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The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  3,862 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
On the morning of December 16, 1944, eighteen men of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon attached to the 99th Infantry Division found themselves directly in the path of the main thrust of Hitler's massive Ardennes offensive. Despite being vastly outnumbered, they were told to hold their position "at all costs." Throughout the day, the platoon repulsed three large G ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published November 22nd 2004)
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Dave Great book. Meticulously documented from other sources and interviews with the men themselves. From their first training till the citations long after…moreGreat book. Meticulously documented from other sources and interviews with the men themselves. From their first training till the citations long after the war was over. If you like military history, you'll love this book. (less)
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Kershaw's account is that of an overlooked and belatedly heralded action by one platoon in the first stages of World War II's Battle of the Bulge. The stand of eighteen untested soldiers against a German paratrooper regiment at a key crossroads was instrumental in slowing down the advance of the German forces and giving the allied army the time to adjust to an attack that had taken it by complete surprise and left it reeling in disarray. The army was then able to regroup and initiate the counter ...more
A.L. Sowards
Probably my favorite book so far this year.

The Longest Winter tells the story of an intelligence & reconnaissance platoon. Although they weren’t trained for defending fixed positions, they got stuck with that duty, and happened to be manning foxholes when the big German offensive came December 16, 1944. Twenty-two men held off hundreds of attacking German troops before running out of ammunition and being captured. They managed to stall part of the German advance for roughly a day, giving vi
May 02, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They were so young, these American soldiers just trying to keep warm and prepare for the push into Germany. They paid the price for the intelligence failures of the overconfident generals safe and cozy in Versailles and other chateaus. Those at HHQ were certain the Germans could only slow the inevitable defeat. Au contraire! The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon tells the story of a small platoon caught on the northern spearhead o ...more
Oct 05, 2014 Dj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In general I am not a big fan of small, or single unit, books. Their focus sometimes seems to be that if this unit would have been allowed more freedom, men, equipment, etc. that this unit could have won a battle or even have turned the tide of action. Sometimes actions of singular units can and do change the course of battles, but unless there is a telling of the actions that are going on around this unit it causes a sense of isolation and lack of reality.

This book avoids that trap and does it
Nov 07, 2012 Arcticvet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written, very readable book about the extraordinary heroism of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon of the 394th Infantry Regiment of the 99th Division at Lanzareth, Belgium. A book that should be read by anyone interested in the events of the the Battle of the Bulge and the sacrifices of young men at war.
Jul 10, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2012 Cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating tale of heroism both on the largest front line of WWII and in the harrowing POW camps of Europe. I read Kershaw's "The Envoy" last year and it still stands as one of my favorite non-fiction books ever. That is a hard act to follow. "The Longest Winter" does get bogged down a bit in the sheer number of stories that it sets out to tell. Whenever you want to tell the story of an entire platoon, as well as the story of its German captors, I imagine it is an unavoidable problem. Even th ...more
Carrie Jacobsen
May 08, 2013 Carrie Jacobsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best military history books I have read. While I majored in History and have a great deal of interest in military history, few books on the subject are able to hold my attention and... oh look a butterfly... anyway, this one did. Excellent job by Kershaw.
Amber Martin
Nov 02, 2015 Amber Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An in depth story of heroism in the face of certain defeat. While The Battle Of The Bulge involved fighting from countless men The Longest Winter focuses solely on the men of an I&R platoon from the 99th Infantry Division. Following them from training in Texas into the heart of Germany from 1944-1945 by the end I felt an attachment to each of them individually. While I enjoy to learn anything I can about WWII there was so much I didn't know about this particular group and was glad to see the ...more
Paul Pessolano
“The Longest Winter” by Alex Kershaw, published by Da Capo Press.

Category – World War II Publication Date – 2004

The Battle of the Bulge may be the most decisive battle of World War II, but the battle was won or lost on the actions of an intelligence platoon. The platoon was ordered to a forward position, not knowing that the Germans were preparing for a massive attack to save the Reich.

The platoon, of eighteen men, was faced against a battalion of over 600 German soldiers. Fierce fighting went
Bridger Nash
Nov 20, 2012 Bridger Nash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it is more of an adult level reading. i wouldnt recomend it to elemenrty school kids just to hard for them unless your a nerd!
Mar 12, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was afraid this reading would be dry & riddled w/ a lot of military facts, dates, map coordinates, etc. It turned out to be anything but. It was informative w/o dragging & gave a lot of first hand perspective that didn't come off, in the least, as "Yay me!". I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It really highlights the superhuman effort of this military unit to stand their ground, carry out orders &, in hindsight, thwart the German objective to annihilate American forces in Belgium. It also sho
Max Skidmore
Jul 02, 2014 Max Skidmore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent military history about the battle of the bulge. My uncle Vernon was in this battle so I have always been somewhat fascinated with it. The main characters are in a Reconnaissance Platoon and have established defensive positions at a key, terrain point. They are told to hold thier position at all costs. This they do until they run out of ammunition. After surrendering to the German Army, they are POWs for the remainder of the war, another four months.

A great book about Ameri
Jun 12, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I read something about this before. I recall reading about the 394th I&R platoon. I did not get into much detail before.

This book talks about the stand the 394th took during the battle of the bulge. 18 men held off hundreds of men, they killed or wounded over 500 and lost no men. They suffered some bad injuries prior to being captured, but none of them were killed. This group was highly trained and were suppose to go behind enemy lines and gather intelligence on the German army. They were to
-Un hecho concreto y sus consecuencias en el marco más amplio de lo sucedido en las Ardenas.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Relato de la preparación de la ofensiva alemana en las Ardenas y de cómo ello afectó a los miembros de un pequeño pelotón de soldados norteamericanos que termina desplegado en lugar anodino de sus posiciones, en la ladera de un pueblo llamado Lanzerath, de quiénes eran esos hombres, de cómo se enfrentan durante 24 horas a fuerzas muy superiores y de los destinos de esa
Dec 21, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of valor, excellent in the telling.

