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Publisher's Summary

With an introduction read by Max Hastings.

Within days of the D-Day landings, the 'Das Reich' 2nd SS Panzer Division marched north through France to reinforce the front-line defenders of Hitler's Fortress Europe. Veterans of the bloodiest fighting of the Russian Front, 15,000 men with their tanks and artillery, they were hounded for every mile of their march by saboteurs of the Resistance and agents of the Allied Special Forces. Along their route they took reprisals so savage they will live forever in the chronicles of the most appalling atrocities of war.

Max Hasting's powerful account of their progress is a true military classic. Max Hastings, author of 20 books, was editor of the Daily Telegraph for almost a decade, and then for six years edited the Evening Standard in London. In his youth he was foreign correspondent for newspapers and BBC television. He has won many awards for his journalism, particularly his work in the South Atlantic in 1982. He was knighted in 2002.

©1984 Max Hastings (P)2014 Audible Studios

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A case study of a Nazi Panzer Regiment France 1944

I found this book to be a little like the TV sitcom 'Hallo Hallo' and a mix of clique Nazi behaviour and sometimes nothing new in behaviour of armies throughout history. Max Hastings asks these questions by the end of the book and although not excusing the Das Reich still shows that even the British Army is guilty of such behaviour at times if not on such a scale. Personally I don't believe international law has answered the question about irregulars, partisans, guerrillas and terrorists. One side has to play by the rules whilst the other seems to have carte blanche to carry on as they wish, as long as they are on the winning side. Max Hasting has decided to leave out some of the more dreadful details and un-collaborated evidence to keep the story flowing which helps to focus on the history. Das Reich was never going to win the hearts & minds of the French and their tactics of terror was used to effect throughout Europe especially in Russia, so what could you expect? As for the British and Allies. They really had no idea how to use the resistance properly, or what genie they had help to let out of the bottle. Nobody comes out of this story looking good. Perhaps the Americans but only due to their naivety. Like any soldier, when your enemy isn't in uniform, does not play by the rules and kills indiscriminately, everybody becomes the enemy. You tend to fight fire with fire.

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  • Jim
  • 08-04-14

Gripping, balanced, multifaceted

This is a great listen in combination with Hastings' "Bomber Command" as the two stories overlap in interesting ways. "Das Reich" would work as a straightforward thriller without Hastings' characteristic hard work in telling the story of strategic decisions by war leaders and the individual stories of combatants gleaned from diaries and interviews. In combination it really is an outstanding listen that went straight to replay after the first hearing.

The core of the book starts in spring 1944 with Hitler weighing up his troops in France and deciding they're too old and soft to stand up to the imminent D Day invasions. He calculates that he can just about spare the Das Reich panzer division from the Russian front and so they're recalled to add firepower, ferocity and professionalism to the defence. Once in France they wait for the landing beaches to become clear and D-Day itself acts as a starters pistol as they're tasked to race to the landing beaches while the combined forces of the French Resistance, the RAF and various secret service operatives try to delay the journey long enough for a beach-head to be properly established.

Complicating factors include a massive influx of volunteers to the resistance as French citizens rush to get on the winning side of the conflict, squabbling allied commanders seeking the glory of making the decisive blow in defeating Nazism and the Das Reich themselves who returned from 3 years of annihilating 24/7 conflict in Russia suffering from a sort of rabid collective blood lust. So the allies were an enthusiastic shambles and Das Reich were primed to get hopelessly distracted from the race to Normandy at the first sign of trouble from the natives. Local French non-combatants paid a terrible price.

Hastings makes all of this incredibly gripping. He's great at using first person testimony to breath life into historical tragedy; his analysis of the battle for leadership in the strategic thinking of Allied and Axis forces is intellectually satisfying and he really shows you the hard work invested in tracking down and interviewing combatants from all sides who are now no longer alive. This is top class popular history and it's really making me think that I'll just have to give in and get all of Hastings' offerings on Audible.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris M
  • 04-10-15

Excellent book and narration (when it's set right

As usual Max Hastings work is excellent. the narration j's Ok but only (I found) when I set the play speed to x1.25 as I found the narrators delivery far too slow. Problem solved by listening at x1.25 speed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jayceon1888
  • 05-09-17

Excellent *****

A story well known but brought to life with great in depth research and told in a more personal way than your average history book ! Great listen, really enjoyed

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  • Mr O.
  • 11-25-16

Entertaining and well read

The narrator was clear and concise, he also added feeling to the narrative. The content of the audio book was extremely interesting and was full of interesting facts.

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  • J
  • 05-21-15

An Eye Opening Listen!

An interesting look at the journey of the Das Reich during their journey towards the Normandy landings in World War 2. However…. I felt that the story was slightly to drawn out and did struggle to maintain concentration during some of it. The narration was hard to fault and did help interest levels when the “story” slowed down.

The context of events was well placed into the larger picture and it was an interesting listen but could have been shortened in several places to improve the listening experience.

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  • w
  • 10-09-14

Too Much Anecdotal Reference.

A book filled by good research but rather spoiled by too much un-necessary anecdotal evidence.
The down side over all, was the pathetic narration.
Fell asleep sometimes listening to the pathetic reading.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Karrie
  • 04-17-15

Very graphic although accurate in parts

What did you like best about Das Reich? What did you like least?

Not a lot..

Who was your favorite character and why?

There wasn't one

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

He makes it too real

Did Das Reich inspire you to do anything?

Yes not read anything about the SS and similar Germans soldiers

Any additional comments?

I don't wish to appear weak, but there should be a warning about the content.

The description of how babies and their mothers were locked in the church and set fire to was too real.

0 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-26-17

A balanced book

The author provides an intensely interesting account of the times and by reflection. For those, like myself who don't speak French I'm sure though I have missed many points made in the book as there is no translations of these numerous comments.

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  • Chris
  • 10-20-16

Overdone French pronunciaion

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The book has the right mix of drama, suspense, history and action to hold your attention.

What did you like best about this story?

Having visited Oradour sur Glane I thought I understood the complicated story behind the massacre but this book gave me a much better background

Did Nigel Carrington do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

The narrator portrayed the characters well but he appeared to have a need to impress his readers with his knowledge of French pronunciation. The French passages, names and places were over dramatised and annunciated to the point that I hardly recognised them! The audio engineers must have spent quite some time cleaning sputum out of the microphone!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Oradour sur Glane. Unforgettable

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  • Phillip
  • 12-19-14

Beyond the Normandy beachs: This is what happened

This book has authority: Sir Max Hastings is a renowned historian. His retelling of the movements of the Das Reich Panzer Division, immediately pre and post D-Day is founded on his own personal interviews with many of the participants of the time. So often history is (perhaps unintentionally), stripped of its dimensions as re-tellers focus on the iconic parts, for example the June 6 D-Day landings. But just one 'ripple' back from that massive 'splash' was yet another story unfolding...a story which delivers much the same as the rest on the horror-meter, but is none-the-less a vital puzzle-piece in coming to terms with what really happened around the D-Day phenomenon. A little too dense in details perhaps, for the reader who just wants a good non-fiction yarn...but spot on for those readers who want to hear the stories of WW2 in authentic and complex detail. It is vital that these stories are told, so that history can once again be understood with realism.

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