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The Order of the Day

Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
Length: 2 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: History, World
5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 Prix Goncourt

Éric Vuillard’s gripping novel The Order of the Day tells the story of the pivotal meetings which took between the European powers in the run up to World War Two. What emerges is a fascinating and incredibly moving account of failed diplomacy, broken relationships and the catastrophic momentum which led to conflict.

The titans of German industry - set to prosper under the Nazi government - gather to lend their support to Adolf Hitler. The Austrian Chancellor realises too late that he has wandered into a trap as Hitler delivers the ultimatum that will lay the groundwork for Germany’s annexation of Austria. Winston Churchill joins Neville Chamberlain for a farewell luncheon held in honour of Joachim von Ribbentrop: German Ambassador to England, soon to be Foreign Minister in the Nazi government, and future defendant at the Nuremberg trials.

We know that these meetings took place, but what was the mood in the room? What words were exchanged? What egos that were in play? Vuillard makes it impossible to ignore the fact that the world was brought to the brink of war because of the actions of, and decisions made by, those in power. The sense of failure and tragedy is cumulative: there was nothing inevitable about these disastrous events.

©2019 Eric Vuillard and Mark Polizzotti (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

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  • Adam
  • 05-29-19

Packs a mighty punch; history at its finest

This is a fictional; recreation of a series of meetings that took place in the run up to World War Two. The style is immediate, dramatic, and poetic. It grips through the power of its descriptive prose, the laser attention to detail, and the emotional power of the situations of those involved. It also speaks with an incredible moral authority.
The meetings include German captains of Industry representing Krupp, Dailmer and more awaiting a meeting with Hermann Goering and then Hitler. The agenda is clear; the National Socialists need their votes and support. What the National Socialists can deliver makes sound business sense to them.
Then, the Austrian Chancellor is called into a meeting with Hitler and others, ostensibly skiing will be on the agenda, and so he goes equipped in skiing gear. With mounting dread, he realises Winter sports are not the real reason he has been called; he is going to put under bullying pressure to surrender his county. Which he does.
The action then moves to the Ribbentrops being entertained by the Churchills and the Chamberlains when the news of the above breaks. The RIbbentrops manipulate the situation by milking diplomatic niceties and English politeness to delay the English response as much as possible.
And the German army rolls into Austria, but gets snarled into a farcical traffic jam from Hell as some of their tanks break down.
And Austrians begin to kill themselves in astonishing numbers as they become aware of what their country has surrendered into, and what evil its people are joyfully embracing.
The action leaps through the time continuum. We fast forward to the Nuremberg trials to show the ultimate end of the pomp; and power of some involved, and the elderly President of Krupp steelworks has a Hellish vision of the multitudes doomed to force labour and death in his factories. "Who are all these people?" he cries as shadows seem to reach out for him.
This is a wonderful book and its scenes will stay with me. A superior dramatic recreation of history that has powerful and timely echoes for the present on the manipulation of truth by sociopathic and evil powers and the cost of a complicit surrender and silence. NEVER AGAIN.
Audiobook narration by Leighton Pugh is an ideal match to the content. He reads with an urgency and clarity that des this work justice. He wel conveys the macabre humour, the sickening ironies and stupidities, of much that the book describes.