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The Second World War

Narrated by: Sean Barrett
Length: 39 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: History, Second World War
5 out of 5 stars (1,407 ratings)

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Summary

A magisterial, single volume history of the greatest conflict the world has ever known, by our foremost military historian.

The Second World War began in August 1939 on the edge of Manchuria and ended there exactly six years later with the Soviet invasion of northern China. The war in Europe appeared completely divorced from the war in the Pacific and China, and yet events on opposite sides of the world had profound effects.

Using the most up to date scholarship and research, Beevor assembles the whole picture in a gripping narrative that extends from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific and from the snowbound steppe to the North African Desert.

Although filling the broadest canvas on a heroic scale, Beevor's The Second World War never loses sight of the fate of the ordinary soldiers and civilians whose lives were crushed by the titanic forces unleashed in this, the most terrible war in history.

Read by Sean Barrett.

©2012 Antony Beevor (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Concise, Interesting and Entertaining

Beevor interweaves the stuff of war history - major campaigns, sea battles, the outcome of strategic decisions and the personalities involved, with the often gory detail of human suffering on a grand scale and post-event analysis which poses some interesting what-if scenarios. Humour occasionally lightens the mood - with the British General Staff and Il Duce's army bearing the brunt. Barrett's narration is excellent and he copes well with German, Russian and Japanese names and ranks. An often enlightening read which should be on the school curriculum, and read by all, lest we forget.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Book on the Second World War!

I have always wanted to read a book which gives a clear and accurate view of the second world for. This is that book. This never glamourises the War and it plays down the propaganda and the myths. In fact on reading this book i feel that no nation comes out with credit - just some were more guilty then others.

The book delves deep into the detail and it pulls no punches. this isn't a boys adventure tale. Its War and the worst of it.

Its so fascinating to see what strange and evil alliances the War bought together and I have never ever realised that some of the German allies were so close to the Uk. How the British had to fight the French after their surrender to Germany in some instances and how there was several nations who changed sides during the War - not just Italy.

The book delves into the reasons and the start of the War and Britain does not fare well. The brits were slow to start and let several nations down with their lack of support. France - then a super army never delivered and surprisingly fell to the Germany quickly and Italy panders to Germany without engaging in the War. America has to be cajoled into the War and it costs the Brits substantially to get them to join. Facts I never knew.

Its a big book an at times hard to follow - well at the start at least. But its well worth reading on. i just couldn't wait to get back into the book.

This book will be seen as THE BOOK ON THE SECOND WORLD WAR - I am sure of that.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An excellent and gripping listen

Having greatly enjoyed this author's previous work, which dealt in fine detail with some of the great set piece battles of the Second World War, I was intrigued to see how he would cope with the broad canvas of the entire war. The book (both part one and two) proved to be an excellent and gripping listen. One of the great strengths of Mr Beevor's previous books was the fine detail showing the individual's experience of history. I was pleased that despite that despite the vast sweep of the subject matter, he still finds room for this fine detail.
Well read by Sean Barrett.

7 people found this helpful

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

Come for the story, stay for the voice

Overall: very good
It took a while to get used to the voice and I ended up appreciating each pronounciation -- especially the German and Russian bits.
On to part two...

6 people found this helpful

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

Inhumane Madness

Would you consider the audio edition of The Second World War, Part One: The Phoney War to Stalingrad to be better than the print version?

I would say about equal but it is good to have both as the written book can be easier used as reference especially to remind th unbelievable numbers of poor soles who died for no purpose or reason

What did you like best about this story?

The reminder of history and the madness of War

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The short story of the young Korean boy caught up in three wars

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Nor really possible for me

Any additional comments?

Excellent and outstanding

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Makes only a caricature of Churchill

This book is very well narrated. Kudos to Sean Barrett, whose reading of it is without flaw.

As for the content, be warned, it is, in places, gruesomely detailed, holding back none of the horrific detail of the events that happened. For anyone who listens with small children present, the material is not suitable for them, and neither is it suitable for anyone who would be disturbed by hearing graphic descriptions of some of the most heinous acts that men can inflict upon other men, women and children. No atrocity is taboo in this book, though it is written in about as matter of fact a way as it is possible to relay such terrible events.

However, when it comes to representations of the Allied political and military leaders, and particularly Sir Winston Churchill, the book approaches lampooning them. One almost gets the impression that Churchill was little better than a bumbling buffoon, and some of the more prominent allied Generals little better. Also, the author seems to think he knows how the individual leaders felt and thought about each other without giving actual documentary evidence for the assertions and assumptions he makes. I have no idea why the author felt he had to represent these leaders in this way, as he does not do this with the Nazi leaders, but for this reason alone, I would strongly recommend anyone who is interested in this subject take the descriptions of the interactions between the leaders with a large pinch of salt and read other historical accounts which give a much more objective and realistic account of the interaction between the allies.

