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The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster | [Sir Winston Churchill]

The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster

Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction.
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Audible Editor Reviews

History, as Winston Churchill famously predicted, has been good to him. His exalted place in the 20th century annals has been cemented through his Noble Prize-winning memoir, A History of the Second World War. In this audiobook version of the four-volume, 45-hour memoir, British actor Christian Rodska conveys the triumphs and tragedies of WW II with a voice as august and buoyant as we know Churchill's to have been. Consistently riveting and rich in historical insight, Churchill's memoir puts the listener in intimate audience with the powerful oration and defiant eloquence with which Churchill led a continent through its darkest hour.

Publisher's Summary

Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction.

©1959 Cassell and Co. Ltd; ©1990 the Esate of Winston Churchill; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 10-30-08
    John M Lafayette, CA USA 10-30-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Brilliant! Only Churchill could have done this."

    What a gift Winston Churchill has given his and future generations. This is an absolutely unique perspective on World War II. Not only was Churchill in the middle of all major decisions made in Great Britain during the war (and was aware of most of the pre-war decisions), he also has a keen sense of history and perspective that only a few historians possess. He also has a mastery of the English language and a sublime wit that brings this already compelling story to life.

    As far as this volume (1 of 3 published, 1 to go - hopefully) it is absolutely remarkable the sheer number of opportunities there were to prevent/delay this conflict that were missed or explicitly ignored. In the beginning of this volume, Churchill declares WWII should have been named "The Unnecessary War" and it is hard to argue with his thesis. But his insight into this entire process is terrific. I highly recommend this set of books for anyone interested in the War or a remarkable view into a great leader in a trying time.

    Finally, just a quick note on abridgment. It is true this is an unabridged audio book of the first of four volumes, but the four volumes are a textual abridgment of Churchill's original set of six volumes (but at least Churchill was apparently the one who did that abridgement). I have the original set of six and I am able to follow along with the audiobook. I end up reading the sections that were left out in the evenings and to me they are very interesting. Those sections left out are insightful and do add to the overall tapestry of the story.

    It does not make this version any less worthwhile, though. As others have noted, the narrator sounds like Churchill (or at least like I imagine Churchill would sound like) which adds to the overall experience.

    61 of 62 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taranthis 01-31-08
    Taranthis 01-31-08 Member Since 2014
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    "Great"

    An amazing insight into the circumstances that led to the WWII. Churchill is the ultimate wordsmith and this book is beautifully read.

    If you are interested in the war then this is an excellent purchase.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hello7890 05-18-08
    hello7890 05-18-08 Listener Since 2005
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    "great narration"

    I often had the feeling that I was listening to a narration by Churchill himself. I'm not sure if this is an excellent imitation or if it is the way the narrator usually speaks. The narrator does a great job of bringing the man (and his words) alive. He also switches voices very effectively for other characters (such as Chamberlain and Baldwin). This book mostly focuses on the politics that led Britain and France to do little to stop Hitler from mobilizing Germany for war. It is a fascinating inside view.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Austin Olathe, KS, USA 05-03-10
    Austin Olathe, KS, USA 05-03-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Exquisite, awe-inspiring. A new favorite."

    This audiobook repaid many experimental purchases which have proven unworthy. It is majestic, insightful, and wonderfully autobiographical. Winston Churchill recounts the pre-war years from a vantage near (but not at) the top, and as an influential leader with many burdens and cares, his intimations of fear and regret are very moving. There is a reason he was voted #1 in the BBC's "100 Greatest Britons" in 2002, above Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin, and it is a treat to listen, wrapped, as if seated with the great man as he recounts his celebrated exploits first-hand.

    Churchill's prose is often muscular and warlike, as was the man himself, despite his pinched voice and stature. Thus I think Christian Rodska has done a better job of narrating this work than the author could have. Who needs fiction with such grand history? As Churchill's closing lines declare, "Facts are better than dreams."

    You will be intrigued, frightened, inspired. You will get chills.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Massachusetts 06-18-11
    Carol Massachusetts 06-18-11

    Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken

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    "Stunning"

    Winston Churchill says in his Prologue that this book is not history--"that is for future generations"--but he is confident (and this man is nothing if not confident) that historians will find his accounts useful. An understatement.

