The Last Battle
is a 1966 book by Cornelius Ryan
Cornelius Ryan, was an Irish journalist and author mainly known for his writings on popular military history, especially his World War II books: The Longest Day: June 6, 1944 D-Day , The Last Battle , and A Bridge Too Far .-Early life:Ryan was born in Dublin and educated at Synge Street CBS,...
about the events leading up to the Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....
in World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
The book, which was published by Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...
, is structured as a historical narrative. It is based on interviews with hundreds of persons actually involved, including Americans, British, Germans and Russians. Ryan was granted unique historical access to Soviet archives and Soviet generals involved in the battle, which was rare at the time.
The book was published simultaneously in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Portugal, when it appeared in March 1966.
The Last Battle
made news at the time it was published. The book revealed that German capture of a top-secret Allied plan for dividing and occupying Germany helped stiffen German resistance and prolonged World War II.
Also receiving publicity were assertions of an American general quoted in the book, General William Hood Simpson
General William Hood Simpson was a distinguished U.S. Army officer who commanded the U.S. Ninth Army in northern Europe, during World War II, among other roles....
, commander of the Ninth United States Army in World War II, that he is convinced his Army "could have captured Berlin well ahead of the Russians if it had not been stopped on the Elbe River
The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...
on 15 April, 1945".
The Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....
attacked Ryan for trying to smear the Red Army in his depiction of the Battle of Berlin.
After his death, it was revealed that Ryan had written to the publisher of historian Stephen Ambrose
Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He was a long time professor of history at the University of New Orleans and the author of many best selling volumes of American popular history...
, accusing him of plagiarizing from The Last Battle
. In September 1970, Ryan wrote a letter to Ambrose's publisher, Doubleday, accusing Ambrose of using two quotations from The Last Battle
in his book The Supreme Commander
without attributing them to Ryan.