As with other Max Hastings books, this is a good read. It is well-written and informative and I found it quite hard to put down. It is interesting to read about the personal experiences of both Allied and German soldiers, as well as those of the civilians caught up in the catastrophe.
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39 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
An excellent overview of the last year of the war26 août 2005
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Max Hastings' "Armagaddon" is a fantastic book about the last year of World War II in Europe. In ways, it is a follow-up to his book "Overlord," although Hastings does also devote considerable attention to the fighting on the East Front. Hastings seamlessly shifts his narrative from the big picture to analysis to individual viewpoints, and in doing so gives the reader an accurate and informed history of the last year of WWII in Europe.
Much of Hasting's focus is on the "big picture," the campaigns and battles from August 1944 until May 1945. Hastings describes all of the major battles of the last year of the war - Market-Garden, the Ardennes, the Allied Spring Offensive, the Vistula Offensive, and the Battle for Berlin - while also devoting more print than others to Operation Varsity, the Soviet offensives in the Balkans, and other lesser-known actions. He describes at length the Warsaw Uprising. Sometimes, though, the details of these battles are lost or get confusing because Hastings' narratives of these battles often jump between the "big picture" and the individual accounts of the battles. .
Hastings also analyzes the conduct of the battle and the military leaders of each side. As in "Overlord," Hastings is critical of the American and British leaders who lacked the initiative, vision, and experience to end the war as quickly as they could. He is also critical of the fighting abilities of the American and British soldiers. Hastings contrasts these commanders and soldiers with those of the Germans and Soviet Russians, all of whom he believe were superior to the American and British. Reading Hastings' opinions serve as a counterpoint to those such as Stephen Ambrose, and certainly the truth lies somewhere between the two. Still, Hastings does differentiate between the individual leaders; for example, he is extremely critical of Montgomery while seeming to hold Patton in fairly high regard.
Hastings peppers his narrative individual stories in the war, telling the experiences of the soldiers and civilians caught up in the war. These stories are based on recently-conducted interviews with the participants. He uses these stories to support his larger theses and to color his battle accounts. These personal stories are most telling during "Armageddon's" chapters about the aerial bombing of Germany, POWs, and the Soviet pillaging of East Prussia.
"Armageddon" gives the reader a great overview of the last year of WWII in Europe. Hastings weaves his history with analysis of the campaigns and with the personal stories of those who were there. He has written an excellent work that should be read by anyone with an interest in WWII. It's just a shame that he couldn't find a better title for his book.
109 internautes sur 123 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Chronicling the perils intrinsic to war's endgame.18 novembre 2004
David J. Gannon
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In Armageddon Mark Hastings has provided an in depth and wide ranging history of the last months of World War II in Europe. This massive tome provides an organized and intimate window into the appalling toll of war, a toll exacerbated by errors overconfidence contributed particularly among the Western allies on the one hand and the incalculable atrocities the vengeance of the Russians contributed on the other.
Hastings effectively shows how overconfidence born from the success of the western invasion on D-day led the western allies into a series of questionable decisions of both tactical and psychological nature. The failure to secure the deep water port at Antwerp and the miscalculation as to the willingness and capabilities of the retreating Germans to continue to battle led to unnecessary disaster at Arnheim and the Ardennes.
Hastings also provides what may be the first authoritative overview of the raping and pillaging of Prussia by Russian troops, a saga of atrocities unparallel in 20th century history and possibly the most savage actions in Europe sine the days of the Mongol invasions.
Although great in scope the book has curious omissions. There is virtually nothing here relating to the war in southern Europe. Although some major characters get the full historical overview, others are given relatively short shrift. And there is a definite element of personal commentary as to certain players (Monty in particular) that are less than objective in my view.
However, on the whole this is an awesome historical review of a major historical event with lessons for today. The perils of the end game in Europe may well have implications as to the possible end game in Iraq. If so, the lessons are not heartening.
So, in the end, this book has value not only as a historical reference but as a warning about the perils that sill face those who wage war today.
27 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
INSIGHTFUL, CHALLENGING WORLD WAR II HISTORY18 janvier 2005
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From one of Britain's Best Military Historians.
I have always admired the work of Max Hastings, whether it be his combat reportage from the Falkland Islands or his masterful tome on D-Day "Overlord" where he first challenged the optimism and the skill of the Allied Armies facing the Germans on the Normandy Beaches.
In "Armageddon" Hastings further challenges the myths of the superiority of the Western Allies over the Nazi armies, and whether one agrees with him or not, his findings are cause for serious thought and re-evaluation, especially in regards to the way we fight our wars today.
Some of his findings aren't new - but more novel in the way that he presented and flushed them out. For example, Hastings rips Bernard Montgomery, a fellow Brit across the coals for his twin failures to open up Antwerp Port in September 1944, and for blithely sending in three Allied Airborne divisions without adequate armor or infantry support in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden in Holland. In the first case, Montgomery chose to do a "Farragut at Mobile Bay" in reverse. Whereas the Union Admiral chose to take out the harbor forts at Mobile and neutralize the Confederate fleet before assault the city, Montgomery chose to take the city without moving on the port facilities with the utmost urgency. That cost the allies almost two months of supplies - and perhaps the drive to move into Germany in the fall of 1944. Furthermore, by destroying the 1st British Airborne Division at Arnhem, Hastings shows that even if Arnhem had been successful, Allied forces still would have lack the necessary punch to move in force across the Rhine and into the heart of Nazi Germany simply because there weren't enough supplies. Antwerp was the key to ending the war in the west, and Monty blew it badly.
