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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.
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.
This is a very interesting read, but it is primarily focused on the military history of the fall of Berlin. Read morePublished 29 days ago by R Helen
First rate historical research by a major historian especially for recent material in Soviet archives. Totally worth reading! Highly recommendedPublished 17 months ago by Michael Dorland
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 morePublished on April 8 2010 by Jeffrey Swystun
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 morePublished on Jan. 26 2010 by Kirk R. Jones
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 morePublished on July 1 2004 by Mike
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 morePublished on June 12 2004 by Bernard Chapin
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 morePublished on May 31 2004 by Smallchief
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 morePublished on May 11 2004