Those Who Hold Bastogne


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The True Story of the Soldiers and Civilians Who Fought in the Biggest Battle of the Bulge

Peter Schrijvers

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A new telling of the brutal siege of Bastogne, where vastly outnumbered American forces held off a savage German onslaught and sealed the fate of the Third Reich

Hitler’s last gamble, the Battle of the Bulge, was intended to push the Allied invaders of Normandy all the way back to the beaches. The plan nearly succeeded, and almost certainly would have, were it not for one small Belgian town and its tenacious American defenders who held back a tenfold larger German force while awaiting the arrival of General George Patton’s mighty Third Army.

In this dramatic account of the 1944–45 winter of war in Bastogne, historian Peter Schrijvers offers the first full story of the German assault on the strategically located town. From the December stampede of American and Panzer divisions racing to reach Bastogne first, through the bloody eight-day siege from land and air, and through three more weeks of unrelenting fighting even after the siege was broken, events at Bastogne hastened the long-awaited end of WWII. Schrijvers draws on diaries, memoirs, and other fresh sources to illuminate the experiences not only of Bastogne’s 3,000 citizens and their American defenders, but also of German soldiers and commanders desperate for victory. The costs of war are here made real, uncovered in the stories of those who perished and those who emerged from battle to find the world forever changed.

Peter Schrijvers, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, is the author of five previous books on World War II. 

"A fast-paced story. . . . Schrijvers does an admirable job of weaving personal accounts into the larger picture of Bastogne’s horrors."—Wall Street Journal

Five-starred review —Alex Kershaw, Goodreads

"An excellent account of the battle for Bastogne, both well-researched and well-written."—Antony Beevor

"Using fresh sources and deft writing, Peter Schrijvers develops a panoramic and compelling boots-on-the-ground illumination of one of the Bulge's most epic battles."—Patrick K. O'Donnell, author of Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc - Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe

"A pulse-pounding story . . . the first thorough treatment of the famous battle for Bastogne."—John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach

"Gripping . . . visceral . . . an engaging and engrossing narrative."—Adam Seipp, H-Net

"Those who Hold Bastogne is the first study of the Battle of the Bulge to focus on the fight in Bastogne and the role of the civilians who were caught up in the battle.Well-researched, it chronicles the battle day by day and often hour by hour. Within the narrative, numerous individual memoirs are included, giving an ‘up close and personal’ element to the story."—J.W. Thacker, The Bowling Green Daily News

"Bastogne was a month-long battle of attrition, a desperate grapple between Germans and Americans. Yet until now its tale has never been told separately. Schrijvers combines clear operational narrative with compelling vignettes from three perspectives: those who fought to hold Bastogne, those who sought to capture it, and those caught in the crossfire. Soldiers or civilians, their stories establish war’s human dimension – and its inhuman face."—Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler's Panzers. The Lightning Attacks that Revolutionized Warfare

"A lively account of the fighting."—Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs

"It provides a more vivid and nuanced picture of the crucial fighting for control of Bastogne than any other book."—James J. Weingartner, author of Crossroads of Death: The Story of the Malmedy Massacre and Trial

"Peter Schrijvers writes with the confidence and authority of someone who has been immersed in the subject for many years. His effective use of vivid civilian testimony means one sees the Battle of the Bulge through the eyes of the Belgians caught up in it, as well as of the American and German troops."—Jonathan Fryer, writer and broadcaster

"A highly informative and entertaining work by a Battle of the Bulge expert, Peter Schrijvers’ Those Who Hold Bastogne contributes significantly to our knowledge of this pivotal World War II battle."—Joseph Balkoski, author of Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944

Praise for Peter Schrijvers' Previous Books on World War II:

The Crash of Ruin: American Combat Soldiers in Europe during World War II:
"A masterpiece."—The Atlantic
"Unflinching."—Paul Fussell, Winner of the National Book Award for The Great War and Modern Memory

The GI War Against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II:
"Terrifying . . . remarkable . . . this temperate study of murderous fury is among the most unsettling books I've read in years."—Benjamin Schwarz, Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Excellence in Book Criticism

The Unknown Dead: Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge:
"Deeply moving, and at times shocking."—William Hitchcock, Pulitzer Prize Nominee for The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe

Liberators: The Allies and Belgian Society, 1944-1945
"An excellent and stimulating book."—The Times Literary Supplement
ISBN: 9780300216141
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
328 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
26 b/w illus.