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Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 | [Max Hastings]

Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945

From one of our finest military historians comes a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences. Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the 20th century.
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Publisher's Summary

From one of our finest military historians comes a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences.

World War II involved tens of millions of soldiers and cost sixty million lives—an average of twentyseven thousand a day. For 35 years, Max Hastings has researched and written about different aspects of the war. Now, for the first time, he gives us a magnificent, singlevolume history of the entire war.

Through his strikingly detailed stories of everyday people—of soldiers, sailors, and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the two year siege; Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews—Hastings provides a singularly intimate portrait of the world at war. He simultaneously traces the major developments—Hitler’s refusal to retreat from the Soviet Union until it was too late, Stalin’s ruthlessness in using his greater population to wear down the German army, Churchill’s leadership in the dark days of 1940 and 1941, Roosevelt’s steady hand before and after the United States entered the war—and puts them in real human context.

Hastings also illuminates some of the darker and less explored regions under the war’s penumbra, including the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland, during which the Finns fiercely and surprisingly resisted Stalin’s invading Red Army, and the Bengal famine in 1943 and 1944, when at least one million people died in what turned out to be, in Nehru’s words, “the final epitaph of British rule” in India.

Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the 20th century.

©2011 Max Hastings (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“This is the book [Hastings] was born to write: a work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written.” (Sunday Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (348 )
5 star
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4.2 (296 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Rollin Cholula, Mexico 06-10-15
    Rollin Cholula, Mexico 06-10-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding narrative history"
    What made the experience of listening to Inferno the most enjoyable?

    Max Hasting's use of personal communications by soldiers, women, young people an d mid-level military brings forth the horror of war to the individual. This book is not for the squeamish but if you persist, you will be rewarded by an insightful, intelligent and global history of WWII.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Inferno?

    Surely the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and the Soviet push into Germany. But also enlightening was Hasting's treatment of the Allies push through Italy, shot through with mistakes and wrong turns.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were many, but the most moving were the letters and diaries written by soldiers in the field and women back home.


    Any additional comments?

    Since Hastings is not a professional historian but an extremely accomplished journalist, he is not constricted by the dry rhetoric of academia and has no problem using a wide variety of sources which make this a "living" book. That is not to say it is not serious historical analysis, which it certainly is.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel 11-06-12
    Daniel 11-06-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The best survey of the Second World War"
    Any additional comments?

    The historian shows his true strengths in this work, presenting a balanced and careful survey of the course of the war and its major combattants. His assessments of the achievements and failures of the various allied nations is a real contribution to understanding the conflict.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Cazenovia, NY, United States 08-22-12
    Wayne Cazenovia, NY, United States 08-22-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    3
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    "Wrong Narrator"
    What would have made Inferno better?

    Excellent book, but a poor choice for narrator. He has a weird accent, and his phrasing makes it sound like he is reading a cookbook. Too bad, because Max Hastings is a master at telling the great stories of history, and the best WW2 writer I've found.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Ralph Cosham’s performances?

    No - annoying


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointed in the delivery, but fascinated with the story - I'll try buying the book.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim In Texas! Austin, TX, United States 04-11-12
    Jim In Texas! Austin, TX, United States 04-11-12 Member Since 2009

    I'm just a big kid.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I couldn't get through it"
    What did you like best about Inferno? What did you like least?

    Detail about lesser know incidents in WWII.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Ralph Cosham’s performances?

    I'd consider it unless the performance was produced by this publishing studio.


    Any additional comments?

    I just couldn't plow through this whole book, mostly due to the narration.

    The book is read in a monotone, there is no inflection, and the space between each word seems to be identical.

    I suspect that the audio was processed through some kind of time compression software designed to shorten the length of the book.

    Whatever the reason, the narration sounds exactly like machine generated speech with an English accent. It sounds like one gigantic sentence, there are no pauses for commas or periods.

    The somewhat disjointed collection of antidotes combined with the relentlessness inflection free monotone made this book unlistenable for me.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Kirk Davis Seattle 12-21-12
    David Kirk Davis Seattle 12-21-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"
    Any additional comments?

