What a gift Winston Churchill has given his and future generations. This is an absolutely unique perspective on World War II. Not only was Churchill in the middle of all major decisions made in Great Britain during the war (and was aware of most of the pre-war decisions), he also has a keen sense of history and perspective that only a few historians possess. He also has a mastery of the English language and a sublime wit that brings this already compelling story to life.
As far as this volume (1 of 3 published, 1 to go - hopefully) it is absolutely remarkable the sheer number of opportunities there were to prevent/delay this conflict that were missed or explicitly ignored. In the beginning of this volume, Churchill declares WWII should have been named "The Unnecessary War" and it is hard to argue with his thesis. But his insight into this entire process is terrific. I highly recommend this set of books for anyone interested in the War or a remarkable view into a great leader in a trying time.
Finally, just a quick note on abridgment. It is true this is an unabridged audio book of the first of four volumes, but the four volumes are a textual abridgment of Churchill's original set of six volumes (but at least Churchill was apparently the one who did that abridgement). I have the original set of six and I am able to follow along with the audiobook. I end up reading the sections that were left out in the evenings and to me they are very interesting. Those sections left out are insightful and do add to the overall tapestry of the story.
It does not make this version any less worthwhile, though. As others have noted, the narrator sounds like Churchill (or at least like I imagine Churchill would sound like) which adds to the overall experience.
I thoroughly loved this book. I don't normally seek out these "true-life adventures" but the other reviews were so positive that I decided to give it a try. It was absolutely tremendous. It was so unbelievable that no one would even think of putting half of the things that happened into a novel. I literally spent every night during the time period I was listening to this book reflecting about the trials and tribulations of the men of the Endurance and wondering how I would do in similar circumstances. It was a profoundly emotional experience with this book.
The writing is quite good and the narrator keeps the story moving along while keeping the "you are there" sense of the book.
I highly recommend this book.
I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.
Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.
This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
From the time I was a small child, I was fascinated by World War I, just as Meyer says he was. I asked a lot of questions of my parents and grandparents which were never quite answered. Perhaps they cannot be answered. That is part of the problem with approaching such an immensely complicated subject.
One thing is certain: to understand the second war, one must look to the first. We who were born afterward, the ones whom the German language calls "die Nachgeborenen," have a duty to understand both wars as deeply as we can for obvious reasons.
To attempt to write a survey of World War I is an ambitious endeavor. Meyer's achievement is all the more impressive because he manages to do so in a compelling, interesting way throughout.
As with the author's monumental work on the Tudors, each chapter is dense with information. "Side trips" follow in the form of background sections, which illuminate some of the more complicated issues. These annotations are seamless and full of essential information.
Perhaps as we approach the centennial of the beginning of World War I, interest will be renewed and Meyer's book will reach a wide audience. It certainly deserves to do so. It is an excellent all-in-one choice, a true "desert island" book. If you want to read just one book on World War I, I recommend this to you without hesitation.
I have always loved Robin Sachs' narrations, and this book was no exception. His calm voice and ease in pronouncing foreign languages made listening a joy. I was saddened to read he just passed away on February 1, just days before his birthday. May he rest in peace.