But Eisenhower also deserves his fair share of criticism. Hastings points out that Patton should have been the commander of the U.S. forces in the Ruhr, and had he been in command, would have possessed the fire, drive and imagination to move in force into the German heartland. To put in opposite Alsace-Lorraine was a waste. Furthermore, Hastings finds it unbelieveable that Ike, knowing Monty's weaknesses and his spite towards Americans, would let Montgomery take charge of the major operations designed to end the war in the fall of 1944 and fail completely!
The British soldiers were tired, their officers while courageous lacked skill and imagination. By contrast, the U.S. Army had some wonderful elite forces, i.e., the 82nd and 101st Airborne, and the 3rd and 4rd Armored Divisions to name a few, but outside of Patton and a few unorthodox officers, were either too slow or too hesitant to take the necessary initative.
By contrast Hastings gives the Wehrmacht, fighting desperately on its own soil very high marks for tenacity, and also to the Red Army for smashing through the thick German defenses from the Vistula to the Oder. He also notes that the totalitarian armies were the worst when it came to respecting human rights and lives; but better in mortal combat than the humane Allied soldiers. He also notes that Stalin had clear-cut goals whereas the sick Roosevelt vacillated to the dismay of a worn and pessimistic Churchill.
The chapter on the Soviet push into East Prussia is not for the faint of heart or to be read on a full stomach. Even those of us who cheered the destruction of the Third Reich and of the Nazi killing machine will have very little to cheer over the rapes, tortures and murders committed by the Red Army, no matter the justification, including the martyred Six Million and the countless Russians and Slavs slaughtered and starved by Hitler. In fact, much of our distrust of Russia stems from those days when the reality that Stalin was no better than Hitler finally hit home after Yalta. Hastings is not the first to chronicle the murderous rampage in Prussia, Jurgen Thorwald and James Lucas have preceded him. But he is the first to write of this in relatively unemotional and non-partisan tones.
This is one incredible history of the final 9 months of World War II in Europe. The savagery of the battlefield, the atrocities committed by Germans and Russians, the weaknesses of the West in contrast to the bloodthirsty determination of the Soviets, and accounts by the fighting men themselves (Hastings, like Ambrose and Brokaw wanted to capture the true voices of "The Greatest Generation" before they passed on, and did so with flying colors)...it is all here in "Armageddon".
Hastings, like Jay Winik in his treatment of the last month of the Civil War in "April 1864" has captured the depth and the scope of the killing fields in Europe at the end of World War II.
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Very critical of the allies6 décembre 2004
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Hastings has wriiten a book that is harshly critical of the allies during the Second World War. According to Hastings the Western allies missed numerous opportunities to conquer Germany such as after the capture of Aachen and the Battle of the Bulge. Moreover the Western allies were too reliant on firepower and not able to improvise in combat. Hastings also chatises Soviet miltitary abiltity as well, by criticizing the decision to halt the advance into Berlin by pausing to reinforce the northern flank, and Zhukov's frontal attack on that city. Hastings writes that the allies committed numerous atrocities such as bombing and strafing civilians while the Russians crucified and raped women.Plus Hastings questions the morality of the Western allies by provoking the doomed Warsaw rebellion without having the means to support it. The main fault of Hastings's work is that he leaves out the siege of Budapest and ignores the works by David French, Peter Mansoor, and Michael Doubler that contradict his thesis about the military abilties of the Western allies. Despite these criticisms, I would reccomend this book for those who want a new perspective on the Second World War.
23 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Excellent11 décembre 2004
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It's been a long time coming, but what is effectively the sequal to "Overlord" manages to overshadow even that masterpiece.
To anyone under 50, the sheer scale of World War Two is staggering. The size of the armies, the number of dead and wounded, and the scale of the general suffering is so great as to be difficult to imagine. Hastings manages the very difficult trick of sustaining a narrative overview while never allowing us to forget that every event involved individuals.
Amongst the many shocking facts he exposes:
The treatment of the Soviet Union's own soldiers who had been captured was horrific. Stalin was worried that in captivity they had somehow become "exposed" to the West and possibly "contaminated." On liberation thousands were shot, while thousands more were sent to the GULAG or internal exile.
The evacuation of East Prussia (now Poland) meant that about two million German civilians lost their lives, whilst the survivors suffered rape, destitution, and abuse at the hands of a maddened Red Army.
The stupidity of the Nazi leadership when they continued to defend the Western front long after any hope of victory or negotiated settlement had passed. This lead to the occupation of Berlin and the East by the Soviet Union, with all the suffering and cruelty that ensued.
The naivety of President Roosvelt, in assuming he could trust Stalin, despite Churchill's misgivings. To be fair, nobody knew the President was terminally ill during much of 1944.
Finally, (yes finally!) a historian is candid enough to critisise "Market Garden" and correctly speculate that even if the operation had succeded, the Allies would have surely been halted and defeated or exhausted to a standstill somewhere else long before reaching Berlin in the winter of 1944.
The list goes on.
Buy this book, read it, and prepare to be amazed and unsettled at what human beings, many of whom considered themselves educated and civilised, are capable of. It's also the perfect antidote to the rancid guff the late Stephen Ambrose plagerised in his "greatest generation" works which often glorify this cruelest and most horrible of all wars.