Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by Martin Bull, Jan 30, 2015.
If your trying to make us jealous....
Long distance jealousy down here...Would you care for the responsibility of reviewing your evening of Beevoring..?
How many signatures will you be looking for... Good luck and God speed!
Oh, oh, oh.....hmmmmmm........................
The Beevor book hit the shops today and I got my copy. A quick browse through coming home raises the old problem.......how much should we expect ?
I mean, the great thing about Caddick-Adams book is that he's a self-confessed Bulge fanatic ; been studying the battle and walking the battlefields for 30 years , reading absolutely every book and article he could find. I just couldn't 'beat' his bibliography - every book I'd ever heard of was in there. But it's probably not a book to appeal to 'Joe Public' whose interest is only in-passing. Which is, I guess, who AB and his publishers are directly addressing.
So people like me, pistol, Skylinedrive, von Poop and many others on this forum may end up wincing like me. First off - a Bulge bibliography with no Reynolds or Cavanagh and only one Parker title is going to seem a little underpowered. OK, OK - I've had over 30 years to read all those books in my collection whereas I'd guess AB has had 18 months or so, but it shows in little niggling ways.
Such as, on my first browse, the old canard about Peiper 'himself' driving a Panther 80 miles through the night just before the offensive ( p.95). He was far too busy with admin matters at that time ; he delegated the job to Hans Hennecke ( a myth finally put to bed by Parker ). And did a US Lieutenant really 'stalk a Mk VI Tiger with a bazooka and knock it out' ( p.151 ) - in front of Krinkelt-Rocherath ? Which Tiger fought there.......?
And that's before I start really getting into the book. Now, others may quite rightly say 'So what ?'....I'm not the target market etc.
But those little 'Bulge myths' which just seem to go on and on do rather niggle me. :eh:
Now, will I have the nerve to stand up next Thursday and shout 'Oi ! Peiper never did that !' etc....? gre:
As I understand it, you can't copyright a title. I've seen different books with the same title, although I can't think of an example right now. A few years ago there were two completely different movies titled Sahara, one an adaptation of a Clive Cussler novel, the other a remake of the classic Humphrey Bogart WWII film.
Re:Beevor Bulge In regard to the Peiper story of his late night recon 'mission'...I remember reading SS Peiper. his biography by Charles Whiting and the same story is told there...Martin Bull seems to be quite a bit more well read than myself..But onward and upward..The more I read the more I can compare..I really enjoyed Stalingrad and Berlin...
The only book about Peiper worth reading is Jens Westemeier's Ph. D. thesis "Himmlers Krieger". Unfortunately it has not been translated into English yet. Everything else is just a regurgitation of the HIAG's lies and fairy tales! I would love to know if there is some substance to the rumors of Danny S. Parker and Jens Westemeier working together on a work about the Waffen SS in the Ardennes campaign?!?
Well, did you? Not that I'd shame you if you didn't, sometimes the social conventions dictate we just shut up and be polite. But, I'm curious about the talk - how did it go?
Well, I sat right at the front and there's no doubt that Mr Beevor does this sort of thing very well ( and I'll bet he gets plenty of practice ).
So, a 45-minute talk about the genesis and overall framework of the Ardennes offensive which would be fine for those whose interest in the subject was not specialized ( which seemed to fit the audience ). A few non-awkward questions from the audience and - interestingly - Mr B really seemed to 'warm up' whenever the Eastern Front was mentioned.
And there's the rub - the Ardennes just isn't his 'thing'. Amazon is full of gushing reviews for this book but for me, it's one of his most disappointing efforts. Whenever he gets onto KG Peiper, the errors come thick and fast. The attack on Stavelot, for instance. It closely follows Peiper's own version from the ETHINT files ( much questioned by subsequent historians ). After crossing the Stavelot Bridge, they drive on to Trois Ponts where the bridges are blown in front of them.
Beevor then has KG Peiper returning to Stavelot to take the Northern bank of the Ambleve .
Of course, they were already on the Northern bank - when the bridges were blown, they turned right through the railway arches to La Gleize.
That's pretty basic stuff....disappointing ( and I'm a fan ).
