it was as though two great beast were locked in savage combat with only one possible outcome....a fight till the death."
Long entrenched social, cultural, economic, political prejudices become clear through Hasting's written word.
I often read historical books and recommend Hasting's work 'Armageddon.' With the caveat...read other better researched text as well.
This is a pleasant respite from many laborious text, wherein the writer over cites, over writes, and, at times may bore the reader.
An excellent book for one just stepping into the murky waters of history.
Hasting is not boring and 'Armageddon' is a start or early point for any person who shares an interest related to WW II.
My only criticism is that better maps could have been provided.
I am a WWII buff, and have read dozens or hundreds of books on World War II. This book is much more lucid than most, and is adding significantly to my understanding.
The only criticism I have is of the publisher, who chose a very small type font which makes it difficult to read. However, I am an old man, and am managing.
He spends particular attention on the effects of the carpet bombing of German cities, and the resultant loss of civilian life. His account of the refugee crisis in the East, as millions of ethnic Germans fled Prussia, Poland and occupied regions along the Baltic is eye-opening and stunning.
There are a few subjective judgments of his that I take issue with, however. For example, he mostly attributes the viciousness of the Soviets as a form of "payback" for the brutality of the Nazis toward occupied Russia. While certainly a factor, "payback" does not explain the equal viciousness with which the Soviets treated returned Soviet PoWs. Were returning PoWs mistreated by the Soviets because of the way the Nazis handled occupied Russia?
He also explains Eisenhower's overall interest in reducing casualties and maintaining an Allied front, and his success in doing so despite growing British and Soviet mistrust.
Putting aside the editorializing, Hastings is a master historian of the period who has delivered a crisp, well-written account of Europe's destruction at the end of this horrific war.
Hastings also provides a balanced and objective assessment of the relative performance of Generals in the battling armies as well as the armies themselves. I have read a large number of books on WWII and various battles and this book is one of the best--if not the best--that I have ever read.