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The Liberator Audiobook

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau

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Publisher's Summary

The true story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War: the battlefield odyssey of a maverick U.S. Army officer and his infantry unit as they fought for over five hundred days to liberate Europe - from the invasion of Italy to the gates of Dachau.

From July 10, 1943, the date of the Allied landing in Sicily, to May 8, 1945, when victory in Europe was declared - the entire time it took to liberate Europe - no regiment saw more action, and no single platoon, company, or battalion endured worse, than the ones commanded by Felix Sparks, who had entered the war as a greenhorn second lieutenant of the 157th "Eager for Duty" Infantry Regiment of the 45th "Thunderbird" Division. Sparks and his fellow Thunderbirds fought longest and hardest to defeat Hitler, often against his most fanatical troops, when the odds on the battlefield were even and the fortunes of the Allies hung in the balance - and when the difference between defeat and victory was a matter of character, not tactics or armor.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Sparks and dozens of his men, as well as over five years of research in Europe and in archives across the US, historian Alex Kershaw masterfully recounts one of the most inspiring and heroic journeys in military history. Over the course of four amphibious invasions, Sparks rose from captain to colonel as he battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the diehard SS on the Fatherland's borders. Though he lost all of his company to save the Allied beach-head at Anzio and an entire battalion in the dark forests of the Vosges, Sparks miraculously survived the long bloody march across Europe and was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria to hunt down Adolf Hitler.

In the dying days of the Third Reich, Sparks and his men crossed the last great barrier in the West, the Rhine, only to experience some of the most intense street fighting and close combat suffered by Americans in WWII. When they finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Hitler's first and most notorious concentration camp, the Thunderbirds confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason. With victory within grasp, Sparks confronted the ultimate test of his humanity: after all he had faced, could he resist the urge to wreak vengeance on the men who had caused untold suffering and misery?

Written with the narrative drive and vivid immediacy of Kershaw's previous best-selling books about American infantrymen in WWII, The Liberator is a story for the ages, an intensely human and dramatic account of one of history's greatest warriors and his unheralded role in America's finest achievement - the defeat of Nazi Germany.

©2012 Alex Kershaw (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"[Kershaw] is a captivating narrator, hammering home the chaos and carnage of war, sparing no sensory detail to paint a cohesive picture. [His] portrayal of his subject (based on interviews with Sparks, who died in 2007, and other survivors) makes for a riveting, almost epic tale of a larger-than-life, underappreciated figure." (Publishers Weekly)

"This engrossing wartime narrative offers a fresh look at the European campaign and an intimate sense of the war’s toll on individual participants." (Kirkus Reviews)

"A searing, brilliantly told story of the heroism and horror of war, Alex Kershaw's The Liberator is a book that's impossible to put down. A must read for anyone who loved Band of Brothers." (Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (413 )
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Performance
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  •  
    John East Lindfield, Australia 12-04-12
    John East Lindfield, Australia 12-04-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Different story of the US Army in Europe"

    Felix Sparks comes across as an amazing but perfectly believe-able person caught up in WW2.
    It also tells the story of a different front for the US Army in Western Europe in WWII.
    From Sicily to Italy to Southern France, then across the Siegfried line into southern Germany.
    As one of the GIs said when asked "Which beach did you land on" - implying Normandy, he said "We landed on so many beaches we lost count".
    Also keep listening to the end, the story doesn't end in 1945.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Ranahan Florida 07-28-17
    James Ranahan Florida 07-28-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Amazing courage and sacrifice ."

    511 days under enemy fire with tragic losses of brave soldiers wearing the Thunderbird insignia of the 45th Division.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 06-15-17
    Joe 06-15-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting take away at the end re: NRA"

    First off, wonderful book overall.

    I had an interesting personal takeaway at the end. Sparks, after enduring a family tragedy, fights the NRA to make it illegal for those under 18 to carry a handgun.

    I'm a conservative and generally support the NRA, so I found it interesting that a man I, after reading the book, now greatly respect and admire needed to push back against them. Basically, it was an eye opener for me. I'm not weighing in on who's right and who's wrong, only saying that it was a different experience to have my worldview change. When hippies and social justice warriors and big gov control folks start bashing the NRA I could care less, doesn't sway my opinion. But when a man like Felix Sparks, someone I have the utmost respect for, feels the need to push against them that is an opinion I will take seriously.

    It's made me realize that I shouldn't always blindly follow an organization, and to look for room for reasonable compromise.

    Anyways, just a takeaway I had.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bking71 Las Vegas, NV 06-08-17
    bking71 Las Vegas, NV 06-08-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great story about Mr Sparks"

    Great story about Felix Sparks, however the narrators attempts to match accents were just annoying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederick J. Kassis 03-21-17
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    "The Liberator"

    Spellbinding from the very beginning! Should be required reading for all high schoolers, whose knowledge about the war is abysmal! Such courage is almost beyond comprehension!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Us 5 Camp 03-13-17
    Us 5 Camp 03-13-17
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    "Great man, good book in context..."

    I hesitate to be hard on this book. It's a glossy overview of the war through Felix Sparks, a truly great man among great men who fought and suffered valiantly. It does a great job at this surface level coverage. Is it as detailed as other books? No. Am I still glad I read it? Yes. It's amazing this experiences of those who best the odds of survival to experience so much in so many places. See the memoirs of Col. Hans VonLuek

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike E. Kirkwood, NY United States 03-04-17
    Mike E. Kirkwood, NY United States 03-04-17 Member Since 2013
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    "A great military history."

    Great military history of 157th Infantry Regiment & Lt Col. Felix Sparks across Europe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan 11-08-16
    Dan 11-08-16
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    "America's equired reading"

    This should be required reading for every American to help them better understand where we came from as a nation so that we might not so casually carry the freedom we enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances Manly 11-02-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great story line"
    What did you like best about this story?

    This is an amazing story of what the soldiers went through. There is a lot in this story about Italy and how hard they had to fight to win.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kurt W. 08-19-16
    Kurt W. 08-19-16
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    "An Amazing Story"

    Its hard to believe that 1 man went through so many bitter battles and survived all of it. It really gave me a good sense of what it was like for the troops on the front lines and greater appreciation for the sacrifice they made for our freedom today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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