The accounts from WWII fill me with an admiration for the soldiers of my father's and uncles' generation. I have read quite a few stories dealing with the Bataan Death March (my father's story), D Day, the Holocaust, and others, but never specifically the Battle of the Bulge. The name was familiar from history classes ages ago, the story was not. To me the grunts, the nameless men out there fighting the battles of the generals and political leaders are
Jul 05, 2012 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having avoided being a participant in the Battle of the Bulge by only a few days, I found this book provides insights that active participants have long kept buried in their past. So this story of
an I&R Platoon at the Bulge, the capture and POW life of those boys next door who populated the
GIs of World War II.

Along the way, that knotty question of life, "Why Me?" gets the echoing answer discovered by many a guy in war, "Why Not Me?" If, somehow, the answer isn't clear, you might check the ne
Brendan Elliott
Aug 08, 2015 Brendan Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love readable history and this is one of them. It wasn't to difficult to read and read like a novel. It was very informative, I learned a lot and enjoyed it at the same time. Would definitely recommend for anyone interested in military history but doesn't want to get over their head with difficult vocab. One of the best I've read this year!
Feb 20, 2012 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another entry in my current fascination about WWII. I was particularly interested in this book because my father fought in this battle. I found the book to be very moving and emotional. But like the vets themselves, the writer doesn't write very emotionally, but the experiences he describes brings out emotion in the reader. The battle scenes and the POW experiences were unbelievable. This story is also a fine example of how WWII vets were (are) so reticent to talk about their experiences. The fa ...more
Ann Guthrie
An amazing history of the young men who made a crucial difference in the Battle of the Bulge.
Frances Johnson
Aug 30, 2013 Frances Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
This is a edge of your seat exciting book about the Battle of the Bulge, POW's, and the men of the almost forgotten 394th I & R Platoon. I read it in two evenings. I was fascinated by the amount of information obtained from unpublished personal journals and interviews with the men who were there. You really see the war through the eyes of the participants, both Allies and Germans. I also enjoyed knowing what happened to the men, the Americans and the Germans, after the war and learning that ...more
Bryan Hoff
I was way too excited to read this book to be let down
Aug 18, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it
Recommended to Joy by: Setliffs
First of all I should say that I don't know about everyone else but when I was learning about the battle of the bulge in my history classes, it was just mentioned in passing, so I didn't know a lot of the places and people that they talk about. The author tries to be helpful by putting maps in it and pausing in the text to explain, but sometimes I still got lost. The narrative makes up for the confusion in my opinion, however. It is not dry or boring to read and flows well. Just keep in mind thi ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Darren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TITLE: The Longest Winter
AUTHOR: Alex Kershaw
GENRE: History
PAGES: 344
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I LOVE history. World War II is one of my favorite periods. Now some may ask “How many times can you read a book on the same subject?”
My answer is “As many times as I want.”
Let’s face it, reading history is no different than reading any other genre like romance, thrillers, mysteries, etc. Sure, history can be boring at times, especially if you are bombarded by places and dates and littl
Jan 06, 2013 Charlotte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book, like every account of WWII I have read makes me wonder if I ever could have been as brave or survived such unimaginable conditions. My grandfather served in The European Theatre and was killed in action in a forest in Germany on a cold winter day. Alex Kershaw's tale of the friendships the men developed makes me feel better for knowing he was surrounded by men who would have loved him an tried to save him like the heroic people in Winter's Tale. We were the good guys.
Margaret Elder
Sep 19, 2015 Margaret Elder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Kershaw's book - The Bedford Boys - I expected this to be a quick read, and it was. I'm so glad Kershaw researched this story and brought it to the world's attention through this book. (My own father fought with the 4th Infantry in the Battle of the Bulge, shortly after horrendous fighting in Hurtgen Forest; this fact contributed to my special interest in this subject.) These men were heroes; the war they fought was a just one. By reading about what happened to them in battle, in pri ...more
Paul Lunger
Jul 20, 2014 Paul Lunger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alex Kershaw's "The Longest War: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon" tells the story of the 18 men who were a part of the I&R platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division whose role in attack on Lanzerath, Belgium in the early phases of the Battle of the Bulge changed the course of the battle for the Allies. From their initial training at Camp Maxey, Texas in July 1944 through the battle & their subsequent capture, Kershaw deta ...more
Jun 26, 2012 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would probably rate it differently, but I think my opinion is swayed by other Battle of the Bulge things I have read and enjoyed. I'll give this book credit, I liked how it presented both sides of the battle, and it was detailed without becoming a textbook. However, I just kept thinking about the Band of Brothers description of Bastogne (both the book and the mini-series) as I read the book, so I may be biased. I did love Escape from the Deep!
May 17, 2011 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's what the real title should have been - The Longest Book: The Battle to Stay Awake Reading This. I love WW2 history and books, but I just could not get into this one. The history is amazing and what these men did and endured is incredible - their story needs to be told. Bottom line - a very interesting story told in a way that made me want to close the book and go to bed.
Jul 06, 2013 MaryJS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
7/6/13. Wow. Thanks to Dr Bouck and the rest of the 99th! You really are the "greatest generation!"

This book moved and humbled me. Readable and interesting, it captured me from the start. I work with veterans and this book helped me understand another aspect of WWII. Thanks to all who told their stories and to Alex Kershaw for an interesting and compelling re telling.
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Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, The Liberator, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. His latest book is Avenue of Spies. He lives in Massachusetts.
More about Alex Kershaw...

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