This is a magnificent book, describing the many errors made by the British government (and to a lesser extent its allies) in the period after the Treaty of Versailles to Churchill's becoming prime minister in April 1940, at the time of the invasion of Holland and Belgium. It tells in detail the many decisions taken in the 1930s that served to strengthen Hitler's regime and military preparedness and weakened British military capacity to respond. It is marvellously read, a grim subject made exciting and inspiring.
I really liked the book, and immediately downloaded and listened two the next two books in the series. I didn't find out that the last book wasn't available on Audible. Ouch!! I find myself waiting to listen to a book that was written many years ago, about a war that happened many years before that. Definitely listen to the books. I just wish I would have waited until they were all available on audible. Now I am in the dark on whether the war will be won or lost:) I just hate waiting!
If you want an unbiased history of the build-up to World War II, look elsewhere. This book is Winston Churchill's interpretation of the momentous events culminating in his coming to power in the early stages of the conflict.
But it is all the more interesting because it tells the story from his personal perspective. He is never shy of pointing out, time and time again, how his political colleagues could have avoided or delayed the war by standing up to Hitler. After the devastation of World War One the political climate in Britain was dominated by a desire for peace, and successive British governments stood back and watched while Hitler built a powerful military machine, a policy of appeasement which Churchill opposed vocally and consistently for many years. When Hitler invaded Belgium and Holland, the folly of the appeasers became undeniable and they stood down, making way for the one man who was ready for the fight.
Churchill's command of the English language is, of course, legendary. His radio speeches stirred and galvanized the British people and motivated them to make the necessary sacrifices in Britain's darkest hour. Although the subject of this story is a sombre one, it is a joy to hear it told in Churchill's own words.
Military history, Contemporary sci-fi/fantasy, Classics and Sport biographies ... in that order!
I have never enjoyed learning about history as much as this! I recently listened to another performance by Christian Rodska (Fear Index) so I was worried that the narration may not have a big impact on me. I was wrong! He is perfect to read Churchill in everyway.
The greatest thing about reading non fiction is how easy it is to relate to 'characters' because you know they're real people making real life decisions. Not only is Churchill a real person but he was THE person in a perfect position to give an amazing overview of one of the most important events in modern history. Being able to follow his path through so many extraordinary situations and visualize his process of making national decisions that shaped the world today is a privilege.
I lived in the UK for most of my life so I am well schooled in WW2, or so I thought. So many details, both big and small, are brought to light in Churchill's personal account of the build up to the war. After I finished this book, I immediately got the 2nd book to carry on the experience ... and I'm looking forward to finishing the complete series!
This is definitely one of my favorite non fiction books/series of all time.
Husband, father, nurse, geek culture affianado, tech junkie, late-blooming history lover, armchair theologist, Lego enthusiast, and follower of Christ.
It's one thing to read about WW2 from a historian, it's altogether different to hear it directly from one of the major players. It gave me new insight that I hadn't gathered from other books on the topic. The narration is also fantastic.
My only complaint is that I didn't realize this was the first of 4 parts when I bought it. It only leads up to the beginning of the war. I would like to have paid 2 credits for all 4 books together rather than having to buy each one separately. That having been said, I probably will end up buying the other three books.
I love books!
I didn't realize this was book 1 of 4 until I got to the end of it. But, it was still a good listen and I guess I'll have to do the other 3 at some point. This one went from the end of WWI until Churchill was named Prime Minister a few months into the war. You almost feel like it's Winston himself reading his feelings to you about what is go0ing on from his and the British perspective.
Authors I like: Patrick O'Brian, Frederick Forsyth, Jane Austen, John Le Carre, Alan Furst, Jon Krakauer, Ernest Hemingway.
Churchill's history of WWII has long been one of those books I wanted to read but hadn't gotten around to. I wasn't sure what to expect but I anticipated that it would be well-written, extrapolating from Churchill's oratory skills. I was not disappointed.