    The book is fantastic and the narrator is very articulate. My only complaint is that the narrator reads way too fast.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David la quinta, CA, United States 08-13-12
    David la quinta, CA, United States 08-13-12 Member Since 2014
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    "A book to add to one's collection"
    What made the experience of listening to Inferno the most enjoyable?

    I'm a history buff and I'm always looking at the different angles of why it happened and how it happened. What would have happened if another step was made?

    I like to write about the future and a good book can help me in understanding why certain things happen. In Spacestation, ARK, and my other books that I have written and writing, this book becomes a great reference point because it so thorough.

    Germany almost won the war and with a little more time to develope some of their new weapons, would have. I just can't imagine what we would have done if he had V2 weapons that would have fallen on Boston or New York.

    AS a sales person, it amazes me when a company can't see the writting on the wall. It was obvious to me in 2004 that Nextel was a dog and for that matter so was the Blackberry. The germans almost won the war but could you have imagined if they didn't make all those mistakes.

    That's the kind of insight, I got from reading this book


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was well documented and yet added insight from a different perspective. Why did Hitler declare war on the United States?


    What about Ralph Cosham’s performance did you like?

    Naturally, I liked his performance.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but it it also a book that I will listen to many times over. To me, that's my criteria for rating a book


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Salt Lake City, UT, United States 04-20-12
    Edward Salt Lake City, UT, United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Outstanding"
    If you could sum up Inferno in three words, what would they be?

    An outstanding account.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    More about wanting more Max Hastings.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Too many to choose from.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Impossible to listen to it in one sitting. Maybe if you were flying to europe.


    Any additional comments?

    Good for post graduates.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rudolph 07-20-15
    Rudolph 07-20-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Editing To The Wind"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend but understand the editing can be annoying at times.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This book provided a different perspective of the war but jumped around with what appeared to be random order at times.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The performance was clear and concise but at times apparently the narrator wanted to do this all in one take and moved away from the microphone changing tone and volume.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Some of the passages will make you laugh at the ridiculous claims of justifications of action and then cry with anger for the needless deaths of soldiers and citizens to pacify people like MacArthur. And then there is the sadness of the impact on innocent lives, combatants and civilians.


    Any additional comments?

    The time editing of this audio book as it relates to chapter and sectional breaks is all but non existent. Had this been my first audiobook I may not have purchased others. This is by far the worst time editing of an audio book I have experienced. Be prepared to constantly use Bookmarks and not rely on the chapter times and breaks to plan your listening. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, this is a 2 compared to all other audio books I have experienced being a 9 or 10.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Northbrook, IL, United States 06-22-15
    Eric Northbrook, IL, United States 06-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Superb!"

    An excellent re-telling of the factors leading up to, during and post WWII. There's a bit more concentration on the European Theatre of operations but even for someone like myself who considers WWII a topic about which I know a great deal this is a fantastic novel. Hastings reveals numerous obscure, yet fascinating facts as well as the stories of battles, facts and circumstances that are very well known in a way that keeps the story captivating and interesting beginning to end. Finally I find the narrator Ralph Cosham to be among my very favorite. I highly recommend this novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    laurie 04-04-15
    laurie 04-04-15

    I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Less military macro than human micro"

    I read a lot of WWII books, but this one was unusual. Despite the vastness of the project and the expanse of years, Hastings's book is highly personal. We listen to soldiers' and civilians' intensely moving diary entries, letters to loved ones, and eyewitness accounts. No other book has made the depth of suffering so clear and real to me, person by person by person.

    And yet the book was not sensationalism. It was scholarly and informative. Hastings is clear in his opinions of the role each nation played in the war. Russia made the biggest contribution and, at great sacrifice, won the war for the Allies. The Brits don't come out looking so good. The US emerged, relatively speaking, unscathed.

    I was so impressed with Inferno, I used my next credit for another Hastings book.

    The narrator did a wonderful job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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