Top positive review
82 people found this helpful
Terrific, Entertaining Look At Allied Drive Into Germany
on August 1, 2000
No one has been more prolific or entertaining in his efforts to bring the gritty, unit-level personal experiences of the Allied drive from Normandy into Germany to the public's attention than Stephen Ambrose. In his series of books including "D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War Two", "Band Of Brothers", "The Victors", and "Citizen Soldiers", he has masterfully employed a little-known treasure trove of personal interviews with thousands of Allied soldiers to marshal an absolutely absorbing, captivating, and insightful treatise on the nature of combat as experienced by the men and women in the forefront of action as it transpired all along the front.
In this volume he concentrates on the drive from Normandy all the way into the heart of Germany, and covering as much ground as the Allies conquered in that fateful year is a considerable accomplishment. This makes for fascinating and entertaining reading. A great deal of ground is covered, from the consolidation of the beachheads in Normandy to the relatively quick liberation of Paris, from the ill-fated Operation Market-Garden assault into Holland in September to the disastrous bloodbath in Omar Bradley's catastrophic excursion into the Hurtigen Forest, from the desperate clashes around Bastogne in the wintry Battle of the Bulge to the long, costly drive that unusually cold and snowy winter into Germany itself. As a result, we don't find the level of detail or strict chronology he employed in "D-Day", for example, or the kind of comprehensive coverage of specific events like the Battle of the Bulge that one finds in books like John Toland's "Battle".
This does not mean one doesn't learn a great deal about all these events transpiring during that fateful year; on the contrary, there is much in the way of provocative information and startling perspective offered here on each of these events. Yet it is unfair to expect a book addressing itself to the totality of the Allied campaign to do so comprehensively in less than 500 pages. Certainly anyone reading the corpus of all the Ambrose works on the year 1944-45 as is represented by the books mentioned above gets a very comprehensive feel for the progress of the war effort in Europe. Still, to gain the kind of comprehensive and strictly chronological information a complete history requires, one must look elsewhere, to tomes such as "A World At Arms", or "A War To Be Won", or even the comfortable, veritable, and well-worn "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich", my own personal favorite.
Mr. Ambrose has become a virtual cottage industry in the World War Two section of your local bookstore, while he has also published works such as his recent best seller on explorers Lewis and Clark. Meanwhile, he has become phenomenally successful because many of his books have captured the public's imagination by being so readable, entertaining, and informative. While popular success doesn't always equate to critical worthiness, in his case it consistently seems to. This is a wonderfully worthwhile, eminently researched, exhaustively documented, and superbly narrated book on the most critical last year of the war in Europe. Enjoy!