Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mary Louise Sanchez:The Battle of the Bulge

Since it's January, many people may think this post addresses weight loss. I am Mary Louise Sanchez, and yes, I need to fight the battle of the bulge too. However, our blog addresses middle grade historical fiction books, so I'd like to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge that took place from December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945, and was Hitler's last gamble to win WWII.
Google Images - thenewstalkers.com
He wanted to recapture the port of Antwerp, Belgium and believed the Allied forces, especially the Americans, were not strong in the western part of Europe and so decided to attack them in the heavily forested Ardennes region, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg but also in Germany and France. 

Hitler's plan was to split the allies in their drive towards Germany in a surprise attack by using the bad weather, which his meteorologists forecast; frozen roads to enable the German tanks to press forward; and  the special forces Panzer units.

The initial attack by the Germans caused a bulge in the Allied front line, thus, this offensive became better known as the Battle of the Bulge, rather than the Ardennes Offensive.  Because the Nazis needed much fuel for this offensive and the allied air power destroyed most of the supply, the mission was doomed from the beginning. Hitler also underestimated the camaraderie of the allied forces, and clear skies on December 23, which allowed Allied planes to drop supplies for the divisions. 

Google Images

Sometimes we get caught up in the Invasion of Normandy at D-Day, but forget or don't know that the Battle of the Bulge was the largest battle fought by the Americans in World War II. 600,000 American troops were involved in the battle. The Americans lost 81,000 men, while the Germans lost 100,000 killed, wounded and captured soldiers.

January 27, 2015 is also an important book anniversary, because two bloggers, Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, have joined forces for the second year on the website, Multicultural Children's Book Day,  to raise awareness about the need for books that celebrate diversity; and to get these books into the classrooms and libraries. 

To recognize both the Battle of the Bulge and Multicultural Children's Book Day, I highly recommend Dog Tags-Prisoners of War by C. Alexander London published by Scholastic Inc. in 2013 for our middle grade and older readers. Boys, in particular, will thank you for adding this paperback book, from the Dog Tag series, to your collection of war books.

  I've been researching the Battle of the Bulge lately for my work-in-progress set in 1944 and 1945. Thus, I recognized many instances in the story where the author embedded research into the story.

In the book I learned that dark skinned American soldiers, who were not African American, were rounded up with their Jewish American brothers in arms and sent to concentration camps. This story was inspired by the life of Anthony Acevedo, a Mexican American medic. 

The protagonist of the story is an Hispanic medic, Miguel Rivera, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Some of my direct ancestors founded this settlement in the 1700s and you can see their names on a mural in Old Town). The  new friend Miguel is trying to save from the German captors, using their own dog, is Mike Goldsmith, a Jewish American from New York. I give the author kudos for making his protagonist Hispanic. In my research of the Battle of the Bulge, for my work-in-progress, Ken Burns made no mention of the important role Hispanics played in WWII in his book and his PBS special, based on the book. 

To put my research to work, in 2015 I will be posting information about WWII historical fiction and nonfiction books I've read. As I've been reading  about the Battle of the Bulge, I have to remind myself that my husband was only six months old at the time and I wasn't even born.

Be sure and tell me some of your favorite WWII books.


  1. Great post, Mary Louise! One of my favorite WWII books for middle school readers is Soldier Boys, by Dean Hughes. This novel also uses a lot of research, which I recognized from my own studies. It follows two soldiers: one American and one German, so it shows a balanced point of view and shows universal reasons why young men rush to war.

  2. Thank you for the book recommendation. I'll have to read it.

  3. Wow! Lengthy post, Mary Louise! Beautifully done, and I can see it leading to others for you.

  4. One book I bought recently, for grandchildren, was a middle grade, 'Saving Zacha' - I forget the author (shame, shame!), loved it myself. It is about a Russian child who finds a dying man. He has with him a beautiful, pregnant, German Shepherd - a breed the Russians would destroy, such was their hatred of the Nazis. No-one has as yet commented on it, but I would recommend it.

  5. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  6. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.