The classic account of the final offensive against Hitler’s Third Reich.
The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater. The last offensive against Hitler’s Third Reich, it devastated one of Europe’s historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war’s bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come.
The Last Battle is Cornelius Ryan’s compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate imperatives of survival, where, as the author describes it, “to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to endure more militarily correct than to win.”
The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.
©1966 Cornelius Ryan; 1994 by Victoria Ryan Bida and Geoffrey J. M. Ryan (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A rare accomplishment…Will be of interest to generations to come.” (James A. Michener, Pulitzer Prize–winning author)
Cornelius Ryan is one of the best writers on WWII ever. His ability to bring disparate material together cohesively to paint a clear picture of otherwise chaotic events is heroic. He mixes the great (figures of history) with the small (folks in the towns and villages) to fantastic effect. You often feel that you were there yourself. The excitement, and impending doom, of the times is clearly carried through.
It is easy to understand that the outcome wasn't always certain, when the mistakes are made clear in the cold light of history.
Simon's dulcet tones brought the historical figures to life.
There were many. The greatest were descriptions of how the civilians in and around Berlin survived, and the Allied liberations of the camps.
I would (and will) read anything by Cornelius Ryan.
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
I was riveted to this book from the start. The story builds nicely and the narration is excellent, well besides one slight problem. Simon Vance narrated Interview With The Vampire and the follow on books. His haunting term of phrasing and style was great, but just after listening to him on that book made it feel a little weird. Still he did a fantastic job. The book I think was published in 1966 and so some information is missing, but the benefit was the author Cornelius Ryan was able to interview key players long before they were history themselves. This book is a keeper. Thank you Dan Carlin from the podcast 'Hardcore History' for recommending this book.
This book is about the Third Reichs last days and Cornelius Ryan the author captures the moment brilliantly. I highly recommend this book ... oh ya then throw in Simon Vance, one of the best narrators on Audible and you end up with a five star audio book!
Among the top 10.
Adolph Hitler. I enjoy his breakdown toward the end of the war and ultimate suicide. A taste of the suffering he put so many through.
Hitler's tirade upon meeting with his generals for one of the last times.
No. One can get a little bogged down in a couple of places with all the war details.
I enjoy audio books. One of my favorites "My Life In France" allows me to open any section anytime to become immersed in the joie de vivre!
The story was not what I had expected so I was a little disappointed. If does however give quite an accounting of the last days before the fall of Germany. It is collection of facts and accounts made into a long story. You do walk away with a much better idea of war and price paid by everyone.
The work itself is well-researched. Ryan draws from interviews, memoirs, and other historical artifacts to weave a coherent story. Seemingly irrelevant details in the beginning are tied together nicely by the end.
We learn about actual conversations involving Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, Truman, and most of Hitler's core advisors.
Military activity is covered at a high level: strategy moreso than tactics. I assume this is because Ryan's miltary sources tended to be commanders. Those unfamiliar with German cities and rivers may be confused by the detailed descriptions of troop movements.
I enjoyed the stories involving real Berliners. The zookeeper, the milkman, the spy, the orchestra conductor, the fearful women. Ryan did a great job telling how their thoughts and feelings changed over time, as Germany's defeat became more evident.
Other interesting storylines:
- the race between the Anglo-Americans and the Russians to reach Berlin (and within that, the race among generals in the same army to be the one to do it)
- the unwillingess of to accept defeat, or for that matter to even acknowledge problems; the massive delusions within the Führerbunker
What made this audiobook special is the narration by Simon Vance. What else to say? He reads the book brilliantly. Listen to the sample and judge for yourself.
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