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11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge,…
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11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944 (2006)

by Stanley Weintraub

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A historical snapshot of what happened to US and Allied forces during the western front push through the Ardennes to Berlin with the ultimate goal of ending the war. The author tries to balance the experiences of the US combat soldier with the stress suffered by their commanders. This book tries to humanize the battlefield with personal stories interspersed that give more information than US governmental newsreels. At best, this book illustrates the competing goals of the various combatants, German and Allied both. The Allies themselves had unusually crossed aims for periods of time. The book seems to want to emphasize the juxtaposition of war conducted during Christmastime which the author covered in a previous work on World War I (which I have not read). Hence the prominence of Patton's enlisting the Catholic chaplain's efforts for the lifting of weather and the incongruous homily by another Catholic chaplain during Christmas Mass. The general thrust of the book underlines the misuse of US airborne troops as mechanized infantry, the greenness of replacement troops and their timid leadership and finally the triumph of Patton's armored division to restart the thrust to cross the Rhine in spite of Montgomery's reluctance to fight offensively. Name index, 8 pages of b/w photos, bibliographical sources to chapters. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Dec 29, 2010 |
Weintraub makes it clear that this is no scholarly military history of the Bulge campaign, but I can't in good conscience describe this as even an effective or successful narrative history of incidents in and around the Ardennes during Christmas of 1944. The text within the book is loosely connected by an implied timeline which is reflected in the chapter headings, but the paragraphs within are disjointed, factoid-like, and many are even just plain superfluous. I kept thinking that the book would have been better organized by bullet-points, as that would have more clearly presented Weintraub's extensively-researched notes about the relationships between commanding generals, meals eaten during Christmas on the front lines, and reflections of individual soldiers, as opposed to stringing together dozens of unrelated facts about the subject at hand. In short, I felt that every paragraph in this book was like starting a new chapter, and that made the slog through it incredibly tedious and rather unenjoyable. In addition to this, the two reproduced operational maps within the book were virtually useless to even the most scrutinizing reader, as many of the places and units mentioned throughout the book were never seen on them. This contributed to the feeling of being removed from what the author was trying to describe and obscured any clear flow of information through the text.

I understand that Weintraub is a celebrated and prolific author, but this is my first of his books and I'm not optimistic about my chances with his others, many of which have subjects that are highly interesting to me. I would commend the author on his research, but would direct him to a format that is more befitting to his presentation of information, perhaps along the lines of Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke or Studs Terkel's The Good War. Both of these have disassociated paragraphs that describe pointed happenings, memories, or vignettes of the events in WWII and read much more clearly and in a satisfying manner. ( )
1 vote funkyplaid | Apr 3, 2010 |
I would disagree with the quote on the back of the book which says "well written." I suspect this book was quickly cobbled from work being done on a much larger history of the European theater of operations during WWII in order to fulfill a request or publishing contract. This book needed organization, more and better maps, a timeline, and a list of officers from both sides with their divisions included in order to help the average reader. Weintraub would give the full name of a general once, and thereafter only refer to him my last name (or nickname). For Eisenhower, Patton, and Montgomery, Hitler, Jodl, that's perhaps acceptable. But for most of the others it just leaves the reader confused. This was a mercifully short book, but even so there were pages of material included which, though perhaps interesting, had nothing to do with the Battle of the Bulge. It was merely padding. I woundn't recommend either this book or this writer. ( )
1 vote whymaggiemay | Dec 8, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stanley Weintraubprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074328710X, Hardcover)

In 11 Days In December, master historian and biographer Stanley Weintraub tells the remarkable story of the Battle of the Bulge as it has never been told before, from frozen foxholes to barn shelters to boxcars packed with wretched prisoners of war.

In late December 1944, as the Battle of the Bulge neared its climax, a German loudspeaker challenge was blared across GI lines in the Ardennes: "How would you like to die for Christmas?" In the inhospitable forest straddling Belgium, France, and Luxembourg, only the dense, snow-laden evergreens recalled the season. Most troops hardly knew the calendar day they were trying to live through, or that it was Hitler's last, desperate effort to alter the war's outcome.

Yet the final Christmas season of World War II matched desperation with inspiration. When he was offered an ultimatum to surrender the besieged Belgian town of Bastogne, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe defied the Germans with the memorable one-word response, "Nuts!" And as General Patton prayed for clear skies to allow vital airborne reinforcements to reach his trapped men, he stood in a medieval chapel in Luxembourg and spoke to God as if to a commanding general: "Sir, whose side are you on?" His prayer was answered. The skies cleared, the tide of battle turned, and Allied victory in World War II was assured.

Christmas 1944 proved to be one of the most fateful days in world history. Many men did extraordinary things, and extraordinary things happened to ordinary men. "A clear cold Christmas," Patton told his diary, "lovely weather for killing Germans, which seems a bit queer, seeing whose birthday it is." Peace on earth and good will toward men would have to wait.

11 Days in December is unforgettable.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An account of the 1944 Battle of the Bulge between Allied forces and Hitler's surviving army describes how Germany broke through Allied lines in the Ardennes Forest, sparking a ten-day conflict that proved pivotal to the war's outcome.

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