The Battle for Castle Itter is one of the best lesser-known stories of World War II. Stephen Harding’s book, The Last Battle, attempts to tell it.
Scope of The Last Battle by Stephen Harding
For such a small book (the text not including the sources is only 173 pages), Harding attempts to cover a lot of ground. He talks about the lives of the men who fought in the Battle for Castle Itter, including the history of the castle and the battle itself.
The Last Battle: A Story Too Crazy to Be Fiction
I enjoyed learning about the story itself. The book brings a very interesting battle into the public sphere. The Battle of Castle Itter is a story that often gets overlooked because, as the name of the book suggests, it is the last battle of the war. Hitler had already killed himself prior to this story. As a result, it does not have the war changing dynamic of D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge. Despite this, the story is more than dramatic enough for both casual fans of history and those who don’t regularly read historic texts.
Problems with Stephen Harding’s The Last Battle
While I love the story of the battle, Harding did not do it any favors. He does not give nearly enough detail to make the story interesting. Harding only spends about 30 pages or so of the book about the battle. While there is some information about the lead-up to it, I feel like he could have done more.
The biggest problem with this book, however, it how Harding writes. He has a tendency to go off on tangents about a person’s life when they get introduced. This would normally not be a problem except that Harding makes his narrative flow very choppy with how often he does this. It felt like half the book is just him giving the life stories of the various characters. I wish Harding would have kept these introductions more brief.
In conclusion, I liked the story in this book. However, I don’t like Harding’s writing style. For a story about a castle under fire, it left much to be desired. Hopefully, Hollywood or another writer can make this event into the story it has the potential to become.