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Battle: The Story of the Bulge

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  762 ratings  ·  60 reviews
"The perspective of 15 years, painstaking research, thousands of interviews, extensive analysis and evaluation, and the creative talent of John Toland [paint] the epic struggle on an immense canvas. . . . Toland writes with the authority of a man who was there. . . . He tastes the bitterness of defeat of those who surrendered and writes as if he had the benefit of the eyes ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Bison Books (first published 1959)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  762 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, non-fiction
A grisly story of a brutal battle, told well. A well-researched, carefully constructed chronicle of one of the most famous/infamous battles and, in many way, one of the final turning points in WWII in Europe. An impressive piece of military history told in the most human of terms.

Much of the author's art is the ability to present the big (and I mean big) picture - from Hitler to Eisenhower - while presenting a broad range of perspectives - both axis and allied, from individual soldiers (and civi
A book about the Battle of the Bulge, that reads like a movie script.

This book, written in 1959, gives a broad overview of the actions that took place during the Battle of the Bulge. It is somehow a little one sided account of various witnesses (American and Belgian) about the battles but skips the details about the siege of Bastogne. Therefore, a good introduction to the battle, fast pacing and enjoyable, but will lack the detail that a more profound WWII buff reader will require.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Like the battle itself, this book could have been a disaster. Yet, Toland does a great job of making this confusing and chaotic battle understandable by focusing on the personal stories of the soldier. His writting style is economic as he tells heart wrenching, sometimes funny and incredible stories of how close this battle could have come to wiping out the gains the Allies had achieved since Normandy. The maps are very good and the short paragraphs detailing the action along the lines made it e ...more
What a great way to ring in the new year, by finishing a good book. My daughter picked this book out of the library for me. It is a very fitting time to read this since the Battle of the Bulge was Christmas 1944 into the new year 1945. John Toland is one of my favorite authors due to his research and thorough discussion of the historical events. He came through with flying colors with this one as well.

The 101st at Bastogne, the 90 degree turn of Patton's Third Army, and the fake Americans of Ot
Sep 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Nice try, Hitler- NUTS to you!

This is a VERY detailed account of the battle, which can be overwhelming to a casual reader. I ended up getting lost trying to figure out who was where at what time because flipping back and forth to the maps got tedious after a while. Eventually, I just had to power through it to get a general feel for the battle. After some more WWII reading, I may come back to this book a second time.

With so many characters and locations to keep straight, I recommend reading thi
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Strangely, it took me longer to read Battle: The Story of the Bulge than it took for Hitler’s desperate Wacht am Rhein to bog down. I started reading Battle: The Story of the Bulge when playing a board game called Tigers in the Mist. At first, I was trying to read the sections related to where I was in the game, but then work, family, and church intervened (not to mention that I lost the game even though I was the Allies—couldn’t hold Bastogne long enough).

Battle: The Story of the Bulge tells t
J. Bryce
This was the first book I ever read on the so-called Battle of the Bulge, and I remember liking it very much.

It was originally published in 1959 and I bet I read a library edition copy of that vintage, and for it's era, it was excellent. Still makes a good read today!

Recommended as an introduction to this complex campaign.
Jeremiah Lorrig
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Great stories, but it was very hard to follow the big picture.

It is, however, a great way to get a feel for what happened on the ground during the battle of the bulge. Very interesting and descriptive.
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, non-fiction
Among the men on each side of the battle, there were acts of tremendous courage, cruelty, and humanity. Even SS men often showed a code of honor and humanity that is not part of our one-sided, agenda driven history of the past 45 years. Soldiers on the allied side often showed ruthlessness and indifference to human life that was the equal of the German attrocities with which we are all so familiar.

This is still another account of the War in Europe that reveals that Bradley, not Patton, was drive
May 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book, easy and quick to read. It is more anecdotal that based on the official primary sources. The history of the battle is there, but it is overshadow by the stories of the people in the battle and affected by it, like the Luxembourg housewife who hid a American from the Germans, all the while her son is serving the German army after being conscripted.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
Review originally published at Book of Bogan.

Battle is a book about the so-called Battle of the Bulge, a campaign during the Second World War, which was something of a last gasp for the Nazis. The author takes us down to ground level, sometimes below, and into the lives of the real people who are taking part in this battle, as well as civilians trapped in the firing line.

The Ardennes campaign is probably one of the areas of the second world which I know very little, although I have Antony Beevor
Austin Mitchell
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this at the same time I was reading The Guns of August. The parallels between these books and the battles they examine are obvious and have been drawn to the point of exhaustion. What I will say is that while The Guns of August is a truly amazing book. Battle does a better job in conveying the humanity of the people it tells the story of. Often the figure in Guns feel like the characateurs that history portrays them as, meanwhile battle forces the reader to acknowledge that even someone a ...more
Ray Stanley
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm glad Band of Brothers and the story of Bastogne has been told in books other than this one. Setback after setback after setback gets a little dreary in this book. And the heroic efforts of the 101st Airborne Division, among others, in plugging the gap in Bastogne and taking it to the Germans soon after is hardly mentioned. It does, however, a good job speaking of the suffering the Belgians, Dutch, and other civilian groups suffered due to the constantly changing front in the chaos that was t ...more
Andrew Heitzman
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More of a narrative of the battle than a straight historical recounting, Toland's book is nevertheless a great read. I read in the Introduction that his work was originally criticized for being too emotional, but it helps to personalize the conflict. My only criticism is the assumptions Toland makes about his readers. A lot of people know a lot of stuff about World War 2, but Toland skims over some introductory information that could be helpful to a less-informed reader. Still, the book is fanta ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, non-fiction, history
It seemed realistic and took me to the Battle of the Bulge in a way my grandfather who fought in it would not recount. He barely survived, spent two years recovering in a hospital, and then lived a full and good life which did not include telling many war stories since he left that in the past as much as possible. The dialogue and details all pulled me in despite the fact I typically do not read books of this genre.
Steve Scott
It was okay. The maps were poor in the digital version I read, and thus it was next to impossible to visualize the battle on the ground as described by Toland. Other books provide a far better overview of the battle.

