ARMAGEDDON: The Battle for Germany 1944–1945

Max Hastings, Sir, Author . Knopf $30 (640p) ISBN 978-0-375-41433-6

This huge and splendid volume tells the grim tale of the final collapse of the Third Reich. It does so from the viewpoints of the upper millstone (the Western Allies), the lower millstone (the Russians) and the grain being ground in between (the Germans). The research includes previously untapped Russian archives (particularly in the accounts of Soviet veterans) and leads to a gripping and horrifying story that serious students of military history will find almost impossible to put down. The blunders recounted are numerous, from the Allied failure to open Antwerp in the fall of 1944 to the Russian frontal assault on Berlin, and the Wehrmacht is depicted as the best army of the war and also the most atrocious in its treatment of civilians. Indeed, the treatment of civilians is a major theme, since they were slaughtered on a scale unheard of since the Thirty Years' War, and not only the Nazi camp inmates but also the inhabitants of Poland and East Prussia were numbered among the victims. The author hands out praise and blame with his usual edged aplomb (Anglophile readers may be happy to see a partial rehabilitation of Montgomery) and willingness to engender controversy, and also with his usual thorough research and clear writing (along with 24 pages of photos) to sustain every case he makes. His book ranks among the very best military history volumes of the year. Agent, Peter Matson. (Nov. 18)

Forecast: With a first printing of 100,000 copies and its status as a History Book Club main selection and a BOMC and Military Book Club alternate, this book should reach its intended audience easily; a four-city author tour will win over less regular readers of WWII along the way.

Reviewed on: 10/04/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 660 pages - 978-0-330-49062-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4050-5543-7
Paperback - 584 pages - 978-0-375-71422-1
Open Ebook - 471 pages - 978-1-4000-4372-9
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