Overall a well done book. It jumped around a bit chronologically and it did contain the aforementioned temperature errors but I did not feel that it detracted from the book. It is not a narrative of the war but gives some perspective to the significance of the roles of the various combatants and some perspective that helps balance the home country centric view that you may have learned in school.
This is the most truthful, comprehensive book on WWII I have read. It is well written and divided into thoughtfully unique sections. The narrator is excellent. If you have any interest in WWII this would be the book you should start with, read other books and then come back to this one. I was very impressed. One warning - you may not like everything you hear. It is truthful and comprehensive.
There is some confusion on the temperatures given. It may be a conversion issue or the narrator may not have read negative numbers in every instance. I would have liked to have more information on POW camps.
I didn't know!
Yes - no stone left unturned in this book.
Thanks for our todays
If you think you know WWII listen to this and then rethink
This is the kind of styles I like in my reviews: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
No simple war is an impressive about the history of World War II which, uniquely, manages to simultaneously pay homage to the courage of the soldiers fighting on the wrong side of the moral line and document the many darker acts committed by these same soldiers.
Although the book is rich in detail and goes through all the parties involved in the conflict, there are two special places were the study deserves special praise and goes far beyond what other books in the area have done.
- The book takes special attention to describe the unknown German heroes of the war. These are the soldiers that won battles on two fronts, against sometimes impossible odds. Many of these soldiers had nothing to do with what was happening on the political front and were (soon enough) fighting, and dying, for Germany's survival. Few books document that well the German ordeal on the Eastern front, in particular, how this was all very different from a well-equipped and organized army.
- Second, the book is one of the few to be honest about a fact of the war, that it was mainly fought, and won, by the Russians with the allied mostly creeping in as a sideshow. But this was not easy and while the Russians numerous, it boggles the mind to imagine how they could transform from a second-class world power to one that could push back a major industrial power. According to the narrative, this was accomplished mainly by the Russian grit never to give up and fight until death.
No simple victory is marketed as a tale of the war atrocities committed by the victors but this is just a part of the story. More than this, the book tries to explain how we came to this by defining what "total war" really is. It is also a cautionary tale about a kind of war that might have occurred only once in the history of humanity.
somewhere between jawdropping and Oh...how 'bout that.
When the good guys win.
not sure but he is excellent
A normal persons brain would explode if you listened to it all at one time. Let me know when you decide your going to likely listen to it a second time.
history library must have.
My dad was in WW 2 and would NEVER talk about it, after listening to this book I know why. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around what took place. The numbers quoted in this book are staggering! The torture incomprehensible!
I keep thinking about the protesters complaining about the U.S. using water boarding!!
clear animated voice
the authors discussion of historiography and its western bias
yes i want to read all of the authors books
i want to meet and talk with mr davies
this is a very refreshing take on war in general and of course world war two specifically.
however when during the battle of Stalingrad, "the temperature had dropped to twenty degrees Celsius" I think it's missing some minuses.
I made it all the way through the book and learned a great deal I never knew or suspected about World War II so I'm glad I did. Despite the always-fantastic narration by Simon Vance, the book reads more like an encyclopedia or a reference book than a novel or even a historical book. If you are a true WWII buff I would think you would the hardcopy of this book so you can thumb through it and look up the topics that interest you. If you are more of a casual historian (as I am) it can be tough to make it through but it's definitely worthwhile. Note that the author minimizes the U.S.'s role in the war and role in bringing the war to victory. His position is well-substantiated but some Americans might find that viewpoint off-putting or even painful.
Norman Davies has a point and you won't be able to escape it in this book. Stalin was as bad as Hitler. Maybe genocide is worse than just plain old killing but the body counts are similar. Davies isn't denying anything about the holocaust but he wants us to know about the gulags too. And while he is telling you about how bad Stalin is he also wants us to know that the Allies could not have won the war without the USSR.
But why should you read yet another history of WWII? First, the breakup of the USSR led to the release of many documents from the Stalin era. Second, in the U.S. we get a very filtered, even biased view of the war. Third, Simon Vance's energy as the narrator never falters through the 20 hours of narration.
The author says D-Day wasn't among the top 10 battles of the war. The battle of Kursk was the most decisive. He talks about issues that are rarely mentioned: the effect of the war on civilian women, the Warsaw uprising, the impact on children, the terrible price a community paid if one side or the other decided that it would hold the line there.
Is this book for you? Do you know about the Katyn massacre? If not, google it and see if you aren't interested in learning more. Are you someone who reads history with a critical/skeptical eye? Norman Davies is your guy.
I normally deduct one star for a non-fiction book that is not read by the author himself, unless he/she has some really good excuse like being dead. But I found this book from an Audible listing of narrator choices so I can't deduct this time. At least Simon Vance has the same accent as Davies (I'm presuming).
The reason I can't give this a 5 star review is that it is a bit hard to follow as an audible book. This material is not presented in chronological order, more like a loop that goes back again and again for more detail or another viewpoint. Also, this is not just a history book, far from it. It is also a critique of how history is written and that is probably this book's strongest point.