That said, there were some compelling stories of the men who fought there.

It's worth adding to one's library...but don't stop with this book if you want an idea of what happened. Read a good half dozen.
Paul Dwigans
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-war-ii
Wonderful book! Having recently returned from a trip to Luxemburg and Belgium where I toured many WWII sites, this book was invaluable. This classic work captures firsthand accounts of the Battle of the Bulge and narrates eyewitness accounts of Hitler's last big gamble of the war from the perspective of civilians, the American and German Soldiers as well as those in high command. I wish I had read this book earlier and I recommend it to historians and lovers of Nonfiction alike.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, a-2018
This book has some good narrative moments, but it tends to get bogged down when it tries to describe the action in terms of numbered regiments and obscure Belgian place names. The book does a poor job of communicating the big picture. It is probably a bit dated, but may benefit from a second reading.
Robert Way
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Battle is most complete narrative of major world event that I have ever read. As the last of World War Two generation departs forever, this book will remain to show what they suffered. This war history is stark and honest.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good summary on the Battle of the Bulge from an author with a very intense amount of effort put into learning the facts from first hand accounts and other primary sources. Pretty sure this is an abbreviated version of the author's longer Battle of the Bulge book.
Kory Klimoski
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book! So much detail about The Battle of the Bulge. I am glad this was recommended to me. Worthwhile reading and a must for any historian. Audible reader was pleasant to listen to.
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The last great and desperate German offensive in Europe.
Great history lesson.
Dave Allen
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Toland does a masterful job of intertwining big-picture history with stories and vignettes of individual soldiers, infusing a personal touch to what could have been a dry re-hashing of troop movements and statistics. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because he wasn't able to overcome the natural challenge of moving from one battlefield to another quickly without getting the reader lost. More maps would have helped.
Brian Steele
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I liked the way it looked at all the people involved, from grunt to general and civilians.
The book though made me bummed because a quote in the book from Patton made me realize that the Movie Patton is more of a fictional reenactment that true to fact history. Oh well. Hollywood has done this before and will do it again. That is why I prefer history books to the movie adaptations....I digress.
Overall a really good book
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BATTLE, The Story of The Bulge by John Toland (1959, First Edition)

Battle, by John Toland, was the third in a trilogy of books on WWII’s Battle of the Bulge I recently read. The first was an excellent little book, The Damned Engineers, 1970, by Janice Holt Giles; followed by The Bitter Woods, 1969, by John S. D. Eisenhower. Availability of Toland’s BATTLE is limited and I happened to receive a 1st edition published in 1959.

The Damned Engineers is limited in scope to mainly the heroic exploits
Riley Haas
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it
"Toland is trying really hard to make this objective so I guess that's good for him. I try to remember that it was the 50s and "objective" was not really the same as it is now, but there are some big problems with this narrative.
It is almost entirely from the American point of view. The sporadic accounts of Germans are either from the perspective of generals (one colonel I believe) or from the experiences of Belgian and Luxembourg citizens or American soldiers. It's something like 75% American,
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Some episodes of history are more than unforgettable, they are thrilling every time one thinks of them. One such is the battle of the bulge, when the allied forces were further out than could be logistically supported and German forces unexpectedly turned around to strike back, and the allies were surrounded on almost all sides with almost no option but to surrender or be massacred - and yet the commander famously replied "nuts" to the proposal of surrender from the Germans, barely taking the ci ...more
Bill Yeadon
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is fitting that I finished this book on the anniversary of D-Day as it was the beginning and the Battle of the Bulge was the end of the Allied invasion and German resistance.

While this book is over 50 years old it doesn't matter. Having read several of Toland's WWII book I believe he is the master of details. He mentions in the beginning that all of the conversations were accurate and documented.

I feel like he provides a very fair approach to his reporting. He by no means is a "homer." Not al
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this one - overall very good, and the Battle of the Bulge is always fascinating. I found the narrator's tone off when he was reading some of the atrocities; he sounded sort of overly into it or aggressive or something, which was weird. But I don't think I would have felt that way reading the same words, it was a just a delivery issue. I did appreciate that the author recounted stories of war crimes and of human kindness on all sides - I don't like when an author overly villifies one ...more
Tyler Kumley
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audiobook. A good balance of detail and narrative. Kept the pace moving but stopped long enough to give important details. A telling of the battle from the soldier's point of view. Almost all of the book is spent in the fox-holes and tanks of the soldier on the front. Not a lot of grand strategy or macro-scale editorializing. I assume the print book has maps in it... A good atlas of the area is probably still advisable, but as an audiobook without any maps it was still enjoyable.
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John Willard Toland (June 29, 1912 in La Crosse, Wisconsin - January 4, 2004 in Danbury, Connecticut) was an American author and historian. He is best known for his biography of Adolf Hitler.[1]

Toland tried to write history as a straightforward narrative, with minimal analysis or judgment. This method may have stemmed from his original goal of becoming a playwright. In the summers between his coll
“While Middleton was in an inner office with the commander, his driver slumped in a chair outside to catch a few minutes’ sleep. No sooner had he dropped off than someone stepped heavily on his feet. The driver woke angry. “Why, you son of a bitch,” he cried, “don’t you know I’m trying to sleep?” Then he saw he was looking up at George Patton. Patton leaned back and laughed. “Son,” he said, “you’re the first son of a bitch I’ve met today who knows what he’s trying to do.” 1 likes
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