Reviews on Christer Bergström's
The Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler's Winter Offensive
"A tremendously accurate portrayal!"
Review by U.S. veteran from the Battle of the Bulge Colonel John M. Nolan, 30th Infantry Division :
"The book is a tremendously accurate portrayal of a pivotal WWII winter battle in unforgiving forested terrain.
Book Survey: Five Books about the Bulge
Review by Bill Stone at Stone & Stone Second World War Books, 21 December 2014:
"As if we don't already have enough books about the Battle of the Bulge, over the last couple of months five more titles have arrived here, occupying more than 2500 pages and more than seven inches of shelf space. Fortunately, some of these new arrivals prove to be solid additions to any Ardennes library. With so many volumes and so many pages, it's not possible to provide a full review of each new book, but this survey should give a pretty good idea of the relative merits of each. [...]
"Overall, Bergstrom probably ranks as the single best volume, with the most meat, the most photos, the best ancillary material, and the best maps."
For those interested in this critical campaign, this volume is recommended!
Review by Stuart McClung, holder of a Master of Arts in Military History, in New York Journal of Books:
"A new take on the 1944–1945 Ardennes campaign ... based on prodigious research in German and American archives with some additional material from those of Great Britain. ... Bergstrom has certainly done his research and managed to cover all the bases in his work. He describes the little known use of German U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean for weather reporting to help determine the most propitious date to launch the offensive and the Luftwaffe’s surprise 1 January 1945 Operation Bodenplatte, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of Allied aircraft on the ground.
Along the way, he analyzes the objectives, failures, strengths and weaknesses of the respective armies. In particular, he lauds the Germans for the complete surprise which their offensive attained while he derides their tactical shortcomings on the ground and in the air.
He criticizes the weakness, incapability and confusion in the Allied command structure for many of the initial failures. Yet, he interprets Allied efforts as being much better fighting on the defensive, having recovered from their initial surprise, as the German attack proceeded than the counter-offensive efforts by George Patton and Bernard Montgomery to pinch off the “Bulge”.
Even as their offensive momentum slowed and was eventually lost, the Germans’ ability to resist the stronger Allied forces with formations which were severely depleted in manpower and lacking in fuel for vehicles forced the Allies to fight for virtually every village, crossroad and water crossing."
A very complete guide!
Review by Darren Baker at Armorama:
"The book covers this important conflict from both sides of the offensive and provides that information in a format that can easily followed and understood. ...
”This may be what you’re looking for”
Review by Alex Wilson at Russian Hill Reader:
”An excellent reference book on The Battle of the Bulge. Exquisite photos well paired with the material they appear near, are on nearly every page, portraying the faces, machines, and landscapes of this brutal assault. Hats off to Bergström for also including brilliantly executed maps, which masterfully show the positions of the troops, important topographical information, key landmarks, and the ultimate movements of the offensive and defensive lines of attack. Furthermore, The Ardennes 1944-1945 contains charts and graphs that help clarify dense text full of details.
Bergström clearly knows weapons, often using the full names of the weapons, physical descriptions of the weapons and their mechanisms, and the impact of the weapons both in the immediate sense and in the battle (and sometimes the war) as a whole. …
The author admirably keeps track of which troops and divisions are involved in each skirmish. …
The level of knowledge Bergström commands for both the Allies and Axis’ divisions is inspiring, and really helps the reader understand the unique challenges and strengths of each division. This leads me to another critical point and strength of this book; both sides of the “bulge” (Axis and Allies) are covered in great detail. At the end of The Ardennes 1944-1945, you will not be thinking, “I wonder how it was for the Germans?”
