With peace talks underway, the beaten Germans proposed an interim cease-fire to spare lives, but the French Allied commander, General Ferdinand Foch, refused. Hostilities would not cease, Foch insisted, before the appointed hour of the Armistice. Thus, even on the last day, the Allies were still launching full scale offenses, and both sides bombarded each other until the final minute of the agreed upon cease fire: 11 a.m., November 11, 1918. The last hours pulsated with unbearable tension as men in trenches, airmen in the sky, and sailors at sea hoped to escape the distinction of being the last to die in the War.
©2004 Joseph E. Persico; (P)2004 Books on Tape
"Effectively marshaling his source material, Persico powerfully reconstructs Armistice Day as an emblem of the war." (Booklist)
Mr Persico tells the story of the Great War (as WWI was called until Sep 1, 1939). He begins with the last day of the war and then takes us back to the war's start in 1914; each chapter begins with Nov 11, 1918 and we are horrified to learn that even though the armistice has been set, Allied commanders are bent on carrying out offensives in which thousands more die on that last day. He provides a structure for the book by telling us of the military strategy used by both sides (largely throwing wave upon wave of men over the tops of the trenches into the thresher of machine guns), the military commanders and political personalities. But Persico's gift is in telling the story of the trenches from interviews and diaries of the men. He tells of the first use of precision artillery that killed so many and made more crazy from the sound and earthquake tremors of hours long barrages.
There is such beauty to this story-in spite of the horrible loss of life and injury.
A personalized account of life on the front and battles in World War I, told largely from the documented record of those who were there.
While very insightful, the unabridged version finds itself repetitive and at times tedious. I would therefore recommend the ABRIDGED version instead.
This is a good book for anyone not familiar with the war. However, for those that know the war well, the book is repetitive and does not offer new or interesting insights.
I thought this title did a wonderful job of describing the feeling of the times, the haughty arrogance of the commanders, the willingness to send masses of troops against the newly imployed machine gun, and the scale of battles with the troop losses are astounding. The book does a good job of describing battle, human feelings, and political atmosphere.
It was very easy to listen to and one of those titles that I truly looked forward to. It also helped that the same person who narrated T-Rex (Jonathan Marosz).
I enjoyed this book especially the author's strategy to start each chapter from the last day of the war. It is indeed horrifying to learn of the thousands of soldiers on all sides that lost their lives on 11-11-18. I do agree with other reviewers that there is some repetition and the first couple of chapters are a summary of how the war started -- if you know WWI then that aspect might not help - but if you don't - the detail is a chilling reminder of what went on for the day-to-day soldier, the senseless major battles and in some sense why there was a WWII.
This is an excellent history of WWI.
The narrator has a nice voice, but is a poor reader. He sounds as if he is not following the story at times, adding unnatural inflections and pronouncing words in odd ways, which detracts from the narrative.
The cinematic style of the narrative, cutting between multiple storylines, didn't really lend itself to an audiobook. Without some sort of strong cue (page breaks, long pauses, etc.) it becomes a little disorienting. But the material is excellent and it's definitely worth the listen.
I'm a second world war buff but have never dwelled into the first world war much.
This brought that war, particularly it's closing minutes into vivid focus. That esteemed names in American military history such as Pershing escaped the wrath of the public for wasting lives without any reason or meaning is astounding. Just the description of what brought the war about is enough to make you ill.
There are also glimpses into the blossoming characters that will be at the forefront of the Second World War - Patton, MacArthur and Hitler are seen before their emergence onto the world scene.
It's historical and insightful in it's description of how a leaders bullheaded attitude can get thousands or millions killed. Something that needs to be remembered today.
Captures the horrors of WW I and the absurdity of the death of those who lost their lives after the armistice was signed, but before the war was "officially" ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918. Excellent narration.
This book should be mandatory reading for any politician who wants to start a war, regardless of how "noble" the cause.
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