A good bit of the book is a memoir of Churchill's own experiences, rather than a third person account of political and military events. This first volume of the whole history primarily deals with the period leading up to the outbreak of war, so listeners expecting a play-by-play account of violent clashes between the warring nations will find that there is actually very little of it in "Milestones to Disaster." Presumably, the later volumes in Churchill's history of WWII will be more in that vein.
The narration by Christian Rodska is very good. He doesn't quite go so far as to try to embody the author in a fully theatrical sort of way, but there's a touch of that. When another person is quoted at length, such as Neville Chamberlain, Rodska alters his voice and does a creditable job of not only bringing that person to life but also of conveying perhaps Churchill's opinion of the man in doing so. In all, I think Rodska does a great job of adding just a bit of that theatrical quality without being ridiculous. I often forgot that I was listening to a modern reader and I would fall under the spell that I was hearing Churchill himself narrate his own book, even though it did not seem that Rpdska was trying to actually mimic Churchill's voice.
Perhaps the best compliment I can give "Milestones to Disaster" is simply comment that I plan to spend my credits on the rest of the volumes to finish out the entire history.
The voice of the narrator is similar to some audio that I've hear from Mr. Churchill so the experience of listening to this work is almost like Mr. Churchill his telling you a story. I've been alternating between audiobooks of ancient history (Roman, etc.) and more modern history and this book reads like one of the classics (i.e. Caesar's "Commentaries"). How remarkable that this book allows someone who lived so much of these events to record his experiences. How much more so that he is a first class mind with access to innumerable documents and sources to flesh out those events which he did not personally attend or know about at the time. The pure historian may want to be cautious as he was an actor in the tale and may have bias in his recollection. Still, this is an engrossing work and I highly recommend it.
This wasn't so much a general history of the period than a personal memoir. As a matter of fact, his accounts of many events (such as the 'night of the long knives') differ greatly from others, particularly when he was not directly involved.
That said, Churchill was fascinating character with a privileged and unique place within many of these grand historical events.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable read. The only thing detracting from that enjoyment was the sheer number of times Churchill reminds us that he was right and everyone else was wrong; if only everyone would have listened to him, war could have been avoided. His argument is not without merit, but after the first fifty or sixty times most readers will have gotten the point. The subsequent two or three hundred reminders seem just a tad self-aggrandizing.
The historical events, presented with sardonic humor and in great detail, along with Sir Winston's views of them, are just amazing to hear. And there are surprises here. Sir Winston explains how, in actual practice, the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles were NOT burdensome to Germany, and a few other gems that are uncommon among the common history of WWII. Also, quite incredible and enthralling are the events leading up to WWII, the desire for Pacifism, a noble goal, the growing machine of Blitzkrieg, and how ill timed and ill judged kindness and sentiment among nations who refused to see what was happening, led to disaster.
Sir Winston himself.
Rodska does a wonderful job as Sir Winston, and the various characters. His depiction is subtle, direct, powerful and sublime. He brings the entire world before you,Eminently easy to listen to, he communicates so much of the torment among civilized peoples struggling to realize that an unimaginable tyranny is developing in their midst. You feel the fear, and Sir Winston's frustration, as well as the insanity of Hitler and company.
Yes, when the Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, realizes that his recent years of effort towards peace were completely misguided. And as a great gentleman, his efforts to admit it publicly immediately, turn about and make change, but all too late. Yet, bound by his poor judgement, the errors continue to mount. It is a heart breaking moment when a well intentioned man, promoted beyond his capacity, fails his country and the world. Churchill and Rodska depict these moments with complete respect, but honors above all the truth and the desperation mounting at the time. Rodska, in his own brilliance, depicts Mr. Chamberlain's heartfelt sentiment, befudlement and shock at events, his resignation to honesty and duty, yet poor judgement. You hear a man of simplistic nobility surrounded by events he doesn't understand, yet, sticking to principle, tries to weather through. Rodska delivers a wonderful and moving performance.