• The Last Battle

  • Victory, Defeat, and the End of World War I
  • By: Peter Hart
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Author of The Great War, as well as celebrated accounts of the battles of the Somme, Passchendaele, Jutland, and Gallipoli, historian Peter Hart now turns to World War One's final months. 

Much has been made of - and written about - August 1914. There has been comparatively little focus on August 1918 and the lead-up to November. Because of the fixation on the Great War's opening moves and the great battles that followed over the course of the next four years, the endgame seems to come as a stunning anticlimax. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns simply fell silent.  

The Last Battle definitively corrects this misperception. As Hart shows, a number of factors precipitated the Armistice. 

After four years of bloodshed, Germany was nearly bankrupt, and there was a growing rift between the military High Command and political leadership. But it also remained a determined combatant, and France and Great Britain had equally been stretched to their limits; Russia had abandoned the conflict in the late winter of 1918. 

However complex the causes of Germany's ultimate defeat, Allied success on the Western Front, as Hart reveals, tipped the scales - the triumphs at the Fifth Battle of Ypres, the Sambre, the Selle, and the Meuse-Argonne, where American forces made arguably their greatest contribution. The offensives cracked the Hindenburg Line and wore down the German resistance, precipitating collapse.  

Final victory came at great human cost and involved the combined efforts of millions of men. Using the testimony of a range of participants, from the Doughboys, Tommies, German infantrymen, and French poilus who did the fighting, to those in command during those last days and weeks, Hart brings intimacy and sweep to the events that led to November 11, 1918.

©2018 Peter Hart (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Well written, with an exceptional collection of personal narratives, this book provides a fascinating look at the last four months of World War I." (New York Journal of Books)

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Is it over yet?

This is an extraordinary audiobook. 11/11/ at 11:00AM 1918 marks a time when veterans will be forever remembered by the armistice that ended World War 1. Men died just prior to this date, and continued well into the next year and more. The details by the author, Peter Hart leaves no images left unfinished as he walks you through the last battles to the end of the greatest war in the history of our world. You have the distinct feeling you are also in the trenches nearing the Hindenburg line on the western front as the allies of France, England and America close in on the defeated German armies. Four long years of fighting in the trenches and finally the big guns would cease firing. The one unique feature of this audiobook is the author added names and their divisions that are continually laid out as the story progresses. I found this very helpful, especially when it came to the names of the soldiers. It was fairly easy to distinguish the French, German, Austrian, Russian & Belgium names, but when it came to the English, Welsh, Australian and Americans, this helped me keep my perspective on who was involved at that moment on that specific battle. Peter Hart was a Canadian oral historian as well as an author of many books on WW1, and this book is his tribute to the BEF and all the soldiers who contributed to the final success in a Europe that was devastated from over four years of trench fighting. This was his latest book as he had worked since 1981 at the Imperial War Museum. I would ask you to listen carefully to his final words as Peter Hart passed in 2010. The reader Julian Elfer a British born NYC actor has over 50 titles to his credit. His natural British accent fits perfectly into this tribute. I have listened to the audiobook several times and each time I seem to come away with a new perspective, I would say a better perspective and appreciation for the entire narrative. Well done Gentlemen, well done!

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Excellent Summation of the End of WWI

Peter Hart delivers in spectacular style once again. He does every time. In "the Last Battle" he's able to tie up the rather complicated end to WWI, which ended in an Armistice. In 1918, the Americans joined the war. The vantage point is from the British soldier, but he very unbiasedly incorporates the ending of the war from the other vantage points. Thus, the reader gets ll different perspectives. It was hellish for all involved, but he so clearly explains the how the British soldier felt after 4 years of excruciating fighting, as opposed to the fresh American troops. Well done. Julian Elfer's narration is spectacular. He couldn't be better, and he's perfect for this work.