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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on previously unpublished eyewitness accounts, prizewinning historian Donald L. Miller has written what critics are calling one of the most powerful accounts of warfare ever published. Here are the horror and heroism of World War II in the words of the men who fought it, the journalists who covered it, and the civilians who were caught in its fury. Miller gives us an up-close, deeply personal view of a war that was more savagely fought - and whose outcome was in greater doubt - than one might imagine. This is the war that Americans on the home front would have read about had they had access to the previously censored testimony of the soldiers on which Miller builds his gripping narrative.

Miller covers the entire war - on land, at sea, and in the air - and provides new coverage of the brutal island fighting in the Pacific, the bomber war over Europe, the liberation of the death camps, and the contributions of African Americans and other minorities. He concludes with a suspenseful, never-before-told story of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, based on interviews with the men who flew the mission that ended the war.

Donald L. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College. He is a creator and associate producer of the HBO documentary He Has Seen War and has been chief consultant for numerous award-winning PBS productions. He is author of the prizewinning City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America.

©1945 Henry Steele Commager; renewed by Lou Reda Productions and Mary Steele Commager. Revisions; and introduction 2001 by Donald L. Miller (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This is the book that deserves to be titled  The Story of World War II...." (James Bradley,  New York Times best-selling author)
"A major publishing event. Donald Miller’s additions to the original account are outstanding, and the total effect is one few readers will ever forget." (David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author)
"Whenever you do a film, there’s always a book that you want in your hip pocket to settle all questions.  The Story of World War II was that book." (Ken Burns, creator of the seven-part documentary  The War)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Amazing Inspiring Thought Provoking

What other book might you compare The Story of World War II to and why?

Donald Miller 'the Story of World War II' stands out as exceptional just like 'Masters of the Air - America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany '

Which scene was your favorite?

The ending with its amazing insights to the 'casualty of war' is truly epic! It should be reading material for all young people

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

I'm not a emotional guy but on many occasions I couldn't help but feel awe and amazment of the people and the times. In so many ways I wish today's society had some of the values and characters of that time. I am glad however that we don't have all of them though!

Any additional comments?

The soldiers reflections many years after the war are truly moving and must never be forgotten, never treated lightly. We could do well for the future if we stop and look back to the past and be inspired and scared of the highest and lowest of humanity brought out during such a troubled time!

While this may not be a book you will listen to from start to finish, you may find yourself like me wanting to take a break from it every now and again. Nevertheless, it is one you will always find yourself coming back to learn from, not just of the historical details but because of the wonderful perspective the author brings to the story through the accounts of the people involved!

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • geffrey
  • KENT, WA, United States
  • 05-02-13

Best written, best narrator

Hands down among the best of 20+ related books on this topic I've read or listened to in the past decade. A generous, over-arching history of WWll, factoid-filled and fleshed out with choice, heartfelt recollections of the men and women who were there, in broad spectrum of their capacities. Wrapped up with the perfect ender.

Excellent, excellent, excellent. And at 25hrs a prize and a half.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Overview of a Catastrophic Event

I randomly found out about this book from the recommended history category books on Audible. I've always been a history buff and have read countless articles and books about World War II.

There are several stories and facts that kept even the typical WW2 enthusiast wanting more. These days, it's hard to find non-recycled material in books like these.

You'll find that much of the history is told in the words of soldiers or journalists embedded with the American troops or sailors. It definitely focuses on the American side of the war, but I recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about World War II without getting into the boring details. If you're interested in more WW2; give "Pacific Crucible" a shot, I think you'll like it just as well.

Overall: This book was perfect for the layman's WW2 interest. It was rarely boring and kept my attention throughout most of the reading. The narration was good as well. I'd give it a 4.5 for sure.

If this review helped you please click the button below...thanks.

52 of 55 people found this review helpful

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Hands down the best World War ll book I have read

Where does The Story of World War II rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Close to the top is not the top. The personal accounts in this book make the war live in a way that is missing from most history books.

What other book might you compare The Story of World War II to and why?

This is my second book by Donald Miller and I will order his book on New York tomorrow.
This is the book to read to immerse your self in the battles and the history of the war.

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

The narration is a s good as it gets.

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

The ending is very touching as tells of how solders came to grips with there emotions from the war. It was interesting how solders would not talk about the war because they did not feel others understood unless they had been there.

Any additional comments?

Listen to this book if you have any interest in World War ll forget the others this is the book to start with

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Painting Pictures through experience

What I loved about listening to this book was that I really felt like I was listening to the people tell their stories. They made everything seem even worse than I imagined it myself, which is why I choose to learn about war.

We must all learn from the lessons of generations past and remember that war is terrible, this book really drives that home.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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INCREDIBLE! WELL-RESEARCHED, COMPLETE & UNBIASED!

I thought I had "WW II'd" myself into a coma, listening to or reading more than 50 books and watching a kazillion documentaries and online videos about World War II in the past year. I was just about to pass on this 25 hour account when I became outraged by one of the written reviews. While giving the book an overall favorable review, without the 5-star rating of the other written reviews, this listener claimed that her only criticism was that the book overdid the contributions of African-Americans to the war. REALLY? This is one of the very few books NOT written by a black author that even MENTIONS the many minority members of the military who fought in ALL of our wars, including the Civil War. Blacks were originally seen by the US as "not fit for combat duty" and were given positions as cooks, supply clerks, deck hands, etc. Eleanor Franklin changed all of that.

Was this reviewer aware of the MAJOR support that the 761st Tank Battalion - the first all-black tank battalion - gave to General Patton, helping him win the war? Black soldiers were relegated to what the military termed as "iron coffins" due the cumbersome movement of the tanks and the ever-present carbon monoxide leaking INSIDE the vehicles (often killing black soldiers silently, to be found by their comrades sitting up, eyes open, mid-sentence). Yet, Patton openly claimed "that a colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor." (In the 1970 film "Patton", the 761st unit was depicted as WHITE soldiers coming to the general's aid!) While saving the lives of hundreds white "comrades", who openly called the members of the 761st "niggers" and "monkeys", the unit suffered 156 casualties; 24 men killed and 88 wounded, in the month of November 1944 ALONE! The unit also lost 14 tanks and another 20 damaged in combat. In December 1944, the battalion was rushed to the aid of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne. After the Battle of the Bulge, the unit opened the way for the U.S. 4th Armored Division into Germany during an action that breached the Siegfried Line. In the final days of the war in Europe, the 761st was one of the first American units to reach the Steyr in Austria, at the Enns River, where they met with Ukrainians of the Soviet Army. THAT IS JUST ONE UNIT IN ONE BRANCH OF THE MILITARY!

Black Americans fought and died with distinction in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. But the real tragedy is that, after serving their country in order to stop the industrial murder of the European Jews at the hands of the Nazis and helping to end the war so that thousands of American, British, Australian and Chinese military and civilians could be liberated from the unparalleled cruelty in Japanese prisoner of war camps, black Americans returned to the United States to sit in the back of buses, drink from "Colored Only" water fountains, be assaulted, lynched and murdered, to be denied the same veterans benefits given to their white counterparts such as employment, housing, education, medical care, etc. Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr. was BLINDED by South Carlina police officers while in uniform, just hours after being honorably discharged from the US Army!

These men's accomplishments were ignored by the military and America, their records of bravery suspiciously "lost". These AMERICANS were not honored for decades. After being rejected countless times, the members of the 761st Tank Battalion were finally recognized in 1978, eventually receiving 1 Medal of Honor, 296 Purple Hearts, 11 Silver Stars, and 69 Bronze Stars. In 1994, the THREE surviving members of the Navy ship USS Mason were awarded a letter of commendation for "meritorious service". The famous Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007 - given mostly to their widows or posthumously. The black Marines weren't recognized until 2012.

That said, this book - TWENTY-FOUR HOURS AND 58 MINUTES LONG - served the black Americans who fought and died in World War II both fairly and without undue bias. They were an integral component of the war effort and for anyone to disparage an author giving credit where it is long overdue smacks of the continued institutional racism that the U.S. is still guilty of.

I know that my review will receive more "Not Helpful" ratings than "Helpful" but I really don't care! I'm willing, once again, to stick my neck out to say what needs to be said. This is a great book about a major historical event. Black Americans were a part of that war and deserve to be included just like Hitler, Hirohito, and Patton. ALL three of those "men" were the worse racists ever but no one has a thing to say about the hundreds of accounts written about them!

If you want to learn more about our contributions in war, check out "Brothers In Arms", a fantastic book about the 761st written by NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabbar. You will be surprised to learn that baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, was a member of the 761st! Truth be told, there can NEVER be too much revealed about the bravery and heroism of the black members of American military ranks!

120 of 143 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Review of historical data

This was an excellent book! I was surprised to hear a story about one of my childhood friends father. I always wondered why he seemed so quiet and reserved when I knew him in the late 50's and 60's. Now I know. I highly recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A One Sided Story

The author calls this a story of WWII, yet he barely touches major plot points. He spends more time talking about a single Pacific Island battle than he does talking about the entire Eastern European front. This would have you believe that the battle of Kursk never happened and the taking of peleliu was as important as the battle of Stalingrad.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kingsley
  • Henely Brook, Australia
  • 02-11-18

The story of America in WW2

This is not the story of WW23. Its the story of the USA in WW2.

For a book that claims that it 'covers the entire war -- on land, at sea, and in the air' it pretty much ignores the first few years of the war. Anything before Pearl harbor is effectively a footnote and is breezed past with no detail. After Pearl Harbor it focuses exclusively on the USA.

For what it does it does really well. It's just it is extremely false advertising in it's description and scope.

Narration by Kramer is great though.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best W W 2 book I have ever read !

I loved the book it was very interesting and informative as well as put together very logistical

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dave Reed
  • 01-22-16

Title it: The American Story of World War II

Would you try another book written by Donald L. Miller and Henry Steele Commanger or narrated by Michael Kramer?

Yes

Would you ever listen to anything by Donald L. Miller and Henry Steele Commanger again?

yes

Any additional comments?

My father fought with RAF during WWII and I was looking forward to listening to a balanced account of that terrible conflict. From the early chapters this book was clearly going to be another title on how America won the war, helped occasionally by the allied forces. I dislike not finishing any book and persevered with this one until chapter 13 then gave up. Very disappointing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Magic Inc.
  • 01-17-16

massively miss-titled

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. Very misleading. I got this book to learn more about WWII as a whole. This was not what i got. I would recommend this book to all my American friends because that is who this book was written by and for.

What was most disappointing about Donald L. Miller and Henry Steele Commanger ’s story?

This book should have been titled AN AMERICANS OPINION OF HOW THE AMERICANS BEAT THE NAZIS AND THE JAPANESE. There was hardly any mention of the Allied forces unless is was to say something they didn't do or failed to achieve. Apparently it wasn't even a world war till the Americans joined. "They didn't want to make it worse"! That's want this guy said. Not by choice i might add. It wasn't until they got sucker punched at Pear Harbor that they gave a damn about this European scuffle. It WAS a World war and that is already pretty bad in my books. I could only listen to this book in small chunks because the shear disrespect given to the Allied forces. The RAF fire bombing of the German city of Dresden was an "horrific act of barbarism" but when the US air force burnt Tokyo's main housing districts to the ground just to kill the thousands strong workforce was "just war" oh and the two nukes they dropped was the best way to end the war to save American lives. Not quite sure the moral levels were quite set to an un bi-est level.

What about Michael Kramer’s performance did you like?

I can't hold anything against the Mr Kramer. He did a good job of reading the book.

Did The Story of World War II inspire you to do anything?

I inspired me to find another way to learn about the second world war from an un bi-est source.

Any additional comments?

If your an American then grab your finest red, white and blue and prepare to march down the street waving the flag while whistling Dixie. If your are British, European, or even from any other country that was involved in the second world war then prepare yourselves for a tale how the Americans saved the world.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • gary
  • 06-07-15

Great piece of historical/factual story telling..

I was looking for a book that would give me all the factual information, key points and high lights of WWII and this book really did not disappoint, in fact it gave me more. I loved how the listener was given the information from the first hand perspective as service men gave their account of their personal experiences. Long listening time (over 24 hours) but well other the time.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Terry
  • 02-09-17

Best Audible Book I've Listened To!

Where does The Story of World War II rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the best audible book I've listened to!

So well written and so well narrated, I can unreservedly recommend.

(BTW first review I've written having felt compelled to do so given the high quality of this audio book.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-01-17

Thank you for these accounts, thank you

Thank you for all the accounts collected in this book and thank you for bring it onto Audible. For one it's a 26hours of intense listening experience, also I feel my WW2 knowledge has been improved so much after finishing this book. It's really helpful to be able to see things on an different angle during the war. This book had so many forgotten stories of WW2 which should have been taught to us in school. Even by listening to it made me wet my eyes many times. Now it would be hard for me to find a similar book for my next read......

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen McQueen
  • 02-23-17

Gripping

One thing comes round while listening to this book
'Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). '