So now that I have made it through the worst birthday ever, I suppose it's time to saddle up and get back to writing about the things I know best...books, bacon and stupid people.
I figured I would ease into it with a review of a really excellent new book on the Battle of the Bulge. I did my usual memorial post on the battle already where I introduced this book as a work in progress. It was a bit of a doorstop, so I just finished it yesterday evening.
As I mentioned in my yearly post, this was a very fresh look at the battle with a fairly unique perspective. Dr. Caddick-Adams provides a somewhat revisionist view of what brought the battle about (hint-it had to do more with Hitler's politics and world-view than sound military strategy) and why it was doomed from the start. What is more remarkable is that he makes a pretty compelling case that the Germans launched a much weaker offensive than reported by many historians, with many infantry divisions, especially in the supporting German 7th Army and 5th Panzer Army, under strength and suffering from severe logistical short-comings.
This is a perspective that I didn't really see emphasized in many earlier works. In spite of hard fighting, and not to undermine the stout resistance by many American GIs, the Germans had no chance of successfully crossing the Meuse River, much less reaching their stated objective of Antwerp. Planning on refueling your tanks using captured enemy supplies, which was a key factor in German planning is not really what I would consider sound logistical planning.
In fact, the battle was really a tribute to the Allies emphasis on logistical planning. The American Army were able to rush reinforcements to critical areas of the battle, namely the city of Bastogne and the northern parts of the battle near the city of St Vith, because of the huge advantage in motorization and mechanization of the Allied armies. In contrast, as he points out, many German units continued to use horse drawn artillery and supplies and could barely sustain and reinforce the units in combat, much less run supplies all the way to Antwerp.
In addition to the fresh perspective on topics such as the motivation and thinking (if you could call it that) behind Hitler's planning of the attack and the total Allied intelligence failure due to command hubris, what makes this book really special for me is the historiography on the Battle of the Bulge provided as a post-script. Dr. Caddick-Adams examines most of the best-selling histories and memoirs written about the battle and offers his commentaries and insights.
If you have never read a book about the battle, or even if you have, pick this up and you will definitely learn something new about the biggest battle ever fought by the US Army.