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Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Book Award
If the Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last gasp, it was also America's proving ground-the largest single action fought by the U.S. Army in World War II. Taking a new approach to an old story, Harold Winton widens our field of vision by showing how victory in this legendary campaign was built upon the remarkable resurrection of our truncated interwar army, an overhaul that produced the effective commanders crucial to GI success in beating back the Ardennes counteroffensive launched by Hitler's forces.
Winton's is the first study of the Bulge to examine leadership at the largely neglected level of corps command. Focusing on the decisions and actions of six Army corps commanders--Leonard Gerow, Troy Middleton, Matthew Ridgway, John Millikin, Manton Eddy, and J. Lawton Collins--he recreates their role in this epic struggle through a mosaic of narratives that take the commanders from the pre-war training grounds of America to the crucible of war in the icy-cold killing fields of Belgium and Luxembourg.
Winton introduces the story of each phase of the Bulge with a theater-level overview of the major decisions and events that shaped the corps battles and, for the first time, fully integrates the crucial role of airpower into our understanding of how events unfolded on the ground. Unlike most accounts of the Ardennes that chronicle only the periods of German and American initiative, Winton's study describes an intervening middle phase in which the initiative was fiercely contested by both sides and the outcome uncertain. His inclusion of the principal American and German commanders adds yet another valuable layer to this rich tapestry of narrative and analysis.
Ultimately, Winton argues that the flexibility of the corps structure and the competence of the men who commanded the six American corps that fought in the Bulge contributed significantly to the ultimate victory. Chronicling the human drama of commanding large numbers of soldiers in battle, he has produced an artful blend of combat narrative, collective biography, and institutional history that contributes significantly to the broader understanding of World War II as a whole. With the recent modularization of the U.S. Army division, which makes this command echelon a re-creation of the corps of World War II, Corps Commanders of the Bulge also has distinct relevance to current issues of Army transformation.