|Title:||To the last man|
|Editor:||Pen & Sword Books|
In spring 1944 the Allied Forces succeeded to establish a bridgehead at the French coast during Operation Overlord. Followed by a lengthy period of heavy fighting in order to expand the conquered area. The Germans offered serious resistance, which was aided by the unique characteristics of the terrain, lined with its hedges. The many battles that have been fought around here have excessively been described in many cases, but often these were highlighted by historians as standalone stories. In the book, which appeared in 2012, “To the last man” by Randolph Bradham another angle of attack has been chosen. This time not the unique character of the various battles has been looked at but rather the interrelation of all happenings has been studied. The big battle to obtain a firm grip on French territory.
Bradham is World War Two Veteran. He fought the Germans himself in Brittany as a Staff Sergeant. After his return to the USA he became a surgeon. When he retired he started to study the history of the Second World War. In 2003 his first book was edited: “Hitler´s U-Boat Fortresses“. It concerns a study regarding the submarine bases on the French Coast. During the past years Bradham mainly researched the battle on the Corentin peninsula and the fighting in Brittany. In spite of the fact that Bradham participated in the campaign, this book is not an edition of his memoires. It is clearly a study of sources and the literature about the battle of which he was a part in those days.
It goes without saying that Bradham starts his book with a chapter on the amphibious landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944. But the book focusses on the fighting that followed. For example Operations Cobra and Goodwood and the battle for Cherbourg, St. Malo and Brest. He does this by means of descriptions in brief. In fact in such brief that the headings follow each other in fast order. In some cases in less than a whole page. The complete story takes less than two hundred pages and even covering a number of really important battles. One does therefore not find much new information in this book In order to maintain a good overview in this summarized description, a large number of small maps have been included in the book. This surely enhances its readability and enlightens the reader a great deal. Another positive issue of this book are the profiles of the leading personalities. Short personal descriptions of a number of allied and German commanders have been incorporated in the story. In a separate framework of one page up to one and a half page the career of the key person in question is being sketched.
“To the last man” is one of the most recent editions in a long list of publications about the fighting in Normandy. Those that are familiar with this material will find little new information in the book of Bradham. Also people that are looking for an in-depth description of these fights will not find that in this publication. For people with a less detailed knowledge about the battle for the French bridgehead it provides probably an interesting overview. The summarized descriptions, added with the profiles of the most important commanders and the large number of maps may provide them with a clear and precise summary of the complex series of battles that played a role during the summer of 1944 in Normandy.