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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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  •  
    GB 06-30-12
    GB 06-30-12 Member 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!

    19 of 19 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.






    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 07-03-12
    Eric Toronto, ON, Canada 07-03-12
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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
  •  
    Aiden Johnson 08-12-14
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    "Educational"

    The Last Battle was one of the first audiobooks I have read and set the bar VERY high for any future listening. Simon Vance does a brilliant job narrating a part of history that is seldom touched upon and fully conveys the increasingly desperate situation of Nazi Germany during WW2 from the perspective of multiple countries.

    1 of 1 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LifetimeRoad Deep South 11-22-12
    LifetimeRoad Deep South 11-22-12
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    "I recommend it."
    Where does The Last Battle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Among the top 10.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Hitler's tirade upon meeting with his generals for one of the last times.


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

    No. One can get a little bogged down in a couple of places with all the war details.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron CROSS JUNCTION, va, United States 01-09-14
    Ron CROSS JUNCTION, va, United States 01-09-14 Member Since 2013

    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!

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    "I had heard a review on NPR."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis 11-06-14
    Dennis 11-06-14
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    "Poor form by audible"
    What would have made The Last Battle better?

    I am not installing your software just to download an MP3, membership cancelled before ever getting to use it. Very disappointed with your back door tactic to force me to install unwanted software.Though I am sure you won't post this review.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne B. Titus Canton, Michigan United States 08-28-14
    Wayne B. Titus Canton, Michigan United States 08-28-14 Member Since 2012
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    "What a complex web, spun and woven to decimation.."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The author takes the complexities and inhumanity of German nationalist society at the time, as well as the inhumanity of its' supporters during the war, and weaves together these facts from first hand accounts. These are then interwoven with other examples of humanity and courage, driving toward what we all know is the inevitable conclusion, the Fall of Berlin. The surprises along the way provided a great depth of learning for me that make this one of the most remarkable historical accounts of WWII that I have ever read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick 07-24-14
    Patrick 07-24-14

    The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

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    "Stands Near the Top of WW2 Books"

    Wow! This book was really interesting. What stood out of the book for me, was a certain humanizing of the German people that won't be covered in most WW2 books out there. I thought the author did a good job of telling the Battle of Berlin from different viewpoints and not the American, Russian, or the Nazis, but rather a combination of all the sides. There is no easy way to put to words something with such enormity as the last battle in the deadliest military conflict in history. Yet, Cornelius Ryan manages to do just that not with the use of staggering statistics, but with a series of stories that even my simple human mind can comprehend.

    The narrator, Simon Vance, has become one of my favorites & his reading of this book makes you feel as is you're "watching" a documentary. Excellent.

    Overall: Doesn't require vast knowledge of WW2 & the stories throughout will keep you listening. I highly recommend for those with even a mild interest on the subject, & of course the usual military history buffs as well.

    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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