The Last Battle Author:Cornelius Ryan The date is Monday, April 16, 1945. Less than thirty-eight miles from the center of Berlin, the thunder and flash of a stupefying artillery barrage signal the beginning of the Russians' attack against the capital of the thousand Year Reich. Some forty-five miles to the west, the advanced units of the U.S. Ninth Army are turning back, angry, and ... more »reluctant to obey the Supreme Commander's order to withdraw when the last great prize of the war is within their reach. In fourteen days, the Fuhrer would be dead; in twenty-one days the war against Germany would be over.
"The Last Battle" is the story of those three weeks, in which the city of Berlin, gutted, smoldering, terrorized, yet still miraculously alive, was the focal point of millions of lives: the fast obstacle of triumphant allies, the last defense for the Germans, the last refuge for the Fuhrer-and already, to those who could see the pattern of the future, the preordained source of a new world conflict.
"The Last Battle" is a book of extraordinary suspense and drama, a sweeping record of what people saw, felt, thought in those three climactic weeks of Germany's Gotterdammerung. But beyond its incomparable narrative, "The Last Battle" is a work of prime historical importance-for Mr. Ryan makes public, for the first time, a wealth of new material that leads to a reassessment of the hitherto accepted story of the end of the war in Europe, and answers the questions that have remained at the heart of the War: Why were the Russians allowed to reach Berlin first? Why was the city isolated deep in their zone of occupation?
Mr. Ryan, working with the worldwide research facilities of "Readers Digest", interviewed hundreds of participants in the great events of Berlin's fall, from surviving members of Hitler's entourage to Marshals of the Soviet Union, from American privates to German housewives, from a Berlin milkman to an Allied spy. The result is a masterfully integrated story, in which the minutiae of individual life are set against the movements of great armies, and incidents of courage, cowardice, nobility and bestiality are woven into a complex account of military and political strategy. He takes the reader into the innermost councils of the war leaders, of the diplomats furiously maneuvering for postwar advantage-and into the feelings of the civilians and soldiers who lived through the weeks, days, hours and moments of "The Last Battle".« less