The last eight months of World War II were the war's worst. Even when the result seemed inevitable, the death camps worked to a frenzy, and the allied campaign acquired a brutality all its own, as advancing Soviet forces imposed a retributive suffering on German civilians and American and British aircraft pummeled and fire-bombed the cities of Japan and Germany. Why could the war not have ended earlier? One reason is that the German army defended its territory with extraordinary tenacity. Another, according to Hastings, is that the Americans and the British were, in crucial respects, inept--as shown by the setbacks at Arnhem and the Battle of the Bulge. In this tough, controversial, and uncompromising history, Hastings tells the story of the advance on Germany from the east and the west. He pulls no punches and presents a picture of war at its most vicious and cruel.