Synopses & Reviews
May 1945. Hitler is dead, and the Third Reich little more than smoking rubble. No GI wants to be the last man killed in action against the Nazis. But for cigar-chewing, rough-talking, hard-drinking, hard-charging Captain Jack Lee and his men, there is one more mission: rescue fourteen prominent French prisoners held in an SS-guarded castle high in the Austrian Alps. Itandrsquo;s a dangerous mission, but Lee has help from a decorated German Wehrmacht officer and his men, who voluntarily join the fight.
Based on personal memoirs, author interviews, and official American, German, and French histories, The Last Battle is the nearly unbelievable story of the most improbable battle of World War IIandmdash;a tale of unlikely allies, bravery, cowardice, and desperate combat between implacable enemies.
Advance praise for The Last Battle
Rick Atkinson, author ofand#160;The Day of Battle
and#147;A tale as compelling as it is unlikely. The Last Battle demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, particularly in war. Well-researched and well-told.and#8221;
Alan Furst, bestselling author ofand#160;Dark Starand#160;andNight Soldiers
and#147;Stephen Harding has a laser-beam instinct for the detail that tells the story, heand#8217;s a fine writer, and, most important, knows a good story when he sees one. All the above is true of The Last Battle, one of the more remarkable battles in a truly vast war, now very nicely illuminated.and#8221;
Alex Kershaw, bestselling author ofand#160;The Liberator
and#147;A little-known but fascinating story brought brilliantly to life.and#8221;
Patrick K. Oand#8217;Donnell, bestselling author ofand#160;Dog Company
and#147;I love untold stories from World War II, and this is a great one. Brilliantly told, meticulously researched, and filled with larger-than-life heroes and villains. The Last Battle is such a compelling read, I couldnand#8217;t put it down.and#8221;
John C. McManus, author ofand#160;September Hope
and#147;The Last Battle combines good history and good storytelling. Harding writes with the skill and grace of a novelist but also the authority of an historian who has done some rather remarkable research into a previously lost chapter from World War IIand#8217;s final days. I had trouble putting this book down, and I think you will, too.and#8221;
Peter Carlson, author ofand#160;K Blows Top
and#147;The Nazis capture two former Prime Ministers of France (who detest each other) and lock them in a medieval castle in Austria. A handful of intrepid American soldiers sets out to rescue them. And then...well, youand#8217;ll have to read The Last Battle to find out what happened. Itand#8217;s going to make a fantastic action movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, call your agent!and#8221;
San Diego Union Tribune, 4/28/13
and#147;At the heart of The Last Battle is a largely unknown story that (a) seems implausible, (b) would make a great movie, and (c) reminds us that almost 70 years after the end of World War II there are countless tales still to be toldand#133;Hardingand#8217;s skills as a researcher and dedicated historian are apparentand#133;[A] moment-by-moment real-time report of the events from the viewpoints of the Americans and prisonersand#133;Page-turningand#133;Harding has brought the implausible story to life.and#8221;
New York Journal of Books, 4/29/13 and#147;Well done and eminently readable.and#8221;
Daily Beast, 5/12/13 and#147;The most extraordinary things about Stephen Harding's The Last Battle, a truly incredible tale of World War II, are that it hasnand#8217;t been told before in English, and that it hasnand#8217;t already been made into a blockbuster Hollywood movieand#133;Steven Spielberg, how did you miss this story?...Harding is a respected military affairs expertand#133;and his writing style carries immediacy as well as authorityand#133;Everything that Harding reports in this exciting but also historically accurate narrative is backed up with meticulous scholarship. This book proves that history can be new and nail-bitingly exciting all at onceand#133;While the book concentrates on the fight for Castle Itter, it also sets that battle in the wider strategic contextsand#133;This book is thus a fascinating microcosm of a nation and society in collapseand#133;Part Where Eagles Dare, part Guns of Navarone, this story is as exciting as it is far-fetched, but unlike in those iconic war movies, every word of The Last Battle is true.and#8221;
Roanoke Times, 6/9/13
and#147;If, in these halcyon days, a Hollywood screenwriter had approached a major producer with a movie script so packed with improbabilities, so extraordinary in its premises and fanciful in its conclusions, he and#151; the screenwriter and#151; would very likely have been shown the doorand#133;.sheer tension and melodramaand#133;Stephen Harding, a career journalist and military historian, has put together a fine tale of heroism and cowardice, petty bickering and unselfish sacrifice, and if Hollywood does not snap it up for an epic film, thatand#8217;s its lossand#133;.A page-turner.and#8221;
ARMY Magazine, 9/1/13
and#147;The book is a very quick readand#133;The Last Battle has the makings of a Hollywood blockbusterand#133; Harding is a gifted storyteller and effective military historian who details the battle and its background with precisionand#133;This compact work is an unqualified success and will prove immensely enjoyable for virtually any reader of ARMY.and#160; With the pace of a tightly-written novel, Harding writes with the determination of a true crime novelist and thoroughness of a first-rate historian.and#8221;
and#147;Harding recounts a fascinating piece of World War II historyand#133;Harding writes an engaging story about a battle that helped save many of Franceand#8217;s political elite from certain death.and#8221;
WWII History Magazine, Dec. 2013
and#147;A finale worthy of Hollywood.and#8221;
America in WWII, Dec. 2013
and#147;A book with a narrative Hollywood could only hope for.and#8221;
The true story of US and German soldiers fighting side by side in the final days of WW II
Based on official American, German,and French histories; personal memoirs; and author interviews; The Last Battle
is the nearly unbelievable true story of the most improbable battle of World War II—a tale of unlikely allies, bravery and cowardice, and desperate combat between implacable enemies.
Steven Spielberg, how did you miss this story? ...Part Where Eagles Dare, part Guns of Navarone, this story is as exciting as it is far-fetched, [yet] every word of The Last Battle is true.”—Andrew Roberts,Daily Beast
Harding has brought this implausible story to life.”—San Diego Union Tribune
A page-turner.”—Roanoke Times
May, 1945. Hitler is dead, the Third Reich is little more than smoking rubble, and no GI wants to be the last man killed in action against the Nazis.
The Last Battle tells the nearly unbelievable story of the unlikeliest battle of the war, when a small group of American tankers, led by Captain Lee, joined forces with German soldiers to fight off fanatical SS troops seeking to capture Castle Itter and execute the stronghold's VIP prisoners. It is a tale of unlikely allies, startling bravery, jittery suspense, and desperate combat between implacable enemies.
About the Author
Stephen Harding was a longtime managing editor at Soldiers, the official U.S. Army magazine, and is currently senior editor at Military History magazine. He has contributed more than 300 articles to various military, aviation and maritime periodicals. As a defense journalist Harding covered has covered the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and, most recently, Iraq.