Book Review: The Last Battle

The Last Battle

The Last Battle by Stephen Harding was a total impulse purchase. A different Stephen recommended it and I picked up the audio with an Audible credit.

For those who’ve not listened to the Sabaton track with the same name. It’s the siege of Schloss Itter in the Tyrols. Essentially there are some VIP French prisoners held in a castle during WW2. They manage to get help from a variety of sources. Initially relieved by a small contingent US and Wehrmacht troops but are then besieged by SS troops until an armoured column of US troops completed their rescue.

The book’s first half consists of short biographies of important figures (the prisoners, Lee & Gangl, the local resistance, the prison warden). This drags on more than I’d like. It seems to exist to set the scene for the disagreements and cliques between the French during their imprisonment.

One the biographies are over there are some excellent tales. Jean Borotra’s multiple escape attempts which ultimately helped him escape during the battle and raise the US assistance. A lot of very successful blagging through security checkpoints. Andreas Krobot’s bicycle adventure to get the message to the allies in the first place.

This would have made an excellent post war WW2 film. StudioCanal seemed interested in 2015 but nothing came of it.

The narration of the book was pretty terrible. Some wild pronunciations of German and French words. Quite a few odd accents. Listening to the descriptions of the castle, village, and routes taken left me wishing I had some maps and photos. The book has two maps which I’ve now seen, a much better experience with paper. I’d still like to see a bit more, especially the larger distance routes that the various people took. This might turn it into a war nerd book but I think it already is.

I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Sabaton track and you should definitely go for the physical book. To anyone else? Probably skip it.