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Editorial Reviews

History, as Winston Churchill famously predicted, has been good to him. His exalted place in the 20th century annals has been cemented through his Noble Prize-winning memoir, A History of the Second World War. In this audiobook version of the four-volume, 45-hour memoir, British actor Christian Rodska conveys the triumphs and tragedies of WW II with a voice as august and buoyant as we know Churchill's to have been. Consistently riveting and rich in historical insight, Churchill's memoir puts the listener in intimate audience with the powerful oration and defiant eloquence with which Churchill led a continent through its darkest hour.

Publisher's Summary

Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction. Please note: This book was originally published in six volumes:

1.The Gathering Storm
2. Their Finest Hour
3. The Grand Alliance
4. The Hinge of Fate
5. Closing the Ring
6. Triumph and Tragedy

Churchill then condensed these into four volumes, which have since been released as one, rather hefty, publication. Audible has published the unabridged recordings of Churchill's condensed volume, divided into four parts, as follows:

1.Milestone to Disaster
2.Alone
3.The Grand Alliance
4.Triumph and Tragedy

©1959 Cassell and Co. Ltd; ©1990 the Esate of Winston Churchill; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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A Great Glimpse into the Time Between the Wars

Winston Churchill by any account must be one of the most amazing statesmen of the 20th century. His unparalleled position at the highest levels of government through both World Wars puts him in a unique position to reveal the forces at work in the interregnum between the two. In Milestones to Disaster, he does just that – not as he says as a “history” – but as an eyewitness account to be used by future historians. The fact that he is himself a masterful writer helps one not wait for some future analysis. This work is not only accessible, but it is a very enjoyable if unsettling glimpse into the European political shake-ups of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

I was given Churchill’s six volume history of World War II by my great uncle who had the privilege to meet the then Prime Minister at Harvard. Churchill spoke to the Navy officers that were being barracked there during the U.S.’s initial involvements in the war. This work is actually an abridgment of the first volume of that set The Gathering Storm. Churchill did the trimming himself for this work, but it has been pleasant to peruse the unabridged work to see what has been removed. Mainly it is coordinating documents that help to strengthen the assertions made by the author. It also contains several appendices that contain correspondence between Churchill and other world leaders and politicians. Both the full length and edited versions are readily accessible online and make worthy additions to any library.

In Milestones, the period after the Treaty of Versailles is examined with a brutal eye to all the failings made by the then world powers to keep Germany in check. One misstep after another is frighteningly unfolded for the reader. Even though, we all know where this story leads, it gives one a knot in the gut to see how it all may have been avoided. Churchill reveals how, to his thinking, the overwhelming liberal policies of socialism and disarmament weakened the victorious nations to a point where the defeated Germany could rise under Hitler’s cult of personality. By backing off in the critical moments again and again and capitulating to appease the Führer, the European governments doomed the world to repeat on a larger scale the slaughter of the first World War.

Mr. Churchill is definitely not afraid to point out the mistakes of others. While I’m sure that the facts that are being recorded are all trustworthy, he has gone a fair way to frame them to cast a better light on his position during this time. Churchill was consistently sounding the warning of Germany’s re-armament, and he takes great pride in his un-involvement of the policies that allowed this to happen. He doesn’t sweep his own personal misjudgments under the rug, but he shines a hard light on the British administrations that he sees as failing to protect the world from the German threat. He believes the playing out of Hitler’s conquest of central Europe is a vindication of his viewpoints, and he perceives his rise as an appointment of destiny.

If you’re not familiar with how Germany came a mere twenty years after being completely despoiled to conquering the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and Holland with virtually no resistance, this is the book to read. It’s a tragic tale, but one that needs to be understood if but for the hope that it will not be repeated. Churchill truly is one of the great twentieth century writers, and you will not be disappointed by his recollection.

7 stars out of 10

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Stunning Parallels to current events

A cautionary tale for today's secular progressive. Insightful and respectful examination of Neville Chamberlain's foreign policy at the beginning.

