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Battlefield mApps: Battle of the Bulge

 By Joseph Thomson. For iOS 5.0 or later. Available on iTunes, $8.99.

 Sometimes a picture—especially a map—is worth a thousand words. This new iPad app makes maps central in bringing the Bulge’s two near-disastrous weeks into sharper focus, from Hitler’s big-gamble plans to the bloody finale.

Four introductory pages intelligently, if briefly, take on key questions, such as whether the plan was viable or not and why, how the battle’s changing scale and force ratios affected its course, and why the U.S. eventually won. A brief tutorial then shows you the simple and rewarding ways to use the app. It’s pretty straightforward: a day-by-day timeline runs along the bottom of the screen. Tap or drag on the dates to make the app “play” the battle, and watch troop positions and concentrations move across shifting terrain on the maps. You can also click to read some 40 descriptions of key events, from the initial German surge to battle for St. Vith to the 101st Airborne’s “Nuts!” response to surrender demands. After you’ve mined each map, tap the inset icon “1944 Maps.” This opens one of my favorite features: the Allies’ original maps, accompanied by enriched commentary.

Think of Battlefield mApps: Battle of the Bulge as a treasure hunter’s tool. You’ll learn the lay of the land and find nuggets throughout, often where you least expect.


Originally published in the December 2013 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.