The complete magisterial history of the greatest and most terrible event in history, from one of the finest historians of the Second World War. This shows the impact of war upon hundreds of millions of people around the world - soldiers, sailors and airmen; housewives, farm workers and children.
Reflecting Max Hastings's 35 years of research on World War II, All Hell Let Loose describes the course of events, but focuses chiefly upon human experience. There are vivid descriptions of the tragedies and triumphs of a host of ordinary people, in uniform and out of it, in an 'everyman's story'.
This is now the entire audiobook, not in two parts.
©2011 Max Hastings (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
There are many alternatives if you are looking for books about WW2. I recently read the not so creatively named "second world war" by Anthony Beevor, a thousand page book that gives the reader a comprehensive account of the entire war.
All hell breaks loose is in many ways similar to Beevors book, however, it did not seem to put as much emphasis on covering all aspects of the war. Instead this book frequently quoted personal correspondence from people who were involved in the war. Indeed I think that this is the primary reason why someone should choose rather than some other book.
You often read or hear about wars and the number of fatalities and how many starved etc etc, however, it is very hard to take the perspective of the individuals involved. The letters and diaries in this book takes you one step closer. Upon reading such material you can easily feel a bit ill (unless you are a complete psychopath), but at least for me the stronger feeling is one of gratitude that you have not been caught up in a war...
Reviewing my notes on this book I realized that it also contained quite a bit of information that was new to me, things that I had not considered important before. For example, the author convincingly argues that had Germany not attacked England with their airforce, England would not have been able to maintain the moral of their army and the political climate would probably have swayed towards peace with Hitler.
Another slightly comical story relates to Italy's inability to do, well, anything at all. As a part of a propaganda stunt meant to demonstrate the superiority of the Italians, a boxing fight was arranged between a famous boxer and an African man woo had never boxed before. Much to Mussolini dismay, the African man knocked the professional Italian boxer unconscious...
All in all, this book is kind of average if you are looking to get an overview of the war, however if you want to understand better what it was like for the soldiers and civilians who were actually involved in the war, this book is a sound choice. It is not that optimistic to suggest that there will be no conflict as destructive as WW2 again.
The best narrator in the business. Sheer pleasure to listen, even if you are not interested in WWII. Cameron Stewart should cover all the books in the store, and earn tonnes of money for his narration.
"A superb history of the second world war"
This is a very long book, but I was gripped throughout by the fast-paced narrative that illuminated the horrors of war and the extraordinary heroism of the men and women who put up with unspeakable conditions in all the theatres of war. The basic details of the war are well-known but where this book excels is in combining the global/national facts with extensive material from letters and diaries that more than anything evoke what it was really like on the ground, in the air, and on and under the seas.
This is no jingoistic telling of WWII from the British perspective. The failings, mistakes and barbarities of all the protagonists are revealed, often with hindsight as the author acknowledges.
It’s not a book to be ‘enjoyed’ as the sheer number of people killed was enormous and the devastation of parts of the world catastrophic for many years after the war, however I finished the book feeling humbled by what the generation before mine had endured.
It’s a salutary reminder that megalomaniacs, such as Hitler and Stalin, can galvanise such monumental horrors in the 20th century and depressing that people are still enduring these tyrants and horrors on Europe’s doorstep.
The narrator is superb.
I also have the hardback version of this and initially hesitated buying the audio, but I am glad that I did. It is superbly read by Cameron Stewart. I have listened to each day as I walk to and from work. Loosing track of what you have listened to can be a problem with some of the larger history books, but not in this case. It is entirely memorable. The detail is superb and there is a wealth of little known detail through out. I am looking forward to listening to part 2.
"We can never forget, the price will be apocalyptic"
The Second World War left no one clean, and exposed the worst of humanity for all to see; the industrial murder of millions, 60 million dead, the destruction of all we think is good in humanity, the devastating brutality we use to subjugate one another into all kinds of submission and enslavement.
The racist ideal and ideas that europe held about its people and others in the world became exposed like flames to oxygen and nearly burnt all down. The racist ideas and ideals of the east and the genocide they produced in the name of superiority; proving once more that racism is not exclusively held by any one race but an illness we all negate too have, but is indulged by all humans as proof of their superiority.
"Surveys found that most Americans continued to regard the Germans as fundamentally decent and peaceful folk, led astray by their leaders. In May 1945, when newsreels of the concentration camps had been shown around the world, 53.7 per cent of American respondents told pollsters they thought only a small part of the German people were ‘naturally cruel and brutal’."
