'Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Herr Hitler, of Corporal Hitler... Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in his actions.'
-Winston Churchill (2 August 1944, in the wake of the complete destruction of the German Army Group Centre in Belorussia)
Here is one of the best-selling history titles of 2009. Examining the Second World War on every front, Andrew Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, Hitler's Axis might even have won.
Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once he was safely beyond defending himself? In researching this uniquely vivid history of the Second World War, Roberts has walked many of the key battlefield and wartime sites of Russia, France, Italy, Germany, and the Far East.
The book is full of illuminating sidelights on the principle actors that bring their characters and the ways in which they reached decisions into fresh focus.
Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders was one of the most acclaimed, best-selling history books of 2008. His previous books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction, and Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership (2003), which coincided with a four-part BBC2 history series. He is one of Britain's most prominent journalists and broadcasters.
©2009 Andrew Roberts (P)2010 Audible
"His mastery of the huge variety of subjects is truly impressive and his ability to marshal these subjects into a single compelling narrative stunning." (Keith Lowe, Daily Telegraph)
"He presents stylish penmanship, gritty research and lucid reasoning, coupled with poignant and haunting detours into private lives ruined and shortened." (The Economist)
How refreshing to find a book, and especially a historical one, that does not deal in terms of Good vs Evil, Right vs Wrong, but instead sets out the known facts about key stages of the war and gathers viewpoints from all parties involved, dirty laundry included. (The ongoing cat-fights between Monty and Patton being an example)
I'm only half-way through this astounding book but am completely enthralled by it. I've read a number of books on WWII but none have such remarkable insight or depth, filled with little snippets of information that, I'm sure, only became available in much later years.
At over 20 hours listening, this is a book you will need to listen to more than once to ensure you've caught all the information it contains. The thing is, you are going to want to.
A thoroughly engaging book.
The writing style achieves that rare quality in non-fiction of imparting factual information while keeping the listener entertained. A part of this success is down to the reader who does a sterling job, including a decent stab at mimicking the main protagonists without it descending in to out and out parody.
Overall 5/5 stars.
Born in Africa, worked for many years in the Far East and now living - and still working - in Western Australia.
Andrew Roberts has somehow managed to show the whole picture whilst not losing sight of all the little things that made-up this momentous time. I would strongly recommend his book to anyone with even a passing interest in WW2. By drawing on the works of a rich variety of sources and with the benefit of hindsight and obviously substantial and meticulous research, plus the ability to categorise varied elements into a logical format, he presents an entirely new slant on so many aspects of the war. Not long into my listening I bought the hardcopy as a companion volume. However, what really makes this audiobook a true standout is the reading by Christian Rodska, interspersed with the 'voices' of Hitler, Churchill, Patton, Monty, and just about everybody else from the SS Corporal to the British Colonel, the GI, the Diplomat, the Soldier, Sailor and Airman and the ordinary 'man in the street' which bring to this work a cast of thousands. This is what audiobooks are about. I am an avid listener of audiobooks over many years and this is one of the best examples of the 'craft' that I have been pleased to come across. Encore..!
This is a very good one volume history of WW2. The author strikes a nicely judged mixture of grand strategy and detail, and whilst it focuses far more on the European theatre than the war against Japan, the picuture he presents is pretty well balanced. He writes in a lively and striaghtforward style, and in the audiobook, he is very well served by Christian Rodska's narration - well paced, good variation in tone and he brings the quotes which are spread throughout the book nicely to life - it's a long book, but doesn't seem so. A minor problem is that, although the narrator does his best, some of the statistics which the author uses to support his arguments are difficult to absorb - you have to concentrate!
The final chapter on conclusions indulges in a the kind of what-iffery military historians are somewhat prone to but it is nonetheless quite interesting if a bit muddled in places.
I'm very happy to recommend this book with one caveat which has nothing to do with the book itself. Unless you are familiar with the geography and the history to some extent, you will find yourself wanting to look at a map! I got the book out of the library as well which solved the problem for me - and the maps are very good.
Although many books have been written about the second world war, this is a recent one written with the insight of new information from Bletchley Park, which guided many of the decisions of the Allies.
It also gives a view of the different theatres of the war and not just the western european events.
I wouldn't say that I am widely read on the subject but there were many battles and outcomes that I now have a new perspective on.
A good overview with enough in depth analysis to keep the armchair historian interested.
A fully comprehensive and gripping account of the calamity in its entirity. The brutality led me to switch off at times. Completely anglocentric and one would have to wonder at the lowest ever death toll to the Dresden firestorm raid. Macnamara, (Curtis Lemays Speer)completely disagrees with the books conclusions regrding the burning, boiling and baking of japanese civilians...and he was directly responsible!. Nevertheless a massive, sprawling finely detailed canvass of a book...loved it!
This is the most entertaining account of the second world war I have read or heard. It contains enough information and analysis to interest armchair generals, but is entertainingly written, well structured and presents balanced arguments that will keep those without specialist interest hooked. Christian Rodska's narration is excellent, 'doing all the voices' and keeps the story moving at pace. In its unabridged form it also presents fantasic value, delivering hours of listening pleasure. In conclusion I can't recommend it enough.
This is an absolutely supurb book. I've read a great many books on WWII and I think this would be one of the best, if not 'the' best I've read. Not just historical facts rolled out one after another; this book is written in a thoroughly interesting and engaging manner. The narator is also absolutely brilliant.
One of the finest books I've read on the subject. It has a depth of detail without being dull. The audio reading is excellent. Could not recommend this more highly.
Narration, writting and presentation of the facts of this the most brutal of all wars has been riveting. It is, by its very nature, a wide ranging work as are its conclusions. It cannot be praised too highly. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to get a grip on the period.
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