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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
The audio version is very good, but the written word is always better.
The very sad scenes of trying to save the Berlin Zoo animals. Attempting to feed Nile Stork with horse meat and his pathetic refusals.
The Thousand Year Reich ENDS.
Cornelius Ryan is a good writer. I highly praise his bookS.
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!
Say something about yourself!
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.
Yes, because of the wealth of personal accounts from those who lived through the Last Battle
No single character, but rather the German People
Once again, The Germans themselves.
The last few pages as the battle begins to wind down.
If you like military history then I would recommend this book very strongly.
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.
The human stories
Well spoken and clear
"All the information you will ever need."
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..
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.
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.
The futility of the battle at the end.
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.
"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.
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