This is the first book I've read (or listened to) about World War II as a whole. As a novice in the subject, I can't vouch for the thoroughness or accuracy of the book; but I CAN say that it's a vivid and wide-ranging account, covering everything from the battle of the Atlantic to the siege of Stalingrad; from the campaign in Burma to the battle for Norway. One particularly vivid (and distressing) chapter covers the Holocaust. Roberts' basic premise, as I understand it, is that Hitler lost the war for two main reasons: he overrated his own strategic intelligence (and no one dared to contradict him); and he sacrificed his war aims to the demands of an insane racist ideology.
Christian Rodska does a great job narrating this engrossing story. He does slide over into outright mimicry at times, when quoting historical figures, but that didn't bother me. The only thing that bothered me was the usual problem with war histories in audiobook format: the lack of useful maps. Fortunately atlases of World War II abound. I listened to the book with my iPod in one hand and an atlas in the other.
First let me say I've read a ton of WWII books. It took a while for this book to grow on me as very little of what being said was new to me until I got about half way into the book. I really did learn quite a bit more which made the book worthwhile to myself. As for it being "a new history" I think that's extremely overstated, however you will almost certainly learn something new at some point.
If you're a starter or just want a good single volume WWII book to give you a good overview of the events, this is an excellent place to start.
this is an excellent review of the war in Europe. from Hitler's rise to power to his suicide and the Nuremberg trials, this history covers every aspect of the war in Europe: the movements of forces, specific fronts, specific important battles, Nazi occupation, the Holocaust, etc. There is an excellent blend of text-book facts and eyewitness accounts. Everything has been collated into a whole which is definitely more than the sum of its parts. The narration brings it all to life, making what could have been a dry list of facts into an epic human struggle.
two tiny quibbles:
the war in India and the Pacific are given much shorter reviews, consisting mostly of "the main moves" on the relevant battlefields. this is partially justified by the allied "Germany first" policy. still, a little more depth would have been nice.
I was also not thrilled that the author often engaged in "what if"s. however, Roberts does this from a highly informed standpoint, so there's usually some merit to the exercise. moreover, at the end of the book he uses the accumulated speculations to drive home his point: that the defeat of Germany was by no means guaranteed, even though (according to Roberts) Nazism contained the seeds of its own downfall.
I almost didn't buy this book. I have read dozens of WWII histories and this seemed like it would be just another. I was wrong. Insightful analysis and an intelligent explanation of the 1939-1947 time period made me a believer. I say 1947 because it is clear from this story that WWII could easily have spanned that time period, and beyond. It is fair to say that this book turned around my entire thinking about what WWII meant to the world at the time and the world we live in today. On the surface, much of this books dwells on parts of WWII few others have discussed (e.g. Burma, Italy, etc.). But on a deeper level, it is a 21st century retrospective on what it all meant to us, the living today.Rodska's delivery is riveting. Robert's analsysis is dead on, tack sharp, and downright scary.
The book is a comprehensive overview of the war with a focus on British involvement. However rather than analyzing why key decisions were made, too much time is spent on the what if's. Fun talk over a beer or two, but tedious in a book of this length.
I very much enjoyed this read for the amount of detail, primary and secondary sources that were used in its writing. A very interesting and educated hypothesis about hitler in addition to the well heard of allied resource advantage and the insanity of hitler. I very much enjoy the history of the Second World War and this book furthered my understanding and knowledge of the impact of the political movements and tactical decisions within it as well as how the individuals part of it, shaped the largest global conflict in history.
One of my favorite historical books.
The profound impact that listening to the more precise facts, given in this book, of the horrors of World War Two had on me.
Yes, it made me very sad if not slightly disturbed to hear the horrors against humanity conducted throughout this war.
Definitely a brilliant educational read. I am sure I will listen to it again. It is superbly researched, written and read.
The book does a great job of giving the big picture of the war, and also of showing glimpses of the personalities involved. I liked the reader, too, although many of his American characters sounded like John Wayne.
Rodska does the various accents to perfection. I don't agree with of the reviewers who thought it was distracting or irritating. I think it is risky to do this, but he pulls it off. The listener will just to decide for themselves.
Not really relevant question for a non-fiction book.
I have read a lot books on WWII. While quite a lot of the content was familiar there was a enough new or a new perspective to make it worth listening to. I think Roberts struck a good balance between the individual stories and the bigger picture.
Not impressed with the reader trying to talk as Hitler or Churchill. Just awful. His Hitler sounds like a cross between Gollum from Lord Of The Rings and Mr. Burns from The Simpson's. His Churchill impression is akin to Yoda from Star Wars.