LISTENER

Alek

Waiting for you on the horizon...
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 18
  • helpful votes
  • 9
  • ratings
  • Kiev 1941

  • Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East
  • By: David Stahel
  • Narrated by: Matthew Waterson
  • Length: 14 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19

In just four weeks in the summer of 1941 the German Wehrmacht wrought unprecedented destruction on four Soviet armies, conquering central Ukraine and killing or capturing three quarters of a million men. This was the Battle of Kiev - one of the largest and most decisive battles of World War II and, for Hitler and Stalin, a battle of crucial importance. For the first time, David Stahel charts the battle's dramatic course and aftermath.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Explanation of Kiev Battle.

  • By William R. Toddmancillas on 03-22-19

Exhaustive analysis

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-11-19

Book reaches wide, covering events before and after the battle. Nothing major to hold against it, other than the fact that it may have repeated some points a few times too many. I applaud the author for delving deep into decidedly unglamorous realm of logistical framework of the conflict. The light it sheds upon shockingly ramshackle state of logistics and frontline transportation assets is perhaps the biggest contribution of the book to the study of the War in the East (or, Great Patriotic War, if you prefer).

Solid academic study, that does not seem to fall into the trap of leaning heavily into merely trusting accounts of either adversary. Clearheaded, thorough work. Not a light reading, obviously.

  • Red Star Against the Swastika

  • The Story of a Soviet Pilot over the Eastern Front
  • By: Vasily B. Emelianenko
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

This is the extraordinary story of Vasily B. Emelianenko, the veteran pilot of one of the Soviet Union's most contradictory planes of the Second World War - the I1-2. Having flown 80 combat sorties against the Germans, Emelianenko was awarded the highest decoration - the Hero of the Soviet Union. He went on to complete a total of 92 sorties; his plane was shot down three times; and on each occasion, he managed to pilot the damaged aircraft home. Emelianenko's vivid memoirs provide a rare insight into the reality of fighting over the Eastern Front and the tactics of the Red Army Air Force.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Soviet WW2 bio

  • By Alek on 12-19-18

Solid Soviet WW2 bio

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-19-18

This biography teaches two important lessons about the war:

- clear evidence is given as to why Soviets struggled in the early war. Author’s experience shows how hard it is for an airforce to recover from decimation in war conditions. What was demanded from all survivors in early war was above and beyond what other nations expected form their pilots. Author’s unit was down to TWO combat ready pilots at one point, and they were still sent on combat mission.

- shows the value of biographies of close ground support pilots in the early war. They operated on low altitudes and were expected to provide detailed recon information after the flight, as such, author is able to give details about the situation on the ground during their missions. Most biographies are unable to glimpse far beyond author’s immediate surroundings, which is not the case in this one.

Shame the book appears to have been written when pilot was 94 years old, if it were done earlier, I am certain we would have been treated to even greater breadth of detail.

My main criticisms are that the book is a tad on the short side, and that the narrator’s pronunciation of Russian names and places is somewhat rough. Still, a worthwhile read.





-

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Command Failure in War: Psychology and Leadership

  • By: Philip Langer, Robert Pois
  • Narrated by: Tim Welch
  • Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

Why do military commanders fail at crucial moments of their careers? Robert Pois and Philip Langer, one a historian, the other an educational psychologist, study seven cases of military command failures, from Frederick the Great at Kunersdorf to Hitler’s invasion of Russia. While the authors recognize the value of psychological theorizing, they do not believe that one method can cover all the individuals, battles, or campaigns under examination. Instead, they judiciously take a number of psycho-historical approaches in hope of shedding light on the behaviors of commanders during war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Challenging, but worthwhile experience

  • By Alek on 08-03-18

Challenging, but worthwhile experience

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-18

This book is not leisurely one, and definitely requires a certain level of mastery on the subject of history of war, and some degree of psychology knowledge to fully grasp. Thos text is a bridge betwixt military history and psychology.

The text is very likely to challenge your views on certain military figures and this will likely to you grow more apprehensive about what you are hearing. It was so for me. As I continued on with the book, my tension eased, and perhaps somewhat grudgingly, I began to appreciate the viewpoint presented. Book provides food for thought, and an opportunity to look at events in new, unfamiliar ways.

Bear with it, overall, authors are refreshingly modest in the self-perceived power of their analysis, as diligent scholars ought to be. I would go as far as to say as this may be a good candidate for a mandatory reading for candidates to officer’s school (assuming they had sufficient prerequisites to be able to grasp the substance).

