The War

An Intimate History: 1941-1945
Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (238 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Here is the audio companion to the magnificent seven-part PBS series.

The individuals featured in this audiobook are not historians or scholars. They are ordinary men and women who experienced - and helped to win - the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost.

Focusing on the citizens of four towns - Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Mobile, Alabama - The War follows more than 40 people from 1941 to 1945. Woven largely from their memories, the compelling, unflinching narrative unfolds month by bloody month, with the outcome always in doubt. The iconic events are here, but we also move among prisoners of war, defense workers, and schoolchildren, and families who struggled simply to stay together.

An intimate, profoundly affecting chronicle of the war that shaped our world, The War captures the American experience of World War II through the words and deeds, thoughts and feelings of those who made history on the battlefields and on the home front.

©2007 American Lives Film Project LLC (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What listeners say about The War

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, poor audiobook

I looked forward to this book because 1) of the quality of Ken Burns' work on past topics of American History and 2) I feel WWII, more than any other conflict the United States was a part of, tells us how we came to be what we are as a nation and what we became afterwards. The narrative did not disappoint. It was well written and frank, breaking many of the myths that we learned in school about how we just rose up and saved the world after we were attacked by Imperial Japan in 1941. I listened to the book before I saw the PBS series and you can see the close relationship between the two.

So, why only three stars? Well, one star was removed simply because this is an abridged version and it doesn't appear that an unabridged version exists. Call me rigid, but NO abridged version can substitute for reading the authors' full intent. Abridgment means compromise.

The second star was removed because, frankly, although Ken Burns may produce extraordinary documentaries, he is a TERRIBLE reader. Rather than reading in phrases and pausing after a thought is complete, he pauses after every two or three words, whether it makes sense to do so or not: "The boy (pause) went to (pause) the store." The entire reading is riddled with this kind of phraseology and it becomes annoying after awhile because it often forces you to go back and repeat what he has said in order make sense of it. Ugh!

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A must listen!

Without reservations, I recommend this book to all the citizens of this great nation. I sincerely believe that after completing this book you will have a new respect for the sacrifices our soldiers and their families made during the World War II.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Must Listen

This is one very good companion piece to the PBS documentary. Ken Burns (the film's co-director and this audiobook's primary narrator) is not an actor, and neither were any of the people whose words and stories he tells here. His narration is direct and quietly impassioned, which makes it all the more forceful.

Burns and co-director/producer Lynn Novick let it be known from the beginning that this story would not be about "..the traditional top-down heroes we are usually presented with - the generals, the presidents and statesmen, the prime ministers and field marshals who tend to recede from our understanding just as they ascend to the pantheon of Great Men. These are folks you might have had Thanksgiving with." To be sure, those seeking "exciting" battles or military tactics will not be disappointed since they are often described in detail, almost exclusively through first-hand accounts. Their stories are more often than not quite harrowing, related honestly, free of hubris and frequently with sincere regret. But it is also a celebration of the human spirit, what it can rally to, endure and ultimately overcome.

The generation these people came from was a far cry from what it is today and they are leaving us. It would be a terrible shame to forget what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents sacrificed in this war which claimed the lives of nearly 60 million people. Those who prefer the more traditional WWII works shouldn't shy away from this if they truly wish to gain a better understanding of what it was like not only to fight in this war but to remain behind. It's really quite an accomplishment that I can't recommend highly enough.

Do yourself a favor and experience something invaluable.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great book

If you want to save yourself the 20+ hours in front of the TV watching to PBS series by the same name, but still get the same horrific feelings of the detailed accounts of the second world war, this is the audible pick for you.
My thoughts about WWII and many of my outlooks on today's military have changed since this book. It should be mandatory in any US history class.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A thought-provoking perspective

Messers Ward and Burns have done it again: a thought-provoking perspective on a key part of American history.

Ken Burns delivers a superb performance telling the story, with Tom Hanks, Josh Lucas and Rebecca Holtz voicing some of the key characters portrayed in the book/series.

A must-listen for history buffs and anyone who wants to know what real people experienced as a result of decisions made by the generals and civilian leaders.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book, very informative

I've listened to this audio book for the 3rd time now. I highly recommend. The audio book description has this is an abridged audio. I am not sure if this was an actual book, but this was a 5 part mini series on PBS and this boom is adapted from that. So this is not an abridged book version but an abridged from a 5 part documentary. So if you tend to stay away from abridged books, don't worry.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This History Should Neve Be Forgotten

This should be required reading in all our public schools. This is a testament to how Nations of PEOPLE came together to fight, to sacrifice, and for millions, to die for the cause of a Freedom that most millennials take for granted.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

the war

I loved this more than I thought I would! I highly recommend it! if you love history, you will enjoy it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great overview

a bit hard to follow aurally but still good. jumps around a bit. lots of hood color. not in depth but great deal for the times.

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

Stunning

The soldier bears the burden of carrying out the orders. Their stories tell of the grim reality of the day to day war which is far different than the highlights in the history books. The staggering casualties which are statistics to us now were our brothers and sons. Decisions were made by all sides knowing that they were throwing lives at strategic objectives. Interesting to hear from the soldiers’ point of view.