11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944
Authored by Stanley Weintraub, Narrated by Patrick Cullen
Audiobook, 5 hours and 28 minutes
Published by Blackstone Audio
11 Days in December is set in the Battle of the Bulge, starting in the days immediately before the Germans launched their Ardennes offensive and ending at Christmas. This book is not the history of an individual unit nor a description of the overall campaign, instead it is a series of individual anecdotes set within the context of the battle.
Many of these are from Generals and senior staff, likely due to the preservation of their correspondence. It was surprising how many senior Allied officers (and their extensive staffs) were planning on taking extended Christmas holidays in Paris. Many of their letters center around political intrigue and preserving or enhancing their reputations. For their part, the Allied leadership was caught completely unaware by the German offensive.
At the level of the common soldier the period was characterized by the cold and lack of logistical support. Allied airpower was grounded by the weather, and the troops lacked basics such as ammunition and food, many lacked proper winter clothing. Often it proved impossible to evacuate the wounded and medical supplies were scarce.
By telling the story of the Battle of the Bulge through individual anecdotes the author has sacrificed any semblance of continuity. The narrative jumps around from place to place, unit to unit. Loose ends are not tied up. This makes it hard to put all the little snippets into context. If the reader is not already familiar with the progress of the battle it would be helpful to have the Osprey Campaign 115 & 145 books handy. However, if you are looking for personal perspectives this book can provide them.