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The Fall of Berlin 1945 [Paperback]

Antony Beevor
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 29 2003
Acclaimed for his vivid re-creations of some of the twentieth century's most significant battles, Antony Beevor is one of the best known and respected military historians writing today. He now offers readers a gripping, street-level portrait of the harrowing days of January 1945 in Berlin when the vengeful Red Army and beleaguered Nazi forces clashed for a final time. The result was the most gruesome display of brutality in the war, with tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rapes, pillage, and destruction. Hundreds of thousands of German civilians froze to death or were massacred because Nazi officials had forbidden their evacuation. Hitler, half crazed in his bunker, issued wild orders while Stalin was prepared to risk any number of his men to seize the city before the other Allies could get there.

Making full use of newly disclosed material from former Soviet files as well as from German, American, British, French, and Swedish archives, Beevor has reconstructed the different experiences of those millions caught up in the death throes of the Third Reich. The Fall of Berlin 1945 depicts not only the brutality and desperation of a city under siege but also rare moments of extreme humanity and heroism. This account also contains new revelations about the motives behind Stalin's hurried assault. Sure to appeal to all readers interested in military history and the Second World War, The Fall of Berlin 1945 promises to be the definitive treatment of the subject for years to come.

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The Fall of Berlin 1945 + Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943 + D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
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Military history, even at its best, can be a cold art. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that wars involve individuals, each with their own hopes, fears and desires. Berlin: the Downfall, 1945, is Antony Beevor's account of the bloody Götterdämmerung that brought the Second World War in Europe to an end, and in which he has fused the large and the small scale effects of war. Beevor paints the broad picture of Marshals Zhukov and Konev, competing for glory and Stalin's attention, as they race their armies towards Berlin. He gives the reader a gripping account of the brutal street-by-street fighting in the German capital and provides an unforgettable portrait of the last, insane days of Hitler and his entourage in the bunker.

His attention to emotional detail is what made his previous book Stalingrad such a magnificent work, combining a sweeping hisorical narrative with a remarkable sensitivity to human drama. Yet he also highlights the small details of ordinary people caught in the nightmare of history--the sick children evacuated at the last minute from a Potsdam hospital; the Soviet soldiers shaving themselves for the first time in weeks so that they would make appropriately presentable conquerors; and the Nazi Youth teenagers peddling their bikes in despairing, last-ditch attacks against the Red Army's tanks.