All in all, if you can stomach some of the contents and listening to the denigration of men who put their hearts, souls and lives into serving their countries, the book does give a comprehensive account of the various conflicts that came together to become what we now call the Second World War.

2 people found this helpful

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

Just the right level of detail

This book provided a brilliantly informative outline of the first half of the WW2. It had enough detail in it to give a good picture of what went on, where and with who. But wasn't so detailed that it became boring and lost the plot (Churchill's autobiography did this).

If you are looking to start learning about WW2 then this is the book for you. I would also recommend the 'Rise and fall of the 3rd Reich'. It will be equally suitable for someone who knows a fair bit but wants to fill in the gaps.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Highly recommend.

One of the best, in both clarity and informative, (and no bias), books I, have ever read on WW2. Should be standard read for thinking people. Excellent!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heavy going.

Heavy going but well worth the effort - quite upsetting in parts - I tended to ration myself to no more than 2 chapters a day - reading something lighter in parallel. Reading this you understand why a lot of soldiers are reluctant to talk about the war.

1 person found this helpful

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

Very comprehensive background to all theatres of WW2

As the title suggests the book is all about WW2; the causes of; the actions in all theatres; the main characters responsible for those actions and some interesting anecdotes. The book also briefly talks about the main allied powers and there rivalries, some of which were very worrying indeed, and how they were preparing for a cold war after Germany's defeat.

I enjoyed this book immensely; although a little long it's incredibly detailed. The reader will get a full understanding of what happened during WW2.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • 26-07-12

Superb and enthralling - highly recommended.

Where does The Second World War, Part One: The Phoney War to Stalingrad rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Excellent Audible history - up there with the rude boys.

Have you listened to any of Sean Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The narrator is excellent. This is a long listen, so the narration is especially important and Sean Barrett's clarity, diction and expression are first class.

Any additional comments?

The mix of grand strategic overview mixed with the words of soldiers and civilians make this brilliantly written history extremely engrossing. I'm eagerly looking forward to Part 2.

2 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
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  • Paul Hannah
  • 25-11-16

This will become the seminal work on WWII

Truly global in its scope, any serious study of the war will necessarily include a careful reading of this work.

1 person 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
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  • sunny
  • 13-02-20

good

very well written , the author's concluding observations are worth remembering . it was a great book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-01-20

A compact, yet satisfying, history of the war

A great listen for Causal history enthusiasts. The writer did a fantastic job of cramming so much complicated history in this book, and he did it in an engaging and easy to follow manor.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Aske
  • 01-08-18

A good walkthrough of the war

Starting prewar and going through every major front to the postwar partition of Europe. Many forgotten bits are given a day in the spotlight. No individual bit gets the total work through and that's quite fine. This is an overview that let's one find bits of interest for further investigation.
The narrator has a comfortable voice for such a long listen and does a remarkable job of pronouncing the non-English codenames and places.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrei Ivanesei
  • 26-08-17

Good overview of the second world war

Mostly focused on Germany, US and USSR with very little time spent on the minor nations involved

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christian Jorgensen
  • 05-11-16

Stunning and comprehensive

If you could sum up The Second World War in three words, what would they be?

Stunning, elaborate and comprehensive.

What other book might you compare The Second World War to and why?

It is definitely the best overall history of the Second World War I have read so far. It might be supplemented with a more analytical look at the war by reading Norman Davies "Europe at War 1939-1945. If one wants to explore the different campaigns further Beevor wrote great books on Berlin, D-Day and Stalingrad as well.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Great Tragedy

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Halldor
  • 27-10-13

Difficult subject matter, great narration.

Any additional comments?

The narration by Sean Barrett is simply outstanding and sensitive to the subject matter at hand.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • F-M
  • 11-11-12

Expected more from Antony Beevor

Great run over the second world war. But nothing new for those who have studied it already. Best on the Western campaigns and less in-depth on the complex Japanese/Chinese conflict. Hoped that Antony Beevor with his detailed knowledge would have tried to maintain an analytical overview of the war. However, instead he leads us through battle to battle and campaign to campaign in his usual entertaining style with lots of specific stories to bring the scenes alive. Maybe I was expecting too much.

1 person 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
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  • Anand
  • 28-08-12

Not that great narration.

Would you try another book from Antony Beevor and/or Sean Barrett?

Lacks the tautness of Stalingrad and Crete.
Not enough personal episodes.
Narration was bad. Not awful, but just bad.

Would you be willing to try another book from Antony Beevor? Why or why not?

Good writer.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Sean Barrett?

Ray Porter

Could you see The Second World War, Part One: The Phoney War to Stalingrad being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Governator as Hitler, Tom Hanks as Churchill.