Bergström doesn’t shy away from controversy, arguing that it is a common misperception that the Germans suffered from a sever shortage of fuel and low productivity of military weapons throughout the offensive. Rather than lacking fuel and supplies, Bergström relies on countless sources to support his claim that the German’s suffered from a lack of maintaining adequate supply routes, particularly supply chains to the frontlines. (This idea is developed throughout the book, especially in the beginning and on pages 145-149)
Paintings and drawings by Horst Helmus, a German artist who served in the Unteroffizier in the 26. Volksgrenadier-Division, are used throughout The Ardennes 1944-1945. I found the inclusion of his art to be particularly compelling because of its beauty, simplicity, and because of the source. Bergström didn’t shy away from using art by the Germans, instead his inclusion of Helmus’s drawings, and other German art and pictures, helps to make the enemy all that more human. Frequently, pictures of war-torn Americans are juxtaposed with similarly destroyed German soldiers. …
For military buffs looking for an excruciatingly detailed book covering both sides of the Battle of the Bulge, this may be what you’re looking for. If you’re working on your own project (writing a book? Thesis? Movie?) that involves this seminal battle, you would be remiss to overlook this book, if for no other reason than to check out its copious sources and pictures. …
Exceptionally well researched and full of remarkable photographs, maps, and charts …”
Another Great book from Bergstrom!
Review by Felipe Perez, at amazon.com 23 December 2014
A great book as almost everything Bergstrom has written. A lot of information and many maps and photos some of them inedit. The book is well rehearsed and well balanced about this widely written episode that constitutes the biggest land battle ever fought by the American Army.
The best volume yet!
Review by R.A. Petro, at amazon.com 22 December 2014
Mr. Bergstrom has presented the best volume yet on explaining the complexities of the various "fronts" surrounding the German offensive. From the planning to the execution of "Autumn Mist", the author provides excellent maps, tons of never before seen photos and the insight into the huge battles that took place in January of 1945, an almost never looked at segment of the Battle. Several pages of color plates at the end of the book are an added "bonus" for both the historian and the modeler. He also includes stories of individual combat from both the German and Allied perspective relating moments of incredible "humanity" along with disgraces like the "Massacre at Malmedy".
Fantastic book !
Review by John Kadotaat amazon.com 18 December 2014
Fantastic book a lot of pictures. Great for 1/6 scale action figures.
Excellent Battle of the Bulge resource!
Review by Dennis Tennant at amazon.com 12 December 2014
This book exceeded my expectations. It's well researched, filled with photos (albeit small ones) that I have never seen before. Excellent book on this campaign.
The Bulge as never seen before!
For a book to live up to its hype, it has to be amazing. Christer Bergstrom's book on the Battle of the Bulge is one such book. If you are a military historian or a wargamer, this book is perfect for you. I have never seen so much detail in a one volume study before. Besides a full history of the campaign, you are treated to wargamer-friendly maps and a full order of battle. Dozens of photos enhance the well-translated text. The account of the battle is detailed, but lucid. Tables and numbers tell their story also, along with full color plates of the tanks and aircraft that came to grips in the Belgian countryside of 1944. For example, you can see the losses by division AND tank type for all of the Nazi Army Group B from December 16 until the 31st. If you can afford only one book on the Ardennes offensive, get this book!
An awesome, well written book!
Sixteen months ago I was told Mr Bergstrom was writing a book on the Ardennes Offensive; at the same time, my friend suggested my book on the "Bulge" should be postponed and that I should begin working on another campaign. Wanting to be a part of the 70th Anniversary celebration I had to decline that advice but after reading "Ardennes 1944-1945", I would say it was good advice for this book is awesome. Of the six new "Bulge" books that have been released in the last two months, this book at least from my perspective of favoring battlefield operations and analysis is most impressive. In addition to this inspiring story is an equalily impressive map set and a large photo gallery. With the book having dimensions of 9 in. by 12 in., most of the maps are large and the many photos do not overpower the story.
The book opens with three introductory chapters that covers the prehistory of the sector, the planning of the German offensive and then the preparations for the attack. The next three chapters takes up the offensive for at least the first week of the campaign. The time period varies, being longer in some sectors. The battle actions begins with 5th PzA sector against the 28th ID defenders, followed by the 7th Army attacking 4th ID and finally the 6th SS PzA as tail end Charlie attacking in the north against 99th ID. The next two chapters covers the air war followed by the siege of Bastogne and collectively these five chapters consume the bulk of the offensive. The last three chapters covers the action starting with the new year and you'll read about the Operation Northwind to the south of 1st Army, the beginning of the Allied counter offensive that will eventually push the German forces out of the Ardennes. Coverage ends at the end of January.
