In the summer of 1914, most of Europe plunged into a war so catastrophic that it unhinged the continent's politics and beliefs in a way that took generations to recover from.
The disaster terrified its survivors, shocked that a civilization that had blandly assumed itself to be a model for the rest of the world had collapsed into a chaotic savagery beyond any comparison.
In 1939, Europeans would initiate a second conflict that managed to be even worse - a war in which the killing of civilians was central and which culminated in the Holocaust.
To Hell and Back tells this story with humanity, flair and originality. Kershaw gives a compelling narrative of events, but he also wrestles with the most difficult issues that the events raise - with what it meant for the Europeans who initiated and lived through such fearful times - and what this means for us.
©2015 Ian Kershaw (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
like the classics, non-fiction and big biographies
A strong and compelling narrative marking the start and finish to the two world wars of the 20th century. It is hard to belief that a great civilisation like Europe would in the space of 20 years embark on two of the the most destructive events in the first half of a century. Told with precision, facts and an erudite compilation - to hell and back is easily one of the best books I have listened to on audible to date!
Can't wait for volume 2
A superbly crafted overview of the European journey. As you might gauge a maps usefulness by its accuracy of your locality I found Kershaws balanced view of Ireland in the story a good indicator of his overall ability to be fair and reasonable.
A possible criticism would be the length of time describing the World War itself . Initially i thought the book would use this seminal event as a foundation to explain where it's consequences took Europe but it became merely descriptive for a long while .
A small criticism in an otherwise excellent book.
Possibly not, simply because it is more difficult to refer backwards and forwards with an audiobook. Also, history books are made to dip into, which you can't really do with an audiobook.
No, it's a book to be digested.
This is a history book that covers the period in Europe between the beginning of the First World War to the aftermath of the second world war magnificently. it conveys a huge amount of information in an easy and interesting way. The narrator, too, was perfect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it was extremely informative and gave a really good background to what was happening around Europe throughout this period, rather than the more common English focus of many history books. It was the first time on finishing an audiobook I immediately started it again, as there was so much really good information in it, i wanted to reread it to help reinforce what I had learnt from reading it. Well worth a read.
This book had a lot of to live up to holding events from both World Wars, intervening years and a few years after WW2. There is a lot information packed in a relatively short space and Kershaw combats this by not regurgitating old hat facts and figures, instead debate and analysis take a more central role.
I found this a fascinating book which engaged and challenged the reader and I will very likely be going to a repeat listen soon to ensure that I have not missed anything!
An excellent and informative book. It shows that there are many parallels between what happened in Europe between the wars and the present day and provides a warning to all to be on our guard against what could happen.
Recently I’ve listened to books about the two World Wars that focus on the precipitating factors that started the conflicts, the military strategies, key battles and the effects mainly on the combatants. The present book touches less on these aspects and instead focusses on the social, political and economic consequences before during and after the wars with particular emphasis on the impact on civilians. Though both world wars had devastating repercussions for the people and countries of Europe, the author illustrates how the two wars differed greatly over where and upon whom the hardship and loss of life fell.
I was particularly interested in the authors accounts of the interwar years about which I knew little other than the great depression and the Wall Street crash. I hadn’t realized that there were several localised conflicts between the wars nor just how prevalent anti-semitism was in many countries before Nazism made it a central plank of their warped agenda. Though Nazism and Stalinism exhibited the extremes of cruelty and repression these regimes were not alone in brutality upon fellow human beings and surprisingly anti-semitism continued in many countries even after the extent of the Holocaust was revealed.
A most impressive and interesting book narrated with verve.
There are some great parts of this book and it gives a greater understanding of how ww1 was achieved. But the bit between the wars got really really tedious and repetitive without really putting a timeline to events. Because it's broken into subjects rather than years it jumps back and forth constantly from 1919 to 1938 and all in between.
Then when you get to ww2 there's a summary of battles but more numbers and political events rather than the war itself.
I just found I was board and stopped 3 hours short of completing it.
I loved this book. So well written and narrated. Superb way of presenting the material from different perspectives and trying to be as objective as possible. Great stuff.
"Superb on all fronts."
Superb writing, superb narration. Bravo. Very much looking forward to the next volume on postwar Europe...
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