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Berlin: The Downfall, 1945 [Hardcover]

Antony Beevor
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 April 2002
The advance on Berlin - which was to be the largest battle in history - began at exactly 4am on 16 April, 1945. Along the Oder Neisse front, two and a half million Soviet troops attacked one million Germans. The panic induced in the German civilian population is easy to imagine. Hitler had sworn that Germany would never be invaded, yet now overwhelming Soviet armies were advancing on Berlin. The utterly deranged Hitler ensconced deep in his concrete bunker, could only scream at his military staff. Denouncing the cowardice of the Wehrmacht, he had become convinced that Germany's defeat proved that its people were not worthy of him - that they deserved to die. This book reconstitutes the experience of those millions caught up in the nightmare crescendo of the Third Reich's final defeat - a story encompassing the realities of those who suffered to the end from folly, cruelty and the exercise of naked power. The battle for Berlin is revealed as a terrifying example of fire and sword, pillage, mass rape, and murder.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (25 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670886955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670886951
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 5.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Antony Beevor was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst, where he studied under John Keegan. A regular officer with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write. He has published four novels, and ten books of non-fiction. His work has appeared in more than thirty foreign editions. His books include The Spanish Civil War; Inside the British Army; Crete -- The Battle and the Resistance, which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper). He has also contributed to several books including The British Army, Manpower and Society into the Twenty-First Century, edited by Hew Strachan and to Russia - War, Peace & Diplomacy in honour of the late John Erickson.
Stalingrad, first published in 1998, won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999. The British edition was a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback. Berlin - The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. It has been a No. 1 Bestseller in seven countries as well as Britain, and in the top five in another nine countries. The book received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award.
In May 2004, he published The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, which describes the experiences of the Chekhov and Knipper families from before the Russian revolution until after the Second World War. His Russian research assistant Dr Lyubov Vinogradova and he edited and translated the war time papers of the novelist Vasily Grossman, published in September 2005 as A Writer at War - Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945.
He has also published a completely revised edition of his 1982 history of the Spanish Civil War, with a great deal of new material from Spanish sources and foreign archives. This came out in Spain in September 2005 as La guerra civil española where it became the No.1 Bestseller and received the La Vanguardia prize for non-fiction. It appeared in English in spring, 2006, as The Battle for Spain - The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. It has been a top ten bestseller in eight countries.
D-Day - The Battle for Normandy, published in June 2009, has been a No 1 Bestseller in seven countries, including the UK and France, and in the top ten in another eight countries. It has received the Prix Henry Malherbe in France and the Duke of Westminster Medal from the Royal United Services Institute.
His most recent book, The Second World War, published in June 2012, is being translated into twenty-one languages. It has already been a No 1 bestseller in Britain and four other countries, and a bestseller in another four. Altogether, more than five million copies of his books have been sold.
Antony Beevor was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1997 and in 2008 was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana by the President of Estonia. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He was the 2002-2003 Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge. In 2003, he received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. In September 2003, he succeeded Philip Pullman as Chairman of the Society of Authors and handed over to Helen Dunmore in September, 2005. He has received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and the University of Bath. He was a judge of the British Academy Book Prize and the David Cohen Prize in 2004, and is a member of the Samuel Johnson Prize steering committee. He is married to the writer and biographer Artemis Cooper and they have a daughter Nella and a son Adam.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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

Review

Antony Beevor's remarkable Stalingrad won the Samuel Johnson prize in 1999, along with a slew of other awards. Berlin; The Downfall 1945 depicts the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known when Soviet soldiers reached the frontiers of the Reich in January 1945. It is an unforgettable story of those men, women and children who suffered from a naked exercise of power on a scale that is almost incomprehensible. Accompanied by a major national press campaign and a BBC series that is to air just after publication. Look for this one to do quite as well as its predecessor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal but gripping read 12 May 2002
By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had read Stalingrad and was not sure that Berlin could be as gripping a story - the result of the fighting was a forgone conclusion. But its not the description of the progress of the war that really makes this book. Its the individual stories that make this book a 'must read'
What I also did not realise was the reason why the last months of the war ended as they did - ferocious defense by the Germans in the East and rolling over in the West - and the ulterior motives behind the Allies behaviour. If you read Stalingrad in conjunction with Berlin you begin to see that the Russians felt almost justified in their actions. But its the last few pages that are the classic twist in the tail - I won't spoil it but the German Army attitude to the events of the war is stunning. If you think history is a dry affair then read this and get a fresh perspective.
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79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
By joalem
Format:Paperback
Antony Beevor showed in his excellent Stalingrad how to clearly and accurately portray the chaos and confusion of a vast and sprawling military engagement without losing sight of the individual experience and harrowing minutiae of enormous human tragedy. In this book, he again succeeds in portraying the staggering scale of the battle for Berlin, but also brings out the astonishing and shocking level of suffering that accompanied it.
Beevor successfully measures the human suffering against the "meat-grinder" mentality of the ideological clash of Stalinism and Nazism. He contrasts the pride and vanity of Hitler and the paranoid totalitarianism of Stalin, the meeting of which was guaranteed to result in terrible casualties as combatants, deluded and indoctrinated by continuous and insidious propaganda, fought desperately for every inch of ground.
Tales of gang rape and wanton destruction by the invading forces, particularly in East Prussia, hit heavy notes in the reading, whilst the knowledge of how deeply the Red Army operated under the prying and intolerant eyes of its Soviet masters is also clearly and compassionately portrayed; the dispassionate NKVD reports of summary execution and Gulag imprisonment of liberated Red Army prisoners for simply having surrendered fills one with anger, particularly as the Red Army had suffered over 9 million casualties by this time.
In his Stalingrad book, Beevor shifted his sympathies initially from the Russians gradually toward the Germans as the tide of battle shifted; in Berlin: The Downfall, Beevor's sympathies throughout remain in favour of the German civilians, and the German Army commanders who acted against the Nazi leadership.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book 25 May 2007
By HBH
Format:Paperback
Berlin by Antony Beevor is a wonderful book in the style of his work on Stalingrad. It mixes the personal with the bigger picture and provides a thrilling and very readable book on the final destruction of the Nazi regime.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author has written two books simultaneously. One is a dry military history, packed with details about units, bridge crossings, hardware etc. The other is an account of a massive, humanitarian catastrophe, brought vividly to life by the authoritative use of eyewitness accounts.