All in all, not a book for everyone. But those who have the necessary foundation, will find the book refreshingly challenging, and a fuel for conversation among your peers.

On the technical side, book has some relatively minor issues with narration. At later parts, narrator repeats lines several times on a few occasions - this was a bit disorienting, at times.
Also, his pronunciation of foreign names (among the languages I have knowledge of)is, at times, comically atrocious.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • World History of Warfare

  • By: Christon I. Archer, John R. Ferris, Holger H. Herwig, and others
  • Narrated by: Scott Carrico
  • Length: 28 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 20

World History of Warfare covers worldwide military history from ancient times to the present and is designed for college courses. Its principal theme is an exploration of change and continuity, revolution and tradition, in three thousand years of warfare. It teaches students and general listeners how warfare evolved and how that evolution affected human society, with emphasis on major turning points in the conduct of warfare rather than a superficial general history of wars.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating tour de force of warfare

  • By Alek on 07-23-18

Fascinating tour de force of warfare

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-23-18

Overall, a worthwhile read, some parts are stronger than others, but it builds upon the preceding sections, culminating in the latter part (around chapter 22, I believe), where it really gives sharp conclusions to the whole continuum of warfare through the ages. This particular section was the gem of the whole book, which can really be appreciated in the context of the preceding chapters.
Importantly, book covers both east and west in good detail.

Few parts of the book are based on outdated scholarship, but are not critical drawbacks in the context of the aim of presenting overall history of warfare. Nevertheless, be mindful that some details here are considered inaccurate by contemporary scholars.

Valuable read, fairly engaging (though not exceptionally so), with few small flaws.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Tigers in the Mud

  • The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius
  • By: Otto Carius
  • Narrated by: Paul Woodson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 375

World War II began with a metallic roar as the German Blitzkrieg raced across Europe, spearheaded by the most dreaded weapon of the 20th century: the Panzer. No German tank better represents that thundering power than the infamous Tiger, and Otto Carius was one of the most successful commanders to ever take a Tiger into battle, destroying well over 150 enemy tanks during his incredible career.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By ryan j diamond on 01-24-17

A troubled, yet worthwhile read...

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-25-18

This book was a rollercoaster of disturbing, captivating, informative, admiring, and repulsive feelings, unlike any other book I had come across.

Herr Carius is certainly a talented, sharp frontline tank commander. An ace. He is also unrepentant man of a mixed bag of convictions, and my opinion of him changed multiple times throughout the book, making this review quite hard to write.

First of all, know that this book was written initially for his fellow members of heavy tank battalion 502, and only afterwards changed for the public. If you interested in the nitty gritty of life and employment this vaunted formation, this book is a must have! It is a must have if you want to imagine what was it like to fight in Tiger I. You will know intimately it’s drawbacks and strengths, how they fought and set alight, how was it like to pull sentry duty in it, how small lapses in coordination led to death and defeat. These things are greatest strength of the book.

Otto Carius reserves his admiration for frontline soldiers. It is not clear how he feels about Nazism though. On one hand, he keeps it at a distance, yet a lot of what he says reminded me quite a bit of the sentiments expressed by Hitler himself in his autobiography/manifesto, which ought to make one wonder. Ultimately, Otto Carius may not be a genuine Nazi, one can get a sense that he has more things in common with them than he cares to admit.

There is a great deal of anger to be found in the book, anger pours at us right from the preface, and beyond. For example, Carius is furious about civilians helping US soldiers in the final days of the war, he sees them as lowliest traitors, backstabbers. Yet, few chapters earlier, Carius expects to Soviet village kid to reveal to him the disposition of the Red Army. To him, Soviet civilians are supposed to help the invaders, yet Germans were despicable to do the exact same thing. Such contradictions appear here and there in this book.

I’ve been taken somewhat aback by frontline soldier’s memoir which had shown such persistent disdain to one’s enemy. He disdains Soviet soldiers, at other points, he disdains US soldiers, sneeringly calling them “liberators” with thinly veiled contempt. Much later, he grudgingly admits Soviet competence compared to GIs, which sounds less like a gesture of respect, but rather as a further barb at his American opponents (yet, amusingly, entertaining the idea that these much maligned Allies may arm and supply them to lead the united fight against Soviet Union).

To Carius, Wehrmacht is free of blame. They are heroes. Saviours. Frontline SS are heroes, even. To him, WW2 was always about a valiant, selfless struggle against Bolshevism on the behalf of the West.

