Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/News/November 2015/Book reviews

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Generals of the Bulge - Jerry D. Morelock

3/5 stars

By Hawkeye7

According to Amazon, there are about 500 books on the Battle of the Bulge. Lord knows why. This book assumes that you've read a few already, and know the story. If you would like to read an account of the battle, the best one is Hugh M. Cole's The Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge (1965), which you can download for free.

Generals of the Bulge takes a look at the U.S. Army's leadership, using a single example at each level of command. So it covers Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, William H. Simpson, Troy H. Middleton, Alan W. Jones and Bruce C. Clarke. The book is almost entirely written from secondary sources, particularly Cole, Clay Blair and Omar Bradley's A General's Life (1983), Russell F. Weigley's Eisenhower's Lieutenants (1981) and Thomas E. Ricks's The Generals (2012).

Morelock is himself a West Point graduate (class of 1969), with a PhD in military history, writing on the impact of American manpower policies on the conduct of operations in the 1944-45 campaigns in Northwest Europe. Which I personally would probably enjoy reading more. (He's also the editor of Armchair General magazine.) So this book incorporates recent scholarship, while going over many of the old debates, including the 89 Division Gamble, Broad Front versus Narrow Front, and more.

We can see where things stand as of the early 21st century. The Brits' effort to rehabilitate Monty has achieved grudging support on the other side of the Atlantic, with consensus now being that Eisenhower was right in putting Monty in charge of the northern half of the Bulge. Eisenhower's stocks have also risen, and he seems destined, like Ulysses Grant, to be remembered as a general and not a president. On the other hand, Bradley's stocks have slumped badly. The "GI's general" tag was never more than propaganda, his excuses don't hold water now that Americans don't feel so anti-British, and all in all he is well on his way to being remembered as a bumbling butcher.

The choice of Simpson is a bit odd. While not well known outside military history circles, he is generally acknowledged as the best of all the Allied army commanders in North West Europe in 1944-45. The oddity about that is that he graduated so low in his West Point class, leading to inevitable questions about the way U.S. Army officers were trained and selected.

I'm sure the armchair generals will really enjoy this one.

Publishing details: Morelock, Jerry D. (2015). Generals of the Bulge: Leadership in the U.S. Army's Greatest Battle. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-1199-9.


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