The first suffers from a lack of detailed maps and diagrams, which renders half the text virtually impenetrable, as endless accounts of tank units and bridgeheads trundle past without a context. The second is by far the most successful, carrying the whole. It offers insights into the psychology and culture of 20th century europe which are essential, yet previously overlooked, probably because of the 'difficult' nature of the story.
I would have liked to have been able to follow the military story of units fighting across europe on a usable map, and to have been able to decypher the individual accounts of tactics by reference to diagrams and graphics. The author could really have made a decision as to his audience, and published two, separate, companion volumes, each of which would have been much better.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Window On Berlin In 1945 13 May 2002
Format:Hardcover
This is a superb book and it was so readable and interesting that I finished it within three days of Amazon delivering it to my door. The battle for Berlin is often overlooked since it took place when there war was all but won and no western nations were involved. However like D-Day or Stalingrad it was an event of huge significance and much suffering. In his book Beevor manages to get the balance between military, political and human stories just right so interest is maintained throughout. Excellent!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic non-fiction 8 July 2002
Format:Hardcover
As soon as you start to read Berlin it becomes clear that Beevor has researched the subject material in immaculate depth. This book doesn't read like a normal book on the war in so far as it feels more like you are reading a fictional work. This feeling is mainly created by Beevor's use of tales from individual perspectives rather than reeling off a list of facts and statistics as so many other books do.
A superb read, even for those with no interest in the period under scrutiny, Some parts will truely shock you.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fall of Hitler's empire 17 Dec 2003
Format:Paperback
The Fall of Berlin 1945 is obviously about the last series of battles in World War II. It not only covers the final battle for the German capital, but it actually starts in January 1945. The Russians are sitting on the Vistula river, just outside Warsaw, and waiting to launch one of the final attacks that will finally collapse the Nazi regime. Beevor has done lots of research, and it shows. This is a completely compelling book. You do, however, have to have an interest in the subject and you should probably not be in a really bad mood when you read it. It is kind of a downer.
For the most part, Beevor concentrates on the Russian front as the Germans face off against the Soviet army. He does have a chapter or two about the other allies, but most of the time that he is talking about them, it is in relation to the Eastern Front and how some of the remaining Germans were trying to retreat to the American and British lines so that they could surrender and hopefully not get killed by the invading Soviet hordes. Beevor also details the Yalta conference and how Stalin completely hoodwinked Churchill and Roosevelt (Roosevelt himself was very ill at this time and certainly wasn't at his best) in regards to his intentions for Poland and for Berlin. Other than this, however, Beevor is completely devoted to action in Poland and in eastern Germany. This isn't surprising, as most of the action in this period of the war was centred here. Not to say there wasn't any fighting in the West, but once the Americans crossed the Rhine river, the Germans seemed more intent on making sure they didn't surrender to the Russians.
Beevor does a good job with the subject. He writes in an interesting manner that doesn't contain the dryness that is prevalent in some history texts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent book
Published 25 days ago by Adolf Van Steen
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
excellent in all respects
Published 26 days ago by chris dawes
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the End
As masterful an account as Beevor's classic 'Stalingrad', this substantial history recounts in meticulous detail the last phase of the doomed Third Reich. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sentinel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fantastic
Published 1 month ago by mr s a lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Berlin: The Downfall
Fascinating account of the demise of the Third Reich and it's despicable henchmen. It is a highly detailed account peppered with
marvellous anecdotes . Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. J. Brady
4.0 out of 5 stars Berlin
Really enjoying this book having already read the history of the Second World War and Stalingrad by the same author.
Published 2 months ago by D E Jennings
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I could not put this book down and found it gripping.Well told account of events and totally mindblowing. I highly reccommend this book.
Published 2 months ago by Excelsior
5.0 out of 5 stars a good read
A superior book on the collapse of Nazi Germany. Gives both sides of the story without being bias to one side or the other
Published 2 months ago by Animal
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
I feel I cannot give five stars to this book because I cannot say 'I love it', such is the subject matter. But, like Stalingrad, it is extremely interesting and horrifying. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andy Graham, Truro
3.0 out of 5 stars Journalist
Seller posted quickly and as described. The book itself is typical journalist-does-historian. Lifted almost entirely from Naimark and with no citing of original sources... Read more
Published 5 months ago by looloo
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