Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

John C. McManus, Author . Wiley $24.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-471-73905-0

The 101st Airborne's legendary defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge hinged on small groups of outnumbered American soldiers slowing the German advance, argues McManus in this spirited account of December 16–20, 1944, before the 101st arrived. By that time, Hitler knew that stopping the Russians was hopeless, but gambled that a crushing blow to the Allies might win a negotiated peace. His plan pivoted on the capture of Bastogne in two days, with German forces moving in fast before their advantage of surprise and local superiority in forces evaporated. Hitler believed American forces would crumble at the massive onslaught—and many units did flee or surrender. But McManus (The Americans at D-Day ) makes an excellent case that victory came down to a dozen units battling against overwhelming odds until, after four days of brutal attrition, the remnants straggled into Bastogne to join the newly arrived 101st. Like all good niche military history, the book describes small unit actions in detail. Soldiers who ran away left few records, so almost everyone here fights bravely. By focusing on a less familiar period, McManus makes a modest but original contribution to the vast WWII literature. 20 b&w photos. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
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FORMATS
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-470-58102-5
Paperback - 296 pages - 978-0-451-22558-0
Open Ebook - 296 pages - 978-1-62045-964-5
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