The best books on the Battle of the Bulge and the soldiers who fought there

Who am I?

I’ve written two books on the topic of the Battle of the Bulge and countless articles. These are my favorite books on the subject and three of the five books are cited in my own monographs. (Schrijvers wrote his book after I published mine and Kershaw’s work was only tangential to my subject matter).


I wrote...

Patton at the Battle of the Bulge: How the General's Tanks Turned the Tide at Bastogne

By Leo Barron,

Book cover of Patton at the Battle of the Bulge: How the General's Tanks Turned the Tide at Bastogne

What is my book about?

In Patton at the Battle of the Bulge, Army veteran and historian Leo Barron explores one of the most famous yet little-told clashes of WWII, a vitally important chapter in one of history's most legendary battles.

December 1944. For the besieged American defenders of Bastogne, time was running out. Hitler's forces had pressed in on the small Belgian town in a desperate offensive designed to push back the Allies. The U.S. soldiers had managed to repel repeated attacks, but as their ammunition dwindled, the weary paratroopers of the 101st Airborne could only hope for a miracle.

The books I picked & why

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A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge

By Charles B. MacDonald,

Book cover of A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge

Why this book?

MacDonald’s Time for Trumpets was one of the first books I read about the Battle of the Bulge, and it is still one of my favorites. His narrative style is easy to read and almost immediately, you find yourself, shivering in a foxhole, somewhere in the Ardennes, and staring into the morning mist, wondering where the German invaders are. His descriptions of combat are compelling and riveting, and MacDonald’s work does not skip over any major portion of the massive battle that involved a quarter of a million men on both sides. If you have to read one book on the topic of the Battle of the Bulge, this would be the one.


Battle: The Story of the Bulge

By John Toland,

Book cover of Battle: The Story of the Bulge

Why this book?

Compared to Macdonald’s tome, Toland’s book is a far more succinct account of the Battle of the Bulge (If you could call 444 pages succinct!). Toland doesn’t spend a lot of time on exposition. He dives right into the battle after the first twenty pages, which is refreshing because too many authors and historians spend too much time, writing about the build-up before the battle. Before you know it, you’re already halfway through the book and it’s only December 16. Toland avoids that pitfall. His prose is simple and straightforward. If you can’t read a 900-page book about the Bulge, then read Toland’s account.


Those Who Hold Bastogne: The True Story of the Soldiers and Civilians Who Fought in the Biggest Battle of the Bulge

By Peter Schrijvers,

Book cover of Those Who Hold Bastogne: The True Story of the Soldiers and Civilians Who Fought in the Biggest Battle of the Bulge

Why this book?

Unlike Toland’s and MacDonald’s monographs, Schrijvers concentrates his narrative on only a portion of the Battle of the Bulge – the Siege of Bastogne. As a result, he can delve into far greater detail than the other books. In Schrijvers’s book, we read about the individual soldiers and paratroopers who fought the Germans to a standstill and held the vital crossroads town against the odds. In addition, we learn about the civilians who also played a part in the battle for Bastogne. Lastly, the author gives the Germans a voice, too, and you begin to understand what motivated the average German Landser to continue to fight for a cause that was lost. If you enjoyed my books, No Silent Night and Patton at the Battle of the Bulge and you want to know more about Bastogne, this is a good place to start.


The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon

By Alex Kershaw,

Book cover of The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon

Why this book?

If stories of divisions and corps advancing and retreating over battlefields don’t pique your interest, then this book will. Kershaw’s tale of a single reconnaissance platoon under the command of a fresh-faced 1st Lieutenant Lyle Bouck as it fights for its life and delays an entire German kampfgruppe for several crucial hours is the stuff of legend. The platoon’s sacrifice contributed significantly to the eventual defeat of the 6th SS Panzer Army, whose mission was to seize Antwerp. Thanks to Bouck and his understrength platoon, that didn’t happen. I wonder why Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have not made this gripping human interest story into a blockbuster movie. Kershaw’s story, though, doesn’t end with the battle of Lanzerath. He follows the service members as they struggle to survive as prisoners-of-war in various German Stalags, scattered throughout the Reich. If you want to read a story about the personal experiences of soldiers trying to survive the Bulge and the War, this is the story for you.


Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

By John C. McManus,

Book cover of Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

Why this book?

McManus’ book inspired me to write No Silent Night almost as a sequel to his book. Originally, I wanted to write about the entire eleven-day period from December 16 to December 26, 1944 when Patton’s Third Army lifted the siege of Bastogne. McManus’ work covers the initial period of the battle (December 16 to December 21) when the Germans finished their encirclement of Bastogne. His monograph highlights the engagements between the American 28th Infantry Division and the entire German XXXXVII Panzer Corps. It’s a David-versus-Goliath story as American infantry platoons face off against entire German battalions. Thanks to the sacrifice of units like the 110th Infantry Regiment, which ceased to exist after the first 48-hours of the campaign, the 101st Airborne won the race to Bastogne, and the rest is history.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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