The Last Battle Audiobook | Cornelius Ryan | Audible.com
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The Last Battle | [Cornelius Ryan]

The Last Battle

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“A rare accomplishment…Will be of interest to generations to come.” (James A. Michener, Pulitzer Prize–winning author)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    06-30-12
    06-30-12 Listener Since 2009
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    "Thanks to Dan Carlin of Hardcore History podcasts."

    What an interesting perspective of this horrible war and the end of the Nazi war machine. Thanks to Dan for recommending it to his listeners!

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 07-03-12
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 07-03-12 Member Since 2008
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    "It's exactly what you're hoping it will be"

    Outstanding over all, the narrator is excellent, and able to shift voice for different speakers without being distracting or annoying. The book itself is an excellent account of the fall of Berlin, and the most vivid that I've come across - bringing to life what is often a footnote or lone paragraph in more generally WWII books. Highly detailed without being plodding, dense or at all inaccessible, overall a must read for history fans.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaun Apollo, PA, United States 08-03-12
    Shaun Apollo, PA, United States 08-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Masterful Work"

    Somehow, "The Last Battle" is probably Cornelius Ryan's lesser known work on WWII, after his very famous books "The Longest Day" and "A Bridge Too Far" (yes, both prominent WWII films are based on his material).

    If you've seen "The Longest Day" film, you have some idea what this book's narrative is going to be like. It covers the events from as many perspectives as possible...from high-ranking commanders to infantrymen to civilians...many of whom were interviewed by Ryan himself in the 1960's. In fact, many of the most poigiant moments of "The Last Battle" are told from the perspective of German civilians, who attempt to go about their daily lives as the Third Reich collapses in flames all around them.

    Essentially, "The Last Battle" covers the invasion of Germany proper, on both the Western and Eastern Fronts, and the titular Battle of Berlin.

    But, the heft of this work is in the individual stories. German commanders describe to Ryan how Hitler reacted to his own lunacy coming full circle in the last days of the war. Soviet generals compete to see which Russian army will seize the city first. American pilots reveal how the last aerial dogfight in WWII involved US scout flyers shooting down a opposing German observation plane with Colt .45 1911 pistols. In Berlin, Zoo keepers desperately try to save the animals they were charged with caring for. Nuns struggle to prepare their maternity ward for the worst once Soviet rear-eschelon troops, drunk and prone to rape, arrive to exact revenge for atrocities commited aganist the USSR.

    This book is a powerful, moving, and highly informative work.






    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Hall Finger Lakes, NY 02-04-14
    K. Hall Finger Lakes, NY 02-04-14 Member Since 2010

    rugbycritic

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    "Utterly Fascinating"
    What did you love best about The Last Battle?

    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.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Simon's dulcet tones brought the historical figures to life.


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

    There were many. The greatest were descriptions of how the civilians in and around Berlin survived, and the Allied liberations of the camps.


    Any additional comments?

    I would (and will) read anything by Cornelius Ryan.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerold SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-28-14
    Jerold SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-28-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Germany Surrenders"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Last Battle to be better than the print version?

    The audio version is very good, but the written word is always better.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Last Battle?

    The very sad scenes of trying to save the Berlin Zoo animals. Attempting to feed Nile Stork with horse meat and his pathetic refusals.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The Thousand Year Reich ENDS.


    Any additional comments?

    Cornelius Ryan is a good writer. I highly praise his bookS.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Sydney, Australia 09-05-13
    Michael Sydney, Australia 09-05-13 Member Since 2007

    Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    John Escondido, CA, United States 07-05-13
    John Escondido, CA, United States 07-05-13 Member Since 2006
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    "A must listen for WWII enthusiasts"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 04-07-13
    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 04-07-13 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Excellent and amazing literature!"

    Be warned, the narration can be kind of dry in some parts; but stay focused, it is so worth it because this book is amazing. It really gives you a first hand account of what it was like to be in 1945 Berlin; It's rare to have such personal accounts of battle and I really would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in this type of history; especially those of you interested on the specific war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Clark ogden, UT, United States 03-24-13
    Clark ogden, UT, United States 03-24-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Great History"
    Would you listen to The Last Battle again? Why?

    Yes, because of the wealth of personal accounts from those who lived through the Last Battle


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No single character, but rather the German People


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Once again, The Germans themselves.


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

    The last few pages as the battle begins to wind down.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like military history then I would recommend this book very strongly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Lacey, WA, USA 02-25-13
    Greg Lacey, WA, USA 02-25-13 Member Since 2001
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    "Worth every minute"
    If you could sum up The Last Battle in three words, what would they be?

    Ryan is a master of history, but the battle of Berlin is one that is ignored by many. The stories are real and bring the final battel to life. It is a great listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The human stories


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Well spoken and clear


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr. Trevor Lott
    Costa Blanca, Spain
    3/12/14
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    "All the information you will ever need."
    What did you like most about The Last Battle?

    The details of the end of WW11, its' really well described.This has been the ONLY book I've known about to make the battle of Berlin such a visual experience, & to give so much information..


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Last Battle?

    The simple futility of the killing of the few remaining soldiers and civilians who saw the war finished. Never the less this carried on right to the end. Squads were going around hanging what they saw as traitors.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Not sure as I enjoy is the correct word for a subject like this, however I learnt a lot about how humans react in a dire crisis.


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

    The futility of the battle at the end.


    Any additional comments?

    In this audible version the narrator achieves a moving account of the war, as it was played out in Germany and Berlin, in the final conclusion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • O
    Reading, United Kingdom
    9/1/13
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    "A Good One"

    This is a narrative history well suited to be an audiobook. Not too technical, it's a compilation of people's experiences which follows the invasion of Germany at the end of the war, and the fate of Berlin. It's easy to listen to and I very much like Simon Vance's voice.

    Various generals and their adjutants come into the story, German, Russian and American, but the story of Gotthard Heinrici is particularly captivating, as he tries to stave off the Russians and defy Hitler's crazy ideas at the same time. He wanted to give as many Germans as possible the chance to surrender to the western allies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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