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.
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.
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.
Orderly, thorough summary.
The newly classified additions like Great Britain's clever set-ups for getting Nazi brass confessions to Stalin's blunders which were kept hidden by Soviet propaganda.
His inflections and accents had the right amount of charm as some other actors make such well-known figures like Churchill, FDR, Patton and Hitler into cartoon characters by comparison.
We need to pass the torch, and let our children read our messy and sad history by its light.
It's non-fiction but I felt moved by most of the chapters' emphasis on the magnitude, the countless unspeakable atrocities, and the unflinching examination at the cost. Andrew Roberts is a great writer first, historian second.
Layout of the chapters was only slightly confusing. Not enough to detect from a well written and well performed book. Would recommend.
This was a very insightful presentation full of historical facts, figures, quotes and anecdotes. A n outstanding reading and even though you know the ending, it is still spellbinding.