In the summer of 1914 most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continent's politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from.
The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison.
In 1939 Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse - a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust.
To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise - with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times - and what this means for us.
©2015 Ian Kershaw (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
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A strong and compelling narrative marking the start and finish to the two world wars of the 20th century. It is hard to belief that a great civilisation like Europe would in the space of 20 years embark on two of the the most destructive events in the first half of a century. Told with precision, facts and an erudite compilation - to hell and back is easily one of the best books I have listened to on audible to date!
Can't wait for volume 2
A superbly crafted overview of the European journey. As you might gauge a maps usefulness by its accuracy of your locality I found Kershaws balanced view of Ireland in the story a good indicator of his overall ability to be fair and reasonable.
A possible criticism would be the length of time describing the World War itself . Initially i thought the book would use this seminal event as a foundation to explain where it's consequences took Europe but it became merely descriptive for a long while .
A small criticism in an otherwise excellent book.
"If you only get one history book - make it this."
Possibly not, simply because it is more difficult to refer backwards and forwards with an audiobook. Also, history books are made to dip into, which you can't really do with an audiobook.
No, it's a book to be digested.
This is a history book that covers the period in Europe between the beginning of the First World War to the aftermath of the second world war magnificently. it conveys a huge amount of information in an easy and interesting way. The narrator, too, was perfect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it was extremely informative and gave a really good background to what was happening around Europe throughout this period, rather than the more common English focus of many history books. It was the first time on finishing an audiobook I immediately started it again, as there was so much really good information in it, i wanted to reread it to help reinforce what I had learnt from reading it. Well worth a read.
"Massive and magnificent!"
This book had a lot of to live up to holding events from both World Wars, intervening years and a few years after WW2. There is a lot information packed in a relatively short space and Kershaw combats this by not regurgitating old hat facts and figures, instead debate and analysis take a more central role.
I found this a fascinating book which engaged and challenged the reader and I will very likely be going to a repeat listen soon to ensure that I have not missed anything!
"a bit repetitious"
listening to this in the car over a few weeks I couldn't help wondering on quite a lot of occasions if I hadn't accidentally rewound. This is particularly apparent towards the end.
Themes, for example the role of the Catholic church in ww2, are returned to on several occasions but each time he seems to reiterate what was said earlier before adding to it.
I think the problem comes about because of the mix of linear narrative and cross cutting themes. the balance of which is pursued at any time is seemingly solved by repetition which in paper reading you'd probably skim but in audio you have to sit through.
"Allo Allo "
didn't like the accents affected in quotations. I thought economics might play a bigger role. too confident for a short book. didn't agree with some of the conclusions.
"Incredible and brilliant"
I loved this book. So well written and narrated. Superb way of presenting the material from different perspectives and trying to be as objective as possible. Great stuff.
"concise and interesting"
A really good account of this era. The writer covers all the relevant points but does not get boring with too much detail.
"Great history book!"
Loved every minute of it! Can't wait for the sequel, my horizons were broadened by the chapter.
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