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I will admit I wasn't sure how good this book would be before I read it I had previously read Overlord by Max Hastings and found it to be slow and at times, boring I am very pleased to report this book is so much better.Hastings weaves together a chronicle of the of Third Reich's last days, starting with events leading up to Operation Market Garden and continuing through the fall of Berlin and parts of the Allied occupation Along the way he uses personal recollections from German, Russian, American and British Commonwealth soldiers, along with those of civilians who were caught up in the brutal events leading up to Germany's defeat In my opinion, this is what makes this book shinethe personal words of those who were there Gritty, unvarnished, tragic, at times humorous, andoften than not just incredibly compelling reading.The leadership of the Americans, British, Germans and Russians are all examined Virtually no one escapes criticism, but praise is given in equal doses Some generals get a bitharsher treatment than others, and I think it was all deserved, whether it's Montgomery's poor planning for Market Garden, Zhukov's strategy of taking Berlin before anyone else could claim the glory, or Patton's failed rescue attempt at Hammelburg.This book is a mustread for anyone interested in the last days of the Third Reich Well done! Many excellent reviews I would only add that readers of any nationality involved in this final campaign of WW2 in Europe might have feelings of pride, embarrassment and shame! I had my 13th birthday in January 1945 and followed the printed news Now it seems like a different war to our readings today! Very different approach to the history of World War II, as it is presented through the antidotes of participants both military and civilian Like all large volumes, it cannot cover everything in this last year of the war, but offers teasers that make the reader realize that they didn't know about something that was covered and took a lesser space in another history I know I will be looking for an in depth book on that last year in East Prussia, the winter of blood and ice.This was one of the first books that hinted at the weaknesses of both the American Commanders and the lack of training of the average American ground force, who prevailed not because of grand strategies, but but sheer numbers as they timidly advanced across Europe.It was the first time that I became aware of the number of American troops that just abandoned battle, and melted into the European countryside.a luxury that soldiers and Marines in the South Pacific did not have as an option, nor was it an option in Korea or Vietnam or our wars in the Middle East It was not an option for the Russian soldiers either as deserters were treated harshly, and the choice was to die fighting or die shirking with a minimal chance of survival and no real R R, no trips to refresh your spirits.The brutality of the last year of the war was astounding for those on the Eastern Front, especially for civilians This text brought interesting perspectives, and for that alone it was a good read. Max Hastings is one of the premier historians of the Second World War Unlike Stephen Ambrose, who , while a very readable historian even knowing whom to plagarize () is as much a cheerleader as historian, Hastings presents objective analysis It's fortuitous that he also happens to be a very good writer.Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 19441945 follows his Overlord DDay and the Battle for Normandy Hastings succeeds in explaining why the Germans fought so tenaciously even after the war was obviously lost Within ten weeks after the landings at Normandy, the allies were at the Rhine The Russians, without whom we could never have defeated Hitler, were pressing hard on the eastern front.Hastings portrays the Wehrmacht as one of the premier armies of the world and also one of the most vicious in its treatment of civilians We tend to forget the enormous casualties suffered in WW II that make WW I look like a walk in the park The Russians alone, according to some estimates, suffered some forty million deaths (of course, Stalin was responsible for many of them through vicious reprisals and substantial incompetence.)Hastings presents a convincing case that poor training of allied troops and less than inspired generalship by Montgomery and Eisenhower prolonged the war, which should have ended, her argues, by the end of 1944 [A book I recently finished reading, [book:Company Commander The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II|182134], notes that George Marshall deliberately kept the numbers of troops down so as to allocateresources to materiel production and naval and air resources.] The Red Army, while havingspectacular leadership, suffered from its callous treatment of its own troops They responded with savagery against the occupied countries Thedemocratic countries' armies were substantiallyhumane Americans never saw the Germans as the inhuman barbarians they considered the Japanese to be but relied on the advances of the Russians to tie down German SS units on the east which otherwise would have been used against the allies.Democracies tend to becautious in war, having to be concerned with casualties Hastings notes that the Red Army and Germans had no such concern and could be muchprofligate with their armies.On the other hand, Germans fighting to the bitter end, for whatever reason, be it indoctrination or saving Europe from the Asiatic hordes, meant that they hadtime to kill Jews Almost 500,000 Jews were shipped to concentration camps from Hungary in mid1944.A fascinating book. This book was seriously overrated I read a few reviews before deciding to read it that considered it one of the best books of the year There are, to be sure, some interesting points The author points out how reluctant western allied soldiers were, and the emphasis on the fragility of the AngloAmerican alliance was pretty interesting But these are points that did not take about 500 pages to make Indeed, aside from a few really gripping chapters (e.g., on the allied air war), the book was simply longwinded and repetitive This was compounded by the author's incessant moralizing ( on this below) and the pedantic description of military details Way too many dry passages about the minutia of military manouevers that really remind one of the history channel narration It's not clear to me what detailed accounts of ammunition counts had to add, and the author seemedintent on getting recollections of soldiers in