Mr Bergstrom has a military bearing and I enjoyed his dialog as he describes the military events. He sets up the combat engagements very well, using a no nonsense approach in describing the combatants facing each other, mission parameters, the deployments being used, axes of attack and flanking positions if any. Terrain and weather conditions are also often included in the mix. The avid student of the operational will really appreciate this writing style. The combat coverage frequently drives down to company level or combat group level and when the skirmish is larger, battalion and regiment level is usually provided.
To enhance his narrative, many snippets of after action reports are included as well as quotes from key people in the campaign. Also at the end of each chapter, a helpful summary of conclusions and results are mentioned. This end summary will help clarify any concerns you might have while reading the chapter. Coverage is fairly even between the two combatants, neither side being permanently overshadowed.
In addition to an expert narrative, the author has included twenty excellent B+W maps. These maps are visually appealing and well populated and the reader will be able to gleam a lot from them. These maps have been wisely chosen in with regards to sector and time. These maps could be used as reference when reading any book on the "Bulge". The large photo gallery which, includes helpful captions, is also an asset to the book. The book also contains a nice set of color plates of tanks and planes that were involved in the campaign. The expert Notes Section, Bibliography, Appendix can also be of good value if further research is desired.
"Ardennes 1944-1945" is an awesome effort by Mr Bergstrom and it deserves all the praise that I'm sure it will get. For me it’s a must have reference for my library and would suggest to all avid students of the campaign that it be added to their's as well. Highly recommended!
Excellent history of Battle of the Bulge!
By Dennis Tennant at amazon.com 14 November 2014
Excellent history of Battle of the Bulge.
Review by Zeb Kantrowitz
About as Detailed a Compilation as You Could Want!
By Zeb Kantrowitz at amazon.com 22 Nov 2014
Christer Bergstrom has gone into the archives of all the participating Armies and in his narrative, inserts after action reports, news reports and personal interviews with soldiers from both sides describing the conditions they fought under. Bergstrom’s reporting is so detailed that at some battles we have the names of the tank commanders and the officers (and enlisted) men who fought there. Most impressive is the number of maps showing battles for two or three towns at a time and the movements by units in support of these attacks.
Though some will take umbrage to Bergstrom’s description of some famous Generals and their competency during battle, in most cases this is a well balanced view of the battles and their outcomes.
Review in Swedish magazine Soldat & Teknik (Soldier & Technology) No. 1, 2014:
'The Ardennes 1944-1945 by Christer Bergstrom is a heavy thing, in two senses. The fact that it weighs 4.8 lbs is one thing, and it also is packed with facts and data.
Tobias Svanliden on the Swedish historical radio programme Vetenskapsradion History on 19 December 2013:
’If one should only talk about ONE book about World War II this year, it would be The Ardennes 1944-1945 by Christer Bergström.’
Excerpts from the Swedish official Library Service review of the Swedish edition of The Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler's winter offensive:
’In this comprehensive study on the Battle of the Bulge, Christer Bergström has interviewed those who participated in the Battle, and has gone through a large archival material, including previously unpublished material. The Ardennes Battle has mostly been portrayed from the Western Allied point of view, but this book gives equal attention to the prespectives of both sides. The book is provided with hundreds of illustrations, numerous maps and other attachments and is extremely detailed and comprehensive. In summary, Christer Bergström's book is a brilliant, well-written and thorough account of one of the most decisive battles of World War II. The author has written numerous books on World War II and is an internationally renowned expert.’