    The narrative fully supports the old adages that "hindsight is 20-20" and "history is written by the victors." That said, it is a stunning experience, a unique you-are-there account of the 1930s into which are immersed. We experience the growing sense of helpless dread as the decade progresses and Hitler becomes stronger, the leaders of depression-ravaged Europe contort themselves in denial, and war becomes inevitable.

    History aside, this book is a literary masterpiece. Churchill's breadth of mind and stunning command of English prose is brought to vivid life by Christian Rodska. The sound-byte darlings and intellectual midgets of today's political scene need to sit back, listen, and maybe even learn.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory T. Lombardo New York City 12-02-08
    Gregory T. Lombardo New York City 12-02-08 Member Since 2013
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    "A Classic Account read to perfection"

    This is an account of WW-II from perhaps the most authoritative and articulate of witnesses. I was always sorry when I had to interrupt my listening to this classic. Few books I have listened to are so unceasingly compelling and as important in their subject matter. As a writer Churchill hardly needs either introduction or testament to his eloquence and fervor. Anyone unfamiliar with this work will be awed by his vision. Whether one agrees or not with Churchill's judgment, the experience of sharing his consciousness and his prose is an astonishing one. More than most selections this is a set of books to pass on from one generation to the next or from one connoisseur to another.

    The reading of these volumes is also nonpareil. Throughout I am convinced that I am listening to Churchill himself.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    harry PLEASANTON, CA, United States 01-30-11
    harry PLEASANTON, CA, United States 01-30-11
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    "Fantastic at all levels!"

    Though a student of history and WWII it never occured to me to read any Churchill. This is a masterwork that is wonderfuolly rendered with Christian Rodska narration. Listen to this book and it may well change your thinking regarding today's world events!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 06-30-13
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 06-30-13 Member Since 2011

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

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    "Straight from the horse's mouth"

    If you want an unbiased history of the build-up to World War II, look elsewhere. This book is Winston Churchill's interpretation of the momentous events culminating in his coming to power in the early stages of the conflict.

    But it is all the more interesting because it tells the story from his personal perspective. He is never shy of pointing out, time and time again, how his political colleagues could have avoided or delayed the war by standing up to Hitler. After the devastation of World War One the political climate in Britain was dominated by a desire for peace, and successive British governments stood back and watched while Hitler built a powerful military machine, a policy of appeasement which Churchill opposed vocally and consistently for many years. When Hitler invaded Belgium and Holland, the folly of the appeasers became undeniable and they stood down, making way for the one man who was ready for the fight.

    Churchill's command of the English language is, of course, legendary. His radio speeches stirred and galvanized the British people and motivated them to make the necessary sacrifices in Britain's darkest hour. Although the subject of this story is a sombre one, it is a joy to hear it told in Churchill's own words.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Acker Ozark, MO, United States 05-02-12
    Mark Acker Ozark, MO, United States 05-02-12 Member Since 2011

    Husband, father, nurse, geek culture affianado, tech junkie, late-blooming history lover, armchair theologist, Lego enthusiast, and follower of Christ.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great perspective!"

    It's one thing to read about WW2 from a historian, it's altogether different to hear it directly from one of the major players. It gave me new insight that I hadn't gathered from other books on the topic. The narration is also fantastic.

    My only complaint is that I didn't realize this was the first of 4 parts when I bought it. It only leads up to the beginning of the war. I would like to have paid 2 credits for all 4 books together rather than having to buy each one separately. That having been said, I probably will end up buying the other three books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Escondido, CA, United States 05-16-09
    John Escondido, CA, United States 05-16-09 Member Since 2015
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    "Outstanding"

    This is a great read (listen). The Narrator, besides being excellent sounds exactly like Churchill!!! Winston Churchill was a master wordsmith so combine the great narration with one of the best authors in history and you have a 5 star book. History buffs this is a must... can't wait to listen to Book #2 "Alone".

