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The Belief in a Just World: A Fundamental Delusion
Melvin Lerner

The Battle: A Novel

The Battle - Patrick Rambaud, Will Hobson Toland is trying really hard to make this objective so I guess that's good for him. I try to remember that it was the 50s and "objective" was not really the same as it is now, but there are some big problems with this narrative. It is almost entirely from the American point of view. The sporadic accounts of Germans are either from the perspective of generals (one colonel I believe) or from the experiences of Belgian and Luxembourg citizens or American soldiers. It's something like 75% American, 10% citizen and 5% German (maybe not quite that skewed, but close) in terms of the sources that actually made the book. Then there's the British thing. The British aren't included except for a couple of Montgomery's letters and his press conference. Montgomery is portrayed as a villain by the American sources and though Toland attempts to show that Montgomery's point of view was somewhat justified, he only does this occasionally whereas he lets the American anti-Montomery stuff pop through constantly. In fact, the American generals come off as a little paranoid about him (especially Bradley by the end of the book). Due to his reliance on first person accounts, it is sometimes hard to get a sense of exactly what was happening. Maybe we still don't know but it seems like he could have created a better overall picture. On the positive side are those first person accounts: there are loads of them and they are compelling. He does attempt to follow at least a majority of them through the course of the narrative. The epilogue is another issue. He tries make grand pronouncements about the battle and about what it supposedly did for the US that don't really fit with the personal narratives. I guess the biggest of my many issues with this book is that he perpetuates the myth of the "birth of the American fighting man": the idea that American soldiers were of a certain type up to the Bulge and the Bulge changed everything. Give me a break. That is so weak it doesn't even deserve refuting.