"So many prominent Nazis spoke openly about their intentions towards the Jews that it remains remarkable that the Allied national leaderships were reluctant to accept their words at face value. Informed citizens in both Britain and America drew appropriate conclusions about what was happening, reinforced by eyewitness testimony from eastern Europe. Mrs." (from "All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945" by Max Hastings)
I place this quotes here not because they are representative of the book but because they are representative of how we like to deny the evidence of crimes committed or what a group said, because we think it is crazy, an exaggeration or inconvenient. Some Ideologies scream their intentions but we choose to not listen at our own peril.
I read this book with fascination and reluctance, the scale of the horror is devastating and drowns you with the sheer waste of humanity, the inconprihansable scale of brutality and crimes committed by all participants is brought to life with numbers like the 300,000 soviet soldiers killed by their own army, more soldiers than Britain lost in Europe, or a train full of cats sent to Leningrad to replace the ones eaten or that the same city lost more people than Britain and America together.
No nation or form of government can claim to be without guilt, at the end of this story, all we can conclude is that some bathed with less delight in the blood and suffering of others.
A fantastic work that will put more perspective in the Second World War and how it affected real people in all the theaters of the war, a staggering synopsys of hell as created by mankind. A warning of a future we never want to recreate, a reason to be extremely vigilant of the signs.
"Gripping Fascinating, Illuminating"
This has been in my library for some time but I have only just got around to listening to it - why I can't imagine!
I was a child during the war and experienced some bombing, rationing and so on but it was all quite exciting and I had no idea how close we came to losing, how ill prepared and ill equipped we were or how much of the propaganda was far from accurate and designed, reasonably effectively as far as I can recall, to keep up our spirits.. The book is rich in quotations from indiviuals involved which bring home the sheer scale of the misery experienced by millions and from which I, secure in my Devon village for much of the time, was largely protected.I very strongly recommend this to anyone, who like me , lived through the war, but also for a younger generation who I find are woefully ignorant about it - why it occurred, how it progressed and , above all, how the outcome could have been very different had better decision been made, especially by Hitler. I shudder to think what our lives would be like today had he won. This excellent book makes it very clear that a German victory was a distinct possibility. With the aid of hindsight, and Max Hastings's insight, some of Hitler's decisions beggar belief - Thank God!
"Kaleidoscopic first person history"
Hastings uses first person experiences to illustrate a consistently independent and thought provoking analysis of the war. I wasn't sure about this purchase because it seemed hard to believe that there was anything original or new to say but it's a pleasure to report that I grossly underestimated Hastings' ability to create something that's both gripping and touching. First hand accounts culled from combatants' letters home often conclude with a post-script that the letter was recovered from the writer's body shortly afterwards and over time we begin to get a sense of the human tragedy behind the casualty figures. The work required to produce such a clear account from such a large body of material must have been enormous and while I'd prefer to get both volumes for a single credit I didn't feel short-changed in terms of the duration of each volume or the quality of the writing.
"Placing events in context"
Very well written
The attitude of the English towards the locals in the far east.
A great story teller he puts you right into the book.
Yes it made me re-think those events at the start of the war which we held as true
Max Hastings has again provide a very thought provoking documentary piece by using the thought and recollections of people across the whole spectrum of society and from both sides.
This work by Max Hastings is brilliant, covering every theatre of action, revealing new insights to the war, which makes it a fascinating read. Very thorough. A must read for anyone interested in the history of WWII.
"Brilliant work comes to life"
Little can be added to the already glowing reviews of this outstanding book in terms of content. However the audio version brings to life in a striking and often poignant manner the emphasis on the individual human stories. If you think you have already read or heard it all this audio will change your mind and give a new perspective.
. it takes out all the we won the war an replaces with some facts- History usually is written by the victors for the victors.. this work writes it as it is.. success and failure- Just a point.. the issues are a bit mixed up, there are 4 books, Book one Vol 1 & 2. and book 2 vol 1 & 2.. but whoever put it on here has got Vol 2 somewhat muddled up and calls them Vol 2 pt 2 and Vol 2 pt 3...- ?Just check it before you listen..- Well worth the money.
I have enjoyed this as it's entertaining and superbly narrated - but I have to say i'm disappointed at the pricing of this book in terms of needing two credits. Other quality WW2 history books have a similar listening time and remain at one credit. For example the fairly recent 'The Storm of War - Andrew Roberts' (a slightly better book in my opinion)
My most recent purchase is 'The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - W. Shirer' This runs to fifty seven hours of listening for one credit, compared to the fourteen hours for part one of this.
Not great value when other comparable (and better) books are cheaper.
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