The first page of the Preface gives stark reference to the toll these battles inflicted. Fighting in Prussian was bitter on land (and at sea) producing huge migrations of Europeans and "three of the five worst recorded losses of life at sea". Also noted in the Preface is the book's intent to fill in the blanks of the waning but brutal months of the Second World War. Having read scores of WW2 histories focusing on Europe, the majority of them cover Stalingrad and Kursk then skip to Normandy, spend some time on the Bulge and then wrap-up with the fall of Berlin. Buttar ambitiously shines a light on a relatively uncovered part of history but with varied success.
Admittedly, the book is well researched and contains ample detail. He also chooses to intersperse significant first hand recollections and military reports in an attempt to add personal, credible content. Yet, this history would have benefited from a more ruthless editor for pace, flow, clarity, and comprehension. All of the base materials are there but the outcome is messy and not well organized. It is the author's first nonfiction outing and on that score he has performed extremely well. I am hopeful that he will continue and improve with other efforts as he stands to develop the skills I admire in historians like Beevor, Ryan, and Atkinson. These authors know how to engage, inform, educate, and entertain with narrative styles that do not compromise detail and accuracy as they tell a story rather than document dry, academic history.