print than on really giving the reader a feel for the battle scene.I also found the book to be unduly harsh on the Soviet Union The author repeatedly laments how the allies let Eastern Europe fall under Stalin's tyranny, and how Zhukov and his ilk were really quite horrific people Fair enough, but in other areas the author let's his biases shine through For instance, the author goes to considerable length repeatedly documenting how the Soviet Union singularly betrayed hopes for democracy in Poland, but utterly neglects how the American/British imposed military junta of Greece for instance violently persecuted labor unionists, communists and socialists there There were also several potentially interesting story lines the author just leaves dangling He gives nothan a passing reference to some of the institutional racism that operated within the American presence in Europe He sites the astounding statistic that something like 40% of death penalty cases the US military handled against their own soldiers were against African Americans, but this only mentioned in passing Another example of what I see as a missed opportunity of sorts is the author's alltoo brief mention of nonGerman SS units If the central question of the book is why Germany fought a doomed struggle so doggedly, the question of how those nonGermans came to see the war, and how they dealt with repatriation, would seem insightful Perhaps there just weren't enough eyewitness accounts.In conclusion, I found this book disappointing The author asks an interesting question and is upfront that a lot of what they have to say isn't particularly novel But between the antiSoviet preaching and the tedious discussions of military detail, I found that even the author's pretty good writing abilities couldn't salvage what became and unwieldy and needlessly drawnout project. read it, went back to the beginning, read it again pretty splendid. |Download Book ♫ Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944 1945 ⚆ In September , the Allies believed that Hitler’s army was beaten and expected the bloodshed to end by Christmas Yet a series of mistakes and setbacks, including the Battle of the Bulge, drastically altered this timetable and led to eight months of brutal fighting With Armageddon, the eminent military historian Max Hastings gives us memorable accounts of the great battles and captures their human impact on soldiers and civilians He tells the story of both the Eastern and Western Fronts, raising provocative questions and offering vivid portraits of the great leaders This rousing and revelatory chronicle brings to life the crucial final months of the twentieth century’s greatest global conflict This is among the very best books about WWII, if not the best, I have read A, I believe, must read for anyone with interest in WWII. I like Hastings writing One thing about this book is the countless vignettes covering everything from Bradley’s distain for Monty to Hitler’s former bodyguard’s experience at the fall to a Red Army rifleman’s disgust with his countrymen’s behavior in Germany and everything in between, including civilians stories Recommend. In 1984 this British journalist wrote a book on the 1944 landing in Normandy and the subsequent Allied invasion of Nazioccupied France This book takes off where that one ends, in September 1944, and goes on until May 1945; during this period, Germany fought a war on two fronts It has chapters on the illplanned Operation Market Garden, the Warsaw Rising (which General Anders thought was madness), the Soviet conquest of East Prussia (a German woman told Hastings, It was our Holocaust, but nobody cares), the hungry winter of 19441945 in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge, and so on until the German surrender The overall story is familiar to all educated people (but not to everyone, of course; Peter Novick's book on the Holocaust in American life cites the results of some poll where only 49% Americans knew that the Soviet Union fought on the same side as their country in World War II; I wonder ifor fewer modernday Russians are aware that the United States fought on the same side as their country in World War II), but Hastings gives a lot of detail Hastings is full of admiration for the Red Army, both ordinary soldiers and the generals, who he says wereskilled and showedinitiative than their Western Allied counterparts; he thinks that if Zhukov were in Eisenhower's shoes, he would have pursued the Germans after the failure of their Ardennes offensive instead of allowing them to escape and regroup I used to work with an applied mathematician who was the oldest grandson of an American World War II hero; he once asked me, what I thought of Patton's idea of pushing the Russians out of Europe after having pushed away the Germans I answered that it would have been unfair, not to mention politically infeasible; if Hastings is right, Patton would not have stood a chance because the Red Army of 19441945 fought better than Western Allied armies, and German soldiers considered it a relief to be transferred to the Western front.Many ordinary people, both soldiers in all the armies and German civilians, get a chance to tell their story in Hasting's book The most extraordinary one comes from a fighter pilot named Mikhail Devyataev, who was shot down over Germany in July 1944 and as a POW was sent to the slave labor camp in the German rocket center at Peenemünde In February 1945 he and nine other prisoners commandeered the camp commandant's Heinkel plane and escaped by flying over the Baltic Sea When they landed at the front and were discovered by a Red Army patrol, the NKVD didn't believe their story The nine other former prisoners were sent to the penal battalions, where five of them died advancing into German minefields; Devyataev himself was imprisoned, and was only released a year later As a former POW, Devyataev could not find a proper job; only in 1957 was his achievement recognized and he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union The endnote says, AI Mikhail Devyataev [presumably, author's interview?] Now, popular Russian historian Igor Pykhalov says that some unnamed contemporary Russian media outlets claim that Devyataev was in the Gulag and was only released after Stalin's death; this is not so, objects Pykhalov; in Devyataev's own book Escape from Hell he says that he had never been imprisoned by the Soviets Either Devyataev told one thing to Hastings and wrote something else in his book, or Hastings lied about what Devyataev told him, or Pykhalov lied about what Devyataev wrote in his book.