And that's before I get onto those Tigers which, in this book, seemingly keep popping up all over the Ardennes.........
Thank you for your summary of the event. I am sure it was interesting to say the least. Do you think, based on your observations, that he just lacked the effort in this book and mainly wanted to expand his expertise and audience?
I've actually had a lively discussion of this with my Wife ( a Beevor fan ) and it's a tricky one. I think that the difference between, say, Caddick-Adams and Beevor is worth considering.
C-A is not a professional author and is obviously passionate about the Ardennes ( studying the battle in-depth for 30 years, a professional battlefield guide, etc ). So he condenses all those years and all that reading into his book, and fortunately turns out to be a capable writer, too. I guess, if the publisher suddenly said ' Hey - that was great. Can you write us a book about ******* ? ' ( insert any other subject ) the result wouldn't be as good.
AB is a professional writer and needs to get a book out around every couple of years in the same way that I have to turn up for work on Monday morning. OK, that's a fact of life and I can make allowance for that.
But in this case, Beevor has focussed his research heavily on ETHINT etc ( ie official sources ) and has fallen into the same kind of traps that Toland and Whiting have fallen into in the past. I'm still a fan - but a disappointed one with this book.
But, as I say, I'm a Bulge 'nutter' - I'm looking forward to taking Greg Walden's 'Tigers In The Ardennes' with me on vacation next month ; I think it'll be more my cup of tea.
Appreciate your synopsis Martin. As a fan of Beevor myself, it's refreshing to hear and honest take on his work.
I've just finished it and as a Beevor fan I have to confess I'm quite disappointed.
Aside from the final gamble cliché if you're going to call your book "The Ardennes" it not unreasonable to expect a book about the Ardennes, but the first third is about the Normandy breakout and the Huertgen forest.
Don't get me wrong, I would cherish a detailed book on the post-Cobra charge across France as I would a good book about the Huertgen but here it is just sketched in and that's the problem with this book: key actions such as the 99th ID's stand in the woods and the 1st ID's defence of Dom. Butgenbach warrant a couple of sentences. No attempt is made to explain why there was such relief when KG Peiper resumed their assigned route instead of smashing through and cutting off the retreat to Elsenborn.
Likewise, the defence of the Skyline drive gets a mention but there's is no feeling for the desperate defence of isolated road junctions and villages by the 28th ID and small task forces fro 9th & 10th ADs
Aside from that there are a number of errors that a simple Google would have resolved: Martin Bull has already mentioned KG Peiper returning to Stavelot instead of heading up to Coo but Lt Col Matt Konop is demoted to Lieutenant; the commander of 245th AFAB, Lt Col Roy Udell Clay is called Maximilian Clay; the 82nd Airborne were at Suippes not Mourmelon etc. etc
While I'm on the subject, what is the fascination for Bulge authors with Ernest Hemingway? aside from getting bladdered in the rear echelon what does he bring to the story?
Fixed that for you.
And to be fair, John S. D. Eisenhower makes the same mistake in his 1969 "The Bitter Woods: The Battle of the Bulge"...Clay is identified as Maximillian on pg 233, and, correctly, as Roy Udell on pg 287.(from the 1995 De Capo Press reprint).
Perhaps, this was the source material for the mistake? Still, it indicates a lack of detailed research.
Thanks Takao, you can probably see the glow from my red face from where you are
I'm annoyed with myself because I've noted that error myself - perhaps I should stick to the day job
Don't beat yourself up too much, after all, it happens to all of us at one time or another.
I've done the same thing and, like you, was embarrassed when it was pointed out.
No harm, no foul.
I'd actually ignored all the Hemingway references - the story about Hemingway carrying one canteen of gin and one of vermouth (or whatever) into battle is now generally regarded as yet another myth generated by the man himself and perpetuated by others such as John Groth and Carlos Baker.
Going back to Peiper, it's interesting that Beevor cites none of Michael Reynolds' works in his bibliography. In 'The Devils Adjutant' on p60 we find a very wise caution about relying too much on Peiper's own statements : 'But we shall discover that much of what (Peiper) said after the war had little in common with the facts as later revealed and can often be seen as excuses for things which did not work out...'