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Publisher's Summary

From one of our finest military historians comes a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences.

World War II involved tens of millions of soldiers and cost sixty million lives—an average of twentyseven thousand a day. For 35 years, Max Hastings has researched and written about different aspects of the war. Now, for the first time, he gives us a magnificent, singlevolume history of the entire war.

Through his strikingly detailed stories of everyday people—of soldiers, sailors, and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the two year siege; Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews—Hastings provides a singularly intimate portrait of the world at war. He simultaneously traces the major developments—Hitler’s refusal to retreat from the Soviet Union until it was too late, Stalin’s ruthlessness in using his greater population to wear down the German army, Churchill’s leadership in the dark days of 1940 and 1941, Roosevelt’s steady hand before and after the United States entered the war—and puts them in real human context.

Hastings also illuminates some of the darker and less explored regions under the war’s penumbra, including the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland, during which the Finns fiercely and surprisingly resisted Stalin’s invading Red Army, and the Bengal famine in 1943 and 1944, when at least one million people died in what turned out to be, in Nehru’s words, “the final epitaph of British rule” in India.

Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the 20th century.

©2011 Max Hastings (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“This is the book [Hastings] was born to write: a work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written.” (Sunday Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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World War II

Would you consider the audio edition of Inferno to be better than the print version?

No.

What did you like best about this story?

The author’s extensive use of fresh anecdote and skillful use of nuance has put new flesh on old bones. An excellent appraisal of WWII.

What about Ralph Cosham’s performance did you like?

Very clear and well paced.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No.

Any additional comments?

The author’s extensive use of fresh anecdote and skillful use of nuance has put new flesh on old bones. An excellent appraisal of WWII.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Russian Hell

This is an amazing book. It really highlights the pounding the Russians and Germans gave each other over the course of the war. There is definitely an American side of things, but the author gives a take on all the participants in the war and makes it clear that Russia took the brunt of the Nazi expansion. Who won WWII in Europe? The Russians - and at a staggering cost.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Single Best Book on WWII?

Inferno by Max Hastings is a true masterpiece. It is both the war told from 30,000 feet and the war told from those on the ground. WWII is such a vast subject, perceived in so many ways by so many people that it is not possible to condense the event into a single volume. But, if you had to pick a single book from the thousands, this could be the one.

I would recommend this book as mandatory reading, not just to those interested in the war, but to everyone. Simply put, this is one book I would not want to have left unread. I suggest that it goes on the top of your list.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric
  • Northbrook, IL, United States
  • 06-22-15

Superb!

An excellent re-telling of the factors leading up to, during and post WWII. There's a bit more concentration on the European Theatre of operations but even for someone like myself who considers WWII a topic about which I know a great deal this is a fantastic novel. Hastings reveals numerous obscure, yet fascinating facts as well as the stories of battles, facts and circumstances that are very well known in a way that keeps the story captivating and interesting beginning to end. Finally I find the narrator Ralph Cosham to be among my very favorite. I highly recommend this novel.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Less military macro than human micro

I read a lot of WWII books, but this one was unusual. Despite the vastness of the project and the expanse of years, Hastings's book is highly personal. We listen to soldiers' and civilians' intensely moving diary entries, letters to loved ones, and eyewitness accounts. No other book has made the depth of suffering so clear and real to me, person by person by person.

And yet the book was not sensationalism. It was scholarly and informative. Hastings is clear in his opinions of the role each nation played in the war. Russia made the biggest contribution and, at great sacrifice, won the war for the Allies. The Brits don't come out looking so good. The US emerged, relatively speaking, unscathed.

I was so impressed with Inferno, I used my next credit for another Hastings book.

The narrator did a wonderful job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The enemy's view

Well written. Many new facts. If you love history, highly recommend this. Gives overview as well as personal touch to events

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dull & repetitive at times, different perspective



A lot of numbers but interesting personal accounts and new observations. Worth listening to

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • McCoffee
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • 12-13-14

Big scope, human, sad, great overview

Hastings hits on everything, especially the human costs of the war, not just the numbers of dead but the personal stories. The war is not a series of campaigns, this book reminds us, but a story of mass murder, rape, and starvation. Probably the best all-around history I've read. And Hastings is not reluctant to voice opinions. He's tough on the tyrannies of the time, of which their were many.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Incredible Insights The real history WWII

This is an incredible book. I learned more about WWII from this book then from other histories combined. After reading this book one has a better idea of why it was called a world war and a better understanding of the complex relationships between the Ally and Axis powers. Wars are not simple events and they are not attractive, Mr. Hastings respects both facts. The narration is excellent. In all ways a great audible book. I would recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the historical background to events after WWII and to contemporary events.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brittain
  • Grasonville, MD, United States
  • 01-26-14

Facinating

What made the experience of listening to Inferno the most enjoyable?

The author's in depth research and the way he addressed so many topics relating to the war. The war in Asia, Russia, Great Britain, Southeast Asia, Japan, the air phase, weaponry, Naval warfare (on the water, below the surface and naval aviation), the effects of war on the citizens of the countries at war; all of these topics are examined in a way we haven't seen previously

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the way he personalized so many events. His research must have uncovered personal diaries and letters.His quotes of those involved brought the event to life.I also enjoyed his analysis of phases of the war and how today the view of WWII personalities varies from the immediate post war view.

Any additional comments?

For those that enjoy lengthy detailed stories as I do, this book will capture you. Max Hastings brings history to light.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful