by Brooke S. Blades
Yet another book in the excellent series of Images of War. This one is rather bulky, with over 250 pages ! It shows the story of the US Forces from the end of 1944, through the Battle of the Bulge (the German Ardennes offensive), and then on through the various operations and battles leading to the end of the (European) war in May 1945.
Although I like the book, there is a ‘but’.
I truly enjoyed the first two chapters, The Winter Offensive and The Ardenne’s Winter. Plenty of good photographs, and a map. The story that each chapter starts with is well written, concise and provides a clear overview of what happened from the moment the allied progress was stalled by the winter. In the second chapter it continues with the German Ardennes offensive, that we now all know as the Battle of the Bulge. The photos and captions tell the rest of the story.
These two chapters alone take up some 130 pages, HALF of the entire book.
Chapter Three is called Advance to the Rhine, and offers a view on the next stage in the war, after the Germans were driven back from the Ardennes. Not a bad chapter either, with some interesting photos as well. But……. And here’s the but…. The fourth chapter, Varsity, kind of disappointed me. Not because of the pictures, not because of the good map, but because of the slightly chaotic text. Much of this chapter has events and characters laid out in 4 or 5 lines each only. Very different from the first two chapters. I found myself reading parts 2 or 3 times to understand. It is not BAD, but quite different from the first half of the book.
The subsequent chapters are much shorter and covering the ‘Allies in Germany’ and ‘Aftermath’. Personally I think these last two chapters deserved more, compared to the first half of the book.
So to me this is a most interesting book, but I think I would have preferred a more equal spread of the chapters OR even a separate book covering just the period AFTER the Ardennes Offensive. The way it is now, it feels as if the second half is somehow of less depth. Maybe because this period is just too large to cover in the same way as the Battle of the Bulge.
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Published: 15th January 2020