The story Beevor tells is an almost unremittingly terrible one--one of death, rape, hunger and human misery--but he tells it with both an epic sweep and an alertness to individuality. The result is a masterpiece of narrative history that is as powerful as Stalingrad. --Nick Rennison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Covering the months from January to May in 1945, as Soviet and other Allied troops advanced to Berlin, freelance British historian Beevor (Stalingrad) opts for direct narrative with overheard quotes from the main players, making the reader an eavesdropper to Hitler and Stalin's obiter dicta. Brisk and judgmental, the narrative is studded with short sentences and summary judgments: about Nazi minister Hermann Goring, we are told that his "vanity was as ludicrous as his irresponsibility" and he looked more like " `a cheerful market woman' than a Marshal of the Reich." During the rubble-strewn city's Christmas of 1944, "the quip of that festive season was: `be practical: give a coffin.' " The book is based on material from former Soviet files as well as from German, American, British, French and Swedish archives, but the somewhat limited bibliography is disappointing, and many of the usual sources are quoted, such as Hitler's personal secretary, who took dictation in the bunker to the end. Her expectation that Hitler would suddenly produce "a profound explanation" of the war's "great purpose" says as much about German self-delusion of the time as about Hitler, but here and elsewhere, Beevor simply quotes her flatly and fails to connect the dots. However, given the scope of this book the 1945 advance on Berlin is thought to be the largest battle in history, with two and a half million Soviet troops attacking one million Germans the summary approach is inevitable.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Berliners, gaunt from short rations and stress, had little to celebrate at Christmas in 1944. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
As the author notes in the opening pages, this volume is best read in conjunction with his earlier work "Stalingrad", and perhaps even his earlier work on the Spanish Civil War. These three volumes trace the conflict between opposing totalitarian regimes. Spain allowed Hitler and Stalin to fight a proxy war in Spain, while Barbarossa brought the conflict very much into the open. Thus "The Fall of Berlin" documents the culmination of a struggle that was as much ideological as military.
The books opens in late 1944 just as Hitler's Ardennes offensive was winding down and assumes the reader has a reasonable understanding of the military and political situation at the time: the crumbling Nazi empire and internecine politics of the regime, the uneasy tension between the Allies and the enormous scale forces marshalled by the combatants. Without this prior knowledge it may take the reader a few chapters to familiarise themselves with the litany of names, dates and locations. However it is here the author excels in describing the complexity of the situation and making it accessible to the general reader. The authors prose is clear and understandable: I've read this text twice and have been gripped on both occasions.
Perhaps Anthony Beevor's greatest achievement is his rendering of the human costs of the conflict. One not only feels pity for German civilians who bore the burnt of the Soviet rage in East Prussia, but also for the ordinary Russian soldiers whose expectations that "things would be different after the war" where manipulated by Stalin.
Without the Soviet victories in such decisive battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk the Anglo-American forces would have had a much harder time of it. Hitler may not have been beaten. However the author doesn't sugar coat what the Soviets did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Defeating the Red Army - What Hitler Failed to Do June 21 2002
By zar1969
Mr. Beevor's latest book describes the events around the collapse of the German Nazism and the capture of Berlin. The subject is obviously very complex, because world history is yet to find a comfortable vantage point on the crimes against humanity, the number of casualties, and the ethical distortions, which WWII spurred around the globe.
It seems like the author sets out to compile an "honest" narrative - a history, which is not written by the victors. To achieve this, Mr. Beevor diligently describes hundreds of cases of looting, insubordination, and rape during the Russian advance. In fact, it is hard to imagine how the Red Army managed to preserve sufficient combative capabilities with all the acts of revenge that Mr. Beevor assigns to its members.
While I do not doubt the accuracy of the incidents described in this study, I find the author's attempt to be objective quite naïve. It is impossible to analyze fully the conclusion of WWII in Europe on 431 pages only. You have to choose the focus of the study. It seems that Mr. Beevor's focus has been to deconstruct the heroic image of the Russian conquest of northern and eastern Germany. In this, he has succeeded. As to the choice of the title of this book - I think that the historical importance of the fall of Berlin transcends the acts of vandalism committed by the armies of one of the Allies. Therefore, I would like to suggest an alternative title for this book: The Fall of the Red Army by Anthony Beevor in 2002. It seems that in this case particularly the pen is mightier than the sword...
As to his analysis of the German military and political command, the author presents a much more standard thesis, which blames the military failures on the poor leadership of Hitler and his closest political comrades.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid work on a very complex topic June 17 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First rate historical research by a major historian especially for recent material in Soviet archives. Totally worth reading! Highly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Fall of Berlin, and the fall of some myths Nov. 23 2002
This is an excellent and enlightening look about what happened on the Eastern Front of World War II. Being an American, I'm often exposed to the Western slant about what happened in the war, so this was quite refreshing. I have a natural inclination to question whatever I read - I don't just automatically believe anything. But, from what I have read, and I've done a fair amount of reading on the European theater, this book seems to confirm and expand on what is well documented - the German butchers' behavior was atrocious and indefensible when they invaded in the east (and wherever they conquered peoples and nations), and the Red Army doled out severe retribution when they conquered German territory. Two wrongs don't make a right, but war is ugly, brutal and deadly, and one can at least understand WITHOUT CONDONING the Red Army's actions. Most Red Army soldiers had lost comrades and were eager to settle the score.
Beevor's writing gets bogged down at times, but in the middle of the book, when one can almost see the Red Army's brutal advance, the pace, quality and descriptions of the fighting gain fine form. The reader can almost sense the death, smell, brutality and desperation that defined Berlin in the spring of 1945. Beevor doesn't describe Berlin, he transports the reader there.
This is a fine addition to any World War II library, and a great tome that describes the bitter closing days of the war in Europe.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and Reread
This apocalyptic event has been covered many times and we will see many more efforts. I am confident that Beevor's will be cited among the very best. Read more
Published on April 8 2010 by Jeffrey Swystun
5.0 out of 5 stars Familar Subject, but Superior Book
Beevor is one of the best historians of his time. He strikes a nice balance between the staff officer's view of things on a map and vivid first person accounts. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2010 by Kirk R. Jones
2.0 out of 5 stars I liked it better when Ryan wrote it
This book adds nothing to what Cornelius Ryan wrote in 1966. In fact, Ryan's book is vastly superior since Beevor had no first-hand access to participants. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Michael Licari
3.0 out of 5 stars More a grand narrative than a compendium of testimony
I wanted to find out how an army and a nation can keep fighting when all's lost, and this book gave the facts. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by John L Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Even Better than Stalingrad.
It's one ugly story indeed but it is one which must be told. January of 1945 brought a firestorm of mythic proportions onto the German Reich and effectively turned the dreams of... Read more
Published on June 12 2004 by Bernard Chapin
4.0 out of 5 stars sins of the totalitarians
Both Germans and Russians are colored darkly in "The Fall of Berlin. It would be hard to pick which is worse: the insane, die-hard Hitler fanatics or the brutal, deceitful... Read more
Published on May 31 2004 by Smallchief
1.0 out of 5 stars Let the veterans speak
Before you mindlessly believe a journalist who is primarily out to make money, it is only fair that you let the Soviet veterans also have their say. Read more
Published on May 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars History well written and compelling
I would heartily recommend this book. It is good, well researched history well written. The author has a difficult task because although its not an academic history book there is... Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by Mr Peter D Johns
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb
This is a very detailed and accurate account of The final stages of the war on the Eastern Front. It is told on a very personal and small scale specific level, which makes it very... Read more
Published on April 21 2004 by The Guj
4.0 out of 5 stars Not very ground breaking but still highly engaging
This book breaks little ground, and is not therefore going to be valuable to scholars. It draws heavily on previous studies, even though this is seldom acknowlegeded. Read more
Published on April 9 2004 by Jo Thoenes
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