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.
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.
Although countless books have been written about world war 2 this is still a worthwhile addition. The author is insightful and balanced in considering the roles of the many variables that affected the outcome of the war.
Interested in mostly history, biographies, autobiographies, classics, and Great Courses...with some Sci Fi thrown in for fun!
Roberts and Rodska combine to bring to life many larger than life characters in an incredibly good re-telling of story of World War II. Roberts has done fantastic research and has a plethora of first hand accounts that really add weight to the times and events of this great and tragic event.
Didn't read print version.
It was all very memorable since I was in high school at the time and my brother was in the pacific on a destroyer escort ship.
His typical British pronunciation of many of the words. His total inability to pronounce most of the American names of important people. And finally his use of foreign language sayings without explaining what the English version was.
I enjoyed the book except for the reader.
I've enjoyed other performances by Christian Rodska, but I found this one very difficult. I'm not sure if it was just the quality of his voice, which (to me) is sharp and somewhat nasal in this performance. Or if it is the combination of the voice and text, because I found it difficult to listen long enough at one time to get a sense for the quality of the text. Definitely 'sample' this one before you buy it.
Listen to Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, because that's the classic. As good now as when first published. But this is a great follow up. This is WWII for a modern audience. It gives a context, and a perspective, that Rise & Fall can't provide.