The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Third Reich in January 1945. Frenzied by their terrible experiences with Wehrmacht and SS brutality, they wreaked havoc - tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rape, pillage, and unimaginable destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women and children froze to death or were massacred; more than seven million fled westward from the fury of the Red Army. It was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known.
Antony Beevor has reconstructed the experiences of those millions caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich's final collapse. The Fall of Berlin is a terrible story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge, and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing endurance, self-sacrifice, and survival against all odds.
©2002 Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper (P)2002 Isis Audio Books
"A tale drenched in drama and blood, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal." (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post)
This is a very detailed account of the fall of Berlin and Nazi Germany in 1945. The book follows the allied invasion of the Fatherland, but the focus is on the Soviet army and its puppet master, Josef Stalin. The German army and population paid a very steep price for their nation's aggressive and utterly brutal invasions and the murders of millions. While the Soviet army was exacting revenge on the Germans, Stalin was busy purging his own people while the war was still very much in progress. It is a fascinating and thoroughly researched book that I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in WW2. The narration is quite first-rate as well.
If you are a history buff, this is one for your library. As usual, Mr. Beevor includes not just the history of the battles, but the effect on the civilians and their lives. It is wonderfully inclusive and a job to listen to as the narration is beautiful. I am looking forward to more listens by this narrator.
I've read (well listened) a ton of books on WWII and whatever is available for the last days of Berlin, and there's a few books on the issue. So with that said I'll say up front there isn't anything new in this book for me - but it's put together well and it's always great to have a refresher. I say that because if you know the basics of WWII and want to add some depth on the final weeks and days before VE day, this is a great place to start. If you know the last days of Hitler in detail, again you probably won't learn much, but this is still a very good take on the events and as I said for myself, it's a great refresher.
Some other notes. I generally prefer a narrative take on history and at the beginning of this book it was anything but that - BUT as the book moved along and the focus narrowed, the book got much more interesting and compelling.
The reader does a very good job, probably closer to a 4.4 as opposed to 5, but generally if you give someone a 4 other reviewers will think he must have not been that good - and that's not at all the case.
Overall if you read the description and it sounds interesting then you should very much enjoy this book. If you find your mind wandering a bit at the beginning, just stick with it, it picks up quite a bit.
Narrative was excellent and managed to bring events to life. There wasn't hardly any dull parts of the book and kept me engaged.
The book is basically a routine chronological account with a bit of color added here and there. Some of these where new to me and others included more detail. I do not consider it a first tier work, however.
For me there may have been a bit too much inclusion of army group numbers, divisions, and so on but it was important to the overall story and certainly to readers who follow those details. What resonated with me was the nitty-gritty of what it was like for soldiers and civilians day to day. In the final chapter Beevor notes how little captured generals seemed to grasp the moral implications of what they had done. A great read for history buffs.
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