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  • Sam
  • Evans, WA, United States
  • 02-14-15

Extraordinary first-hand account

The most devastating war in human history. And as is evident, history not learned from is repeated... But in this case, we can ditch the banal generalizations and stupefying denatured time-lines, Hitler's most intractable and efficacious opponent also happens to be one of clearest and most engaging authors in the English language. Churchill has done us all another great service, by telling the story of what happened, and HOW it happened. A page turner. Read it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A First Hand Perspective

This is a great account if the second workd war from the perspective of ine of the great allied leaders, Winston Churchill. There are an endless number of books written on the subject, this is a great one for the history buffs out there looking for some details of which they were previously unaware. Narration is top notch.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

A unique perspective from a giant of 20th century leadership. Looking forward to the rest of the series. Very well read, entertaining.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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His point of view is detailed and exciting.

I wanted to learn of the events leading up to and during WWII from the British perspective and have not been disappointed. If there's one persons point of view to learn from it would be from the big man himself.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Spencer
  • North Attleboro, MA, United States
  • 10-05-14

Amazing, eloquent and surprising history

What made the experience of listening to The Second World War the most enjoyable?

The historical events, presented with sardonic humor and in great detail, along with Sir Winston's views of them, are just amazing to hear. And there are surprises here. Sir Winston explains how, in actual practice, the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles were NOT burdensome to Germany, and a few other gems that are uncommon among the common history of WWII. Also, quite incredible and enthralling are the events leading up to WWII, the desire for Pacifism, a noble goal, the growing machine of Blitzkrieg, and how ill timed and ill judged kindness and sentiment among nations who refused to see what was happening, led to disaster.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sir Winston himself.

What does Christian Rodska bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Rodska does a wonderful job as Sir Winston, and the various characters. His depiction is subtle, direct, powerful and sublime. He brings the entire world before you,Eminently easy to listen to, he communicates so much of the torment among civilized peoples struggling to realize that an unimaginable tyranny is developing in their midst. You feel the fear, and Sir Winston's frustration, as well as the insanity of Hitler and company.

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

Yes, when the Prime Minister of England, Neville Chamberlain, realizes that his recent years of effort towards peace were completely misguided. And as a great gentleman, his efforts to admit it publicly immediately, turn about and make change, but all too late. Yet, bound by his poor judgement, the errors continue to mount. It is a heart breaking moment when a well intentioned man, promoted beyond his capacity, fails his country and the world. Churchill and Rodska depict these moments with complete respect, but honors above all the truth and the desperation mounting at the time. Rodska, in his own brilliance, depicts Mr. Chamberlain's heartfelt sentiment, befudlement and shock at events, his resignation to honesty and duty, yet poor judgement. You hear a man of simplistic nobility surrounded by events he doesn't understand, yet, sticking to principle, tries to weather through. Rodska delivers a wonderful and moving performance.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Classic Churchil As If He Were Taliking To You

Would you listen to The Second World War again? Why?

I will quite likely listen again. There is so much information in this story that it is hard to absorb it all the first time.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Winston Churchill is THE character.

Any additional comments?

No one ever accused Winston Churchill of lacking an opinion or being overly modest. This is the story of how the World became ensnarled in the Second World War from his personal perspective. Although he tends to blow his own horn at times, Churchill's experience and understanding of world history in the first half of the 20th Century makes this both entertaining and educational. Christian Rodska manages to imitate his style of speech so well that you can really believe it is Churchill speaking.<br/>I was born two months before D-Day in one of the English ports that was to become one of the embarkation points for D-Day. Growing up I was taught to have considerable respect for Churchill, so I might be a little biased.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Must read for any WWII enthusiast

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

Yes but not as the first and only. That would be: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.,

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

These are his words.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Fred
  • Princeton, NJ, United States
  • 06-05-14

He sounds like Churchil!

What about Christian Rodska’s performance did you like?

Great voice all the way.

Any additional comments?

I didn't think there was anything I didn't know about World War II, but this book was so personal and real. It is well worth the time.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful