Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised)

Length: 7 hrs and 35 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (187 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Kenneth Branagh stars in BBC Radio 4's ambitious eight-hour dramatisation of Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman's epic masterpiece set during the Battle of Stalingrad. This powerful work, completed in 1960, charts the fate of both a nation and a family in the turmoil of war. Its comparison of Stalinism with Nazism was considered by Soviet authorities to be so dangerous that the KGB placed the manuscript under arrest and Grossman was informed his book would not be published for at least 200 years.

Having been a household name as one of Russia's most distinguished war correspondents, Grossman died aged 58 - the banning of his book hastening the end of his life - and he would never know the fate of his masterpiece: smuggled out of the Soviet Union on microfilm, to freedom and eventual publication in the West. Today it is increasingly hailed as the most important Russian novel of the 20th century.

©2011 AudioGO Ltd (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd

What listeners say about Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Painfully well done

I had a bit of a struggle following the thread of the story between the characters, however the narration skills of these amazing actors overcame this difficulty for the most part. As indicated in other reviews, the story is unrelentingly grim, realistic, and painful to listen to because of its adherence to accurate portrayal of individual experiences in World War II.

16 people found this helpful

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Splendid

Life & Fate is a masterful yet controversial piece by Vasili Grossman, one that focuses mostly on the human side of the War, specially from the perspective of soldiers, mothers, prisoners and political struggles between the Nazi and Communist parties.

the performance provided by this audiobook is masterful, although some people might be put off by the very British interpretation, I can say with certitude that the acting was great, emotional and overall amazing, much better than someone putting a bad Russian accent

The performance does suffer from the particularly difficult writing style of Grossman, where every chapter has many characters, with "Russian confusing names", and sometimes barely related with each other, I would recommend first reading the book and then listening to this recreation.

Excellent, I will definitely listen to it in the future again.

8 people found this helpful

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MAGNIFICENT!!

Would you consider the audio edition of Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised) to be better than the print version?

Life and Fate is a wonderful, rich, beautifully written story, but it's also a tough read. This dramatized version is much more accessible and superbly done.

Which character – as performed by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant – was your favorite?

This is a real ensemble with threads of dozens of characters' stories woven together.Viktor's doctor mother is based on the author's own mother who died in occupied Ukraine and even without knowing that, her farewell letter to her son and her lingering presence in his consciousness is very moving. For some reason in this version I quite like Zhenya's tank commander and the scenes with Tolya and his radio operator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wanted to, but didn't. Listening or reading this story leaves you with a lot to think about and a bit emotionally wrung out. I was glad when each chapter gave me a convenient place to stop.

6 people found this helpful

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captivating

Where does Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised) rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The similarity between Stalin's communism and Hitler's fascism is striking, although in the end they both deprive ordinary citizens of freedom and make them paranoid. The horrors of war to all sides is apparent here; and the fear of the people and bravery of the soldiers and arrogance of their leaders also shows itself in todays society and politics. As a Jew myself, I was tearful at times on both sides of the War, the cattle car, the "showers",(the Jew who only closes the door) the fear that neighbors would turn you in. The sound effects were so real. I felt I was there in the mud and stink of war.I don't know how the actors manage to create their characters in a room in front of a microphone with such conviction. They were amazing! The pain and disbelief in Krymov's voice as he was tortured without knowing why he was betrayed after being loyal to the Party all his life. Viktor's mother's sadness as she read the letter to him, so far away,before she died , etc. I felt it. I jumped when I heard the bombs; it so happened a plane flew overhead when I was listening to the recording. It made it more real. I recommend this book to someone who is familiar with Russian novels. There are always so many characters with long similar names. Sometimes difficult to keep track of when you're reading them, let alone listening. You might have to backtrack a few times to familiarize yourself with the voices, but it's definitely worth it.

What other book might you compare Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised) to and why?

I haven't heard any other dramatized books like this. Only Shakespearean Comedies. No comparison.I've read many books about the Concentration camps and Stalin in Russia, but never put together such as this book has been.

Which character – as performed by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant – was your favorite?

Krymov---David Tennant. I wish he had a Tardis to take him and the other actors out of there. His betrayal by his wife and Party was so devastating. His entire life was destroyed by lies.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The extremes of the political scale will lead to the same result. Persecution. Denial of Rights. War. Hate. Distrust Communism and Fascism supposed opposites, both granted power and wealth to the leaders. Stalin and Hitler. The same. Millions imprisoned and dead. Soldiers are fed hate and false ideals. They fight, die and kill for them. Citizens are stuck in the middle; Though they are also fed the diet of hate and fear of the "enemy" they're homeless, starving, being rounded up,raped, beaten and tortured, dying. The same on both side of the struggle. Suffering the same fate. The circle never ends even today. How many wars are there at this moment in the world?

Any additional comments?

I think this would be a great movie, with the same actors and I hope it's in the works. I will read the book on Kindle next. I know there is a lot more to this story.

9 people found this helpful

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Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate

This was a most disappointing dramatization of one of the major Russian novels of the 20th century. Vasily Grossman's book was based on his experiences as a Jewish war correspondent on the Eastern Front, notably at Stalingrad, and also the first to report to the press on a Nazi death camp, Treblinka. It is a kind of War and Peace for the Soviet era. The main problem with the dramatization is that it is done in very British voices, which rather clashes with the Russian setting of the story. In many cases, the translator used British slang terms ("Give over!" for example) that may have been more or less correct but sounded horribly out of place. In addition, some local British dialects were used to represent the ordinary Russian soldiers (as opposed to the educated elite family who were the protagonists), and it was very difficult at times to understand what exactly they were saying. Another problem was simply that there were so many characters, and the situation so complex that it was hard to follow the story line altogether. Now I don't know if I want to try to get the book from the library or just forget it. That would be a pity, for the book--banned by the Soviet government and smuggled out of Russia to be published in the West--gives a terrifying portrait not only of what the Soviets suffered during the German occupation and the war, but also of the political terror of the Stalin regime. It's a book that needs to be widely known, but this dramatization is not the vehicle for it.

20 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Great radio adaptation of an equally great story A representation of the difficulty’s of its time

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful Dramatization of a Great Story

I can see why the novel and author was suppressed for so long. Here in America particularly with our own drift toward socialism we forget that the three great rival authoritarian systems of the 20th century were all socialist - the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic and the National Socialists. Socialism is utopian and strongly millennial without the restraints of benovolent self interest or reasonable debate. When things do not go as they envision they move to repression because heaven is not supposed to fail and they reflexively limit debate, intellectual exchange of ideas and gravitate toward centralized rule. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in the comparison made between Hitler and Stalin and their terrifying commonality. Thank you for making this tramatazation of this soul searing novel.

2 people found this helpful

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disappointing

I was quite surprised at how distractingthe English accent and characterizations were in a Russian story. Do not think this production will give you any sense of the original work it is based on. It does not.

2 people found this helpful

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A great drama from a great book.

What did you love best about Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised)?

The narration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Life and Fate: The Complete Series (Dramatised)?

Nikolay being arrested by the NKVD.

What does Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent narration from them, and others in the cast.

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

No extreme reaction, I was impressed witht he sound desing and acting.

Any additional comments?

None.

2 people found this helpful

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Hoping for a recording of the full book

I listened to the audiobook of Stalingrad and I think it is one of the greatest books of the 20th century. (I wrote a review on Audible). I bought this only because there is no audiobook of Life and Fate, and right now reading the book would seem like a big undertaking. So I figured I’ll try this. At the time it was broadcast, it was well-received and did motivate people to buy the book (though we don’t know how many actually finished it - it is long). But though I imagine this radio program touched on the main plot points, kind of a distillation of the story, it in no way gave me the sense of the greatness that I imagine is in the book, if Stalingrad is anything to judge by. Aside from the details, the depictions of scenes and characters, there is the beautiful evocative prose. Please make an unabridged audiobook!

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  • Rachel
  • 04-02-15

Wonderful writing and superb cast

Wonderful writing and superb cast.
A true and frightening account of a terrible chapter in Russian history brought to life in an expertly written and brilliantly performed radio drama.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Pete
  • 07-31-15

super cast

you will struggle to find a more poignant beautiful production. the cast is like a who's who of British theatre.. long live BBC drama

9 people found this helpful

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  • Grumpy_Bastard
  • 10-15-19

Far too much taken out of the original

This dramatised version is far too short to convey the full story, characters and narrative necessary. So many cuts that it, in parts, becomes almost indecipherable. I wouldn’t recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-31-19

Mixed story

Struggled to follow as story moved about. Also available for free on BBC Radio 4 website.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • C. D. Turner
  • 06-20-19

Dire

Dreadful BBC production. Kenneth Branagh should have been clue. No attempt to capture the spirt of the book, or the Russian language, lazy production.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mike L
  • 08-23-20

brilliant acting and dramatisation

Fabulous acting and dramatisation of this superb war and peace type novel overlaid with profound insights into the Stalinist regime

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-13-20

Take an epic book and remove all the good bits

Grossman’s life observations are what made the original book so timeless. All have been removed by dramatising the book. Like taking the cheese out of a cheeseburger.

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  • stephen
  • 08-12-20

One of the best.

One of the greatest books brought to life in a stunning way. Superb performances all round.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Phil Dudman
  • 07-25-20

A powerful portrayal of the price of ideology

A cleverly dramatised set of tales documenting the hideous similarities of two opposing ideologies and the price paid by people caught between them.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Darby
  • 04-20-20

Life Changing

A beautifully crafted story that shattered my view of humanity but left me with hope