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The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe Hardcover – May 7, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 744 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


New York Journal of Books, 4/29/13
“Well done and eminently readable.”

Daily Beast, 5/12/13
“The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding's The Last Battle, a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasn't been told before in English, and that it hasn't already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movie…Steven Spielberg, how did you miss this story?...Harding is a respected military affairs expert…and his writing style carries immediacy as well as authority…Everything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at once…While the book concentrates on the fight for Castle Itter, it also sets that battle in the wider strategic contexts…This book is thus a fascinating microcosm of a nation and society in collapse…Part Where Eagles Dare, part Guns of Navarone, this story is as exciting as it is far-fetched, but unlike in those iconic war movies, every word of The Last Battle is true.”

Roanoke Times, 6/9/13
“If, in these halcyon days, a Hollywood screenwriter had approached a major producer with a movie script so packed with improbabilities, so extraordinary in its premises and fanciful in its conclusions, he — the screenwriter — would very likely have been shown the door….sheer tension and melodrama…Stephen Harding, a career journalist and military historian, has put together a fine tale of heroism and cowardice, petty bickering and unselfish sacrifice, and if Hollywood does not snap it up for an epic film, that's its loss….A page-turner.”

ARMY Magazine, 9/1/13
“The book is a very quick read…The Last Battle has the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster… Harding is a gifted storyteller and effective military historian who details the battle and its background with precision…This compact work is an unqualified success and will prove immensely enjoyable for virtually any reader of ARMY.  With the pace of a tightly-written novel, Harding writes with the determination of a true crime novelist and thoroughness of a first-rate historian.”

CollectedMiscellany.com, 8/15/13
“Harding recounts a fascinating piece of World War II history…Harding writes an engaging story about a battle that helped save many of France's political elite from certain death.”

Advance praise for The Last Battle

Rick Atkinson, author of The Day of Battle
“A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. The Last Battle demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told.”

Alan Furst, bestselling author of Dark Star andNight Soldiers
“Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, he's a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of The Last Battle, one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated.”

Alex Kershaw, bestselling author of The Liberator
“A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life.”

Patrick K. O'Donnell, bestselling author of Dog Company
“I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. The Last Battle is such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down.”

John C. McManus, author of September Hope
The Last Battle combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War II's final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too.”

Peter Carlson, author of K Blows Top
“The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, you'll have to read The Last Battle to find out what happened. It's going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!”

San Diego Union Tribune, 4/28/13
“At the heart of The Last Battle is a largely unknown story that (a) seems implausible, (b) would make a great movie, and (c) reminds us that almost 70 years after the end of World War II there are countless tales still to be told…Harding's skills as a researcher and dedicated historian are apparent…[A] moment-by-moment real-time report of the events from the viewpoints of the Americans and prisoners…Page-turning…Harding has brought the implausible story to life.”

About the Author

As a journalist specializing in military affairs, Stephen Harding has reported from Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Iraq. Currently senior editor at Military History magazine, he lives in Virginia.

Product details

  • Publisher : Da Capo Press; First Da Capo Press Edition (May 7, 2013)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0306822083
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0306822087
  • Item Weight : 15.6 ounces
  • Dimensions : 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 744 ratings

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
744 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2018
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25 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2018
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13 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2017
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23 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

T. Banks
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story and a very readable book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 28, 2016
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3 people found this helpful
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3.0 out of 5 stars Falls strangely flat at the last
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 20, 2018
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Thomas A. Regelski
3.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about very little
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 2, 2018
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Andrew McCann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Researched Account of an Absorbing True Event
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2015
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2 people found this helpful
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A veteran with no airs and graces.
5.0 out of 5 stars Real heroes.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 5, 2019
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