|Title:||Hitlerís Last Offensive|
|Publisher:||Pen & Sword Books|
|Released:||2014, reprint from 1971 edition|
The Battle of the Bulge is for many writers and readers a grateful theme. Now that the offensive, also known as Wacht am Rhein, is highly topical because of its 70-year anniversary, publisher Pen & Sword reissues, the already in 1971 published book, "Hitlerís Last offensive" by Peter Elstob. The book covers the whole story of the Battle of the Bulge, including preparation and aftermath.
Peter Elstob was an English adventurer, historian and soldier, who participated in the Spanish Civil War and Second World War, where he served as a sergeant in a tank regiment. He also survived the Battle of the Bulge. This makes him not just any author of this book. He knows what he is talking about. Elstob was also a novelist not without merit. This is also reflected in the book Hitlerís Last offensive. Elstob writes in a very pleasant and catchy way. He tells many anecdotes and details. The last decades much information has emerged about the Battle of the Bulge because of investigation by other authors. Therefore a number of issues that Elstob describes in his book are outdated, or even incorrect. If the reader chooses not to pay too much attention to it, this book is very much worth reading. The author speaks among others, about East and West-Germany as being two different nations. This is due to the fact that the book for this edition is not the first edition. This book is written during the height of the Cold-War, which here and there is clearly noticeable.
Elstob builds his story excitingly: in the first chapters he describes the backgrounds on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge, the protagonists and the preparations. After that he describes in some 20 chapters the developments of the offensive from German and Allied perspective. It is done meritorious, because the reader is supplied captivatingly with important information. Here and there Elstob is jumping to conclusions because of his own enthusiasm with statements and theorems. Sometimes he also puts word in the mouths of some protagonists that are not factually substantiated and verified. The fact remains that for the Second World War enthusiasts it is a book that deserves a place on the bookshelf.
Every chapter begins with a quote or statement from a historical figure. The quote refers to the content of that chapter. In the book Elstob also allows commanders to ventilate their opinion on the failure of the offensive and the reasons for that. Very fascinating to read.
Elstob wonders if Hitlerís offensive could have been successful. He argues that the whole plan, was conceived by Hitler, to the smallest detail. Research by other contemporary writers shows that this statement needs some nuance. Elstob unfolds the entire panorama of this last offensive and also tries to answer the question, of What Ifs. He claims that Hitlerís real objective was not anymore to win the war but to keep Germany complete. In the success of the offensive the front in the West would come to a standstill. That would provide Hitler, in his own discretion, capacity for the battle in the East.
Elstob concludes himself that the offensive had no chance of success. Reaching the Meuse, which failed, was only a small part of the plan. Through Brussels to Antwerp would have been completely unthinkable. The author also concludes, in 1971, that the Russians arrived much earlier in Berlin because of the failure of the Battle of the Bulge. This conclusion has been confirmed by other historians in the last 40 years and remains to many WWII connoisseurs an open door.
The book itself is written in English and with the exception of the cover (on the front cover a photo of a German soldier in Poteau, on the back side a photo from an advancing German Tiger tank and rows of American POWís) the book shows it is being dated. There are no photoís in the book, but some maps that give the impression to be poor copies. Also the text pages are visually of very poor quality. Overall, the book looks cheaply edited and a little bit sloppy and that infringes with the content of the book. It is a pity the (re)publisher has taken no more effort to dress up the book and have a little more attention to the presentation. In this way, the book will be put away as a paperback and the content does not deserve that.
Conclusion: an informative book, dated here and there, that could have been a renewed best seller, with a little more attention to content and design, especially in this time when the Battle of the Bulge receives so much attention in the news.