Review by Lars Navander, lieutenant colonel and former Intelligence Officer at the Swedish Headquarters:
’I have never read a more outstanding World War II book. It is amazing how the author has been able obtain all this credible and detailed information. The reasons why the book is so good are the following:
- It describes both the tactical, the operational and the strategic levels. This provides the reader with a full picture
- It analyzes the cause of the events in a clear and logical manner
- The pedagogical design is brilliant, with photographs and sketches inserted into the text.
- Christer Bergström’s famous writing style makes the book an easy read .
- The numerous chapter notes makes the book's content is very credible.
- The most interesting thing about the book is that some previous assertions have to be revised, such as that the Battle of the Bulge was over when the Patton relieved Bastogne. Other news is that Manteuffel considered the plan to be ’brillant.’ There is much, much more of the same kind! Many myths are convincingly dispelled.
The reading is also facilitated by the appendices – explanations of technical words / abbreviations, equipment tables, various glossaries, technicl comparison tables, etc.’
Lars Gyllenhaal, military historian and writer, member of the Swedish Military History Commission:
’A milestone in Swedish World War II literature … provides many insights both about the battle and the belligerent tactics of both sides.’
Review by Kim Worsch at Amazon.com on 4 December 2013:
(5 stars out of 5 possible)
The battle of the Bulge in a new light!
'This is a heavy book, both in weight and in contents. It has the usual Bergström approach of telling both side of the story in great detail both strategic and tactical. He dare to challenge many of the myths of the battle and corrects many “facts” originating from both post war German accounts and books mainly portraying the allied side. For example the German “fuel crisis” and the myth that they didn’t have enough fuel at the start of the offensive is laid to rest and are explained more as transport difficulties and as a result of the Allied air force later in the campaign. He finds praise and critique on both sides. The badly lead 6th SS Panzer Army is a prime example as well as the failure of allied intelligence in foretelling the offensive but also commends the German side in organizing and preparing the attack. The all important efforts by the allied air forces in stopping the German offensive is described in great detail but also the German defensive successes after the liberation of Bastogne when the battle “ended” in many English written accounts..
Review by Swedish military history expert Lars-Göran Dedorson:
'A mammoth work of Mr. Bergström. If you like Cornelius Ryan, Antony Beevor and others .... This book is a notch better!'
Martin Mansson, famous and well-versed international expert of World War II and the author of several books on the subject, gives a first review of the book Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler's winter offensive:
’I have had the great privilege to read Christer Bergström's book The Ardennes 1944-1945: Hitler's winter offensive. Without exaggerating, I have never seen anything like this in the military history genre. Without doubt, this will become a major work of reference on this last German offensive. Certainly, Christer is well-known and well-versed, but this is the best I have read from his pen. The book is highly recommendable and I do not think that anyone will be disappointed.’
Review by military expert Bengt Högberg on 24 October 2013 :
’Extremely interesting and thorough!
War obviously is a topic where everyone involved tries to twist the ’truth’ to their own advantage.This also applies to the empirical studies in business administration (which happens to be my subject), where empirical data are based on interviews. It is important for the researcher to 'see through' self-interests.
The book The Adennes 1944-1945 is a representative of the new trend, a more scientific approach: this penetrates the information from all the parties involved and seeks to provide a synthesis.
World War II literature previously has largely reflected the perspective of one side, and has been based on that side's information (perhaps a little unfair , but there is some truth in the characteristic) . I have also read Kamen Nevenkin, which I think represents the same school as Bergström. Even David Glantz’s articles of Stalingrad is worth mentioning in this context.’
Excerpts from a review by Ronnie G. Lundin in Swedish newspaper Gotland Nyheter on 1 October 2013 :
’If you want to know everything, and I mean absolutely everything , about the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-1945, this book you should read. I have read quite a few World War II books, but this is the most comprehensive of them all.
It is a well-written book, the author has put so much work into finding facts and compare the statistics of casualties on both sides.
The prevalent conception of history is that the Battle of the Bulge was over in that the encirclement of Bastogne was broken at Christmas 1944. Bergström shows that the battle continued for just over a month after that, with heavy losses on both sides.’