Tuesday, November 30th, 2004 Steve Edwards, host of Chicago Public Radio's award-winning daily news magazine Eight Forty-Eight, joined us to interview Sir Max Hastings about his new book Armageddon : The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 (Knopf 2004).
Sir Max Hastings was a foreign correspondent for many years, reporting from more than 60 countries for BBC TV and the London Evening Standard. He reported conflict in the Middle East, Indochina, Angola, India, Zimbabwe and finally the 1982 Falklands War. He has presented historical documentaries for television, including series on the Korean War and most recently (2003) on Churchill and his generals. He is recipient of numerous British awards for his books and journalism, including Journalist of the Year (1982), and Editor of the Year (1988). He has written 18 books on military history and current events. Some notables are Bomber Command, which earned the Somerset Maugham Prize for nonfiction, The Battle for the Falklands, Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, both of which also received awards. For 16 years, he was successively editor-in-chief of the British Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard, from which he retired in 2002. He has published two memoirs, Going To The Wars (2000) about his experiences as a war correspondent, and Editor (2003) about his time running newspapers. Now 58, he makes his home outside London and continues to contribute to newspapers on political and defence issues, as well as writing books.
This huge and splendid volume tells the grim tale of the final collapse of the Third Reich. It does so from the viewpoints of the upper millstone (the Western Allies), the lower millstone (the Russians) and the grain being ground in between (the Germans). The research includes previously untapped Russian archives (particularly in the accounts of Soviet veterans) and leads to a gripping and horrifying story that serious students of military history will find almost impossible to put down. The blunders recounted are numerous, from the Allied failure to open Antwerp in the fall of 1944 to the Russian frontal assault on Berlin, and the Wehrmacht is depicted as the best army of the war and also the most atrocious in its treatment of civilians. Indeed, the treatment of civilians is a major theme, since they were slaughtered on a scale unheard of since the Thirty Years' War, and not only the Nazi camp inmates but also the inhabitants of Poland and East Prussia were numbered among the victims. The author hands out praise and blame with his usual edged aplomb (Anglophile readers may be happy to see a partial rehabilitation of Montgomery) and willingness to engender controversy, and also with his usual thorough research and clear writing (along with 24 pages of photos) to sustain every case he makes. His book ranks among the very best military history volumes of the year.
DVD 2004-11-30:Sir Max Hastings
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