He is unrepentant, defiant to the last. He seems to believe that German mistakes in WW2 were largely tactical and strategic, nothing more.

It is this a worthwhile book? Yes it is. Especially if you want to delve into the lives of heavy tank battalion. BUT if you go through this book I urge you to also go through Hans Von Luck’s “Panzer Commander”. Contrast between Carius and Luck is tremendous.

Von Luck’s memoirs are a powerful foil to Carius, despite two men sharing similar roles in the war. Ideally, I would suggest Von Luck to be read first.

Ultimately, “Tigers in the Mud” paints a portrait of a fascinating, yet deeply flawed soldier.
I urge you strongly, however, read in the context with other German autobiographies, as Carius’ takeaways from the war are at odds with what other soldiers arrived to.







2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Panzer Commander

  • The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck
  • By: Hans von Luck, Stephen E. Ambrose (introduction)
  • Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
  • Length: 15 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,853
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,729
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,727

A stunning look at World War II from the other side.... From the turret of a German tank, Colonel Hans von Luck commanded Rommel's 7th and then 21st Panzer Division. El Alamein, Kasserine Pass, Poland, Belgium, Normandy on D-Day, the disastrous Russian front - von Luck fought there with some of the best soldiers in the world. German soldiers. Awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knight's Cross, von Luck writes as an officer and a gentleman.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Reads like Forrest Gump ( a fiction )

  • By Randall on 11-08-16

A mesmerising life, no other way to put it...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-20-18

Where to begin...

If Von Luck’s life’s story was not verified by a historian S.E. Ambrose, I confess, I would have a hard time believing it.

One of the rare warrior-gentlemen who was thrust into almost every major event of the war. As a lower level frontline commander, he offers a very insightful view on every conflict he was engaged in. Often on the very tip of the spear, his observations are invaluable, and his words are clear. He fights in almost every theatre (no Sweden, and naval war) and the reader sees it all through his eyes.

As sceptical as I was when I started reading, there is very little doubt that he was a remarkably good natured man. You can see it in the friends he effortlessly made (and kept!) regardless where he was, even those who were his foes initially: German, French, British, Bedouin, Georgian, Russian. His devoted friends are a testament to his kind soul. It is a shame he is no longer with us, for I would have surely written him a letter otherwise.

Those who studied WW2 in the past, will likely recognise that Von Luck was the source for many of the stories that trickled down into other history books. Lastly, it has been a long time since a biography had made my weep uncontrollably. This book succeeded doing so twice.

He does not shy away from discussing German crimes, but he does maintain that frontline troops are blameless. I suppose here he may be forgiven, since the necessities of war prevented him from exploring the validity of this view. Aside from this, the book is an absolute must read for anyone interested in WW2, or captivating historical memoirs.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Adventures in My Youth

  • A German Soldier on the Eastern Front 1941-45
  • By: Armin Scheiderbauer
  • Narrated by: James A. Gillies
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215

The author could be described as a veteran in every sense of the word, even though he was only age 21 when the war ended. Armin Scheiderbauer served as an infantry officer with the 252nd Infantry Division, German army, and saw four years of bitter combat on the Eastern Front, being wounded six times. This is an outstanding personal memoir, written with great thoughtfulness and honesty.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Heartfelt, vivid and sober story

  • By Alek on 01-07-18

Heartfelt, vivid and sober story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-07-18

An absolute pleasure, quite eloquently written and performed. Other biographies can learn much from this one.

Compelling story of a pious youth brought up by war. Starkly vivid view of the life in and around the frontline, from the perspective of a junior infantry officer. Subject of crimes was directly dwelled upon at great length, perhaps by the nature of very active frontline career. My impression is that the author was honest throughout, especially considering the fact that this manuscript was not intended to be published.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate

  • By: Al Franken
  • Narrated by: Al Franken
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 15,092
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13,927
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 13,786

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect. It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was reading this when the allegations against Franken came out

  • By Fruitsalad200 on 12-10-17

Witty, illuminating, important

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-04-18

First book of Al’s I went through.

He appears to be an excellent writer, and his delivery is impeccable.
Interestingly, some of what he says in the latter part of the book, somewhat anticipates what had happened to him afterwards, which seems to me a demonstration of the quality of his introspective musings.

Great look on the process of becoming and being a US Senator. And a fair few things I never expected to learn. Oh, and Ted Cruz part was brilliant.