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • William
    Castlewellan, United Kingdom
    8/18/09
    Overall
    "Extremely good listening"

    Excellent, just excellent, I listened to this as one might to a novel,it was so gripping. I have only downloaded this title a day or two and have finished it already. All through the reading I could hear the great man's voice. The reading was very good indeed

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    9/16/11
    Overall
    "Riveting history by a master story-teller"

    I couldn't stop listening to this first of four parts of this monumental work covering the prelude and execution of the Second World War written by the man who saw Britain through its darkest hours. He writes wonderfully well in a fluent and captivating style that gives a tremendous sense of immediacy to this historical record. Being of the generation born just after the War much of the bones of the story are well-known but not the details of just how near to disaster our country came on several occasions. Churchill's fine writing and the precarious nature of the events described make for a wonderful listen greatly enhanced by Christian Rodska's masterly narration. I've immediately started listening to the next part of this quartet of books.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Mark
    Upper Belvedere, United Kingdom
    6/8/10
    Overall
    "Brilliance"

    Having finished listening to the whole four volumes of Churchill's WWII work, I can say that it was time extremely well spent. The narration was superb, with just enough Churchillism in the voice to bring images of the great man to mind. Churchill's writings are wonderful. If you are concerned that this work will be dull and tedious, don't worry, it is certainly not (I especially enjoyed the remark made by the Naval chap to the Russian official, after being offered a cigarette - find it in the fourth book!). Chances are, you'll be listening for a second or third time - I will. My only regret is that I listened to this work first - whereas, it may have been better to listen, initially, to the work on the first world war, then this work - but thats just me, there is no real reason why you cannot listen and enjoy this one first. Download this and enjoy. It will give you a better understanding of how the world managed to tumble into another war and of the great man himself. I don't really care much for celebrities, actors/actresses, singers and such, but of the very few people I admire, Churchill is one. And he would definitely be invited to my dining table- if only I could get the time machine to work!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Kurt
    Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
    3/5/10
    Overall
    "One of the best narrators I've heard"

    Christian Rodska really makes this book come alive. You can imagine sitting next to Churchill himself reading the book. His accent and interpretation are spot on. And he is equally adept at other character accents in the book. I really enjoyed listening to it and became absorbed in both the story and in Churchill's splendid use of the language.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Cambridge, United Kingdom
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Worth the read"

    Winston Churchill is a great writer besides being a great Prime Minister. Really good to hear it form his point of view rather than from others writing about him or the war. You definitely realise this was a man ahead of his time, and one of the few to really get Hitler.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/20/13
    Overall
    "Fantastic"

    This is a truly fantastic audiobook that has been very well narrated. I have listened to this time and again and keep finding new content of interest. If you have an interest in the second world war then, quite simply, you have to buy this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mindaugas
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    1/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good listen even for a non native english speaker"
    What made the experience of listening to The Second World War the most enjoyable?

    I was caution at first, knowing nearly zero about UK politics, as I was afraid the book would be filled with names I knew nothing about, knowledge of which would be a prerequisite to understand the story.

    It was not the case.

    It is a very interesting book. So interesting, that I purchased second one immediately after I finish it.


    What does Christian Rodska bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Christian Rodska does a superb job.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Michele
    Cranleigh, United Kingdom
    7/21/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Classic history lesson from the 'horses mouth'"
    If you could sum up The Second World War in three words, what would they be?

    I want to complete my education which is rather lacking in history so I am either reading novels based around important milestones or occasionally delving into the real deal. The Narrator Christian Rodska does a fair impression of Churchill when reading parts of his speeches and it really adds texture to the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The clear sentiments of Churchill about these historic times and his instincts that may have prevented war. Clearly written in hindsight but with sufficient evidence to suggest he did what he could at the time to avert disaster. I'm so pleased he chose to write the book.


    What does Christian Rodska bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He is excellent in bringing Churchill to life


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Liam Paul Robinson
    4/4/08
    Overall
    "Somewhat incomplete"

    A great audiobook and well read, as well.
    Unfortunatley, it ends in 1941, as it is only a part of a 4 part volume!

    When can we expect the rest, or do we have to live under the delusion that the war only lasted 2 years!

    4 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Roger
    Aylesbury, Bucks., United Kingdom
    1/11/08
    Overall
    "Great but what happened after 1942"

    Great but what happened after 1942. Audio downloads were in two parts which I assume med was the original two volumes Churchill wrote. It appears to finish in 1942 did Churchill write it this way or has something gone wrong ? otherwise very good.

    0 of 9 people found this review helpful

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