'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)
"An Outstanding Piece of Work"
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.
"Lively and interesting"
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.
"The storm of War"
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!
"Superb - and featuring a 'Cast of Thousands'."
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 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.
"A fine overview"
Andrew Roberts is an effective writer of popular history. The Storm of War does not disappoint. The endless profusion of books about WWII would seem to challenge the subtitle of a 'new history.' What can a writer, even one with talent, find that is new to say about a conflict over which so many words have been spilt? The answer is not much. But Roberts presents his material well. The portrayal of the Holocaust is necessarily horrifying and effectively linked with the knowledge of the crimes displayed by senior officers of the Wehrmacht in POW camps whose conversations were covertly recorded by their British captors. None were innocent despite the popular prejudice that the SS alone were the real villains. The controversy of the Allied bomber offensive against occupied Europe is presented in a clear and balanced fashion despite its conventional conclusion. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a general overview of WWII. I have only two quibbles: 1. The sources are not always given, but this is a flaw of the medium rather than the book: you can't have footnotes in an audiobook and; 2. The voices. Mr Rodska is a fine reader but he insists on enlivening the quotes with special accents. It is like listening to an episode of 'Allo Allo' (google it). The 'voices' came very close to making me give up this audio book. It may have been my horrified fascination as to whether Rodska would lapse into a Jackie Chan or Inspector Closeau's Cato accent for the Far East battles which kept me listening. If he did I repressed the memory. Please no more accents. You're not bringing the material alive. You're killing me. Thus 3 stars only.
"A Storming Book"
Andrew Roberts has written a brilliant history of the second world war. For someone like me who has an interest in the history of the second world war but does not have indepth knowledge this is great. However if you are looking for a history that goes indepth into one area or another of the war then this is not for you. Christian Rodska's narration is really good even if once or twice his "impersinations" of some of the leading figures in the war does make you chuckle. A great book and a great narration.
"Good pace and balance but..."
I am only giving this 4 stars because of the narration and what seems like the over reliance on other recent historians interpretations of events.
I have listened to Christian Rodska on many audio books, have thoroughly enjoyed his narrations in the past but I don't feel he has the right touch for this subject. I initially found his vocalisations of Churchill et al (including the faux German/Russian accents) a bit irritating, but after a while they didn't matter quite so much.
Overall, however, I would recommend this as a good balanced view of the whole war - bringing in the Pacific conflict and not just concentrating on Europe.
My only concern, mentioned above, is the regular quoting of other historians work - how do I know how relevant or accurate their views are if I am only receiving a sound bite?
This has introduced me to Max Hastings work, however, which I will be listening to next - thank you Andrew Roberts.
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