- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (22 Jan. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571227724
- ISBN-13: 978-0571227723
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.7 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 820,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Liberation: The Bitter Road to Freedom, Europe 1944-1945 Hardcover – 22 Jan 2009
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"A powerful and important new work of history.... A thorough, passionate corrective to any simple telling of the terrible last year of this war." -- Financial Times
"An eloquent presentation of what are too often called war's `collateral effects.' Chaos, destruction and suffering are not collateral. They are fundamental."
-- History Book Club
"Remarkable . . . Underlines that the liberation of Europe was both a major military triumph and a human tragedy of epic proportions." -- Irish Times
"The first book I have read that explicitly addresses the plight of civilians during the `crusade for Europe.' ... This tale vividly demonstrates that there was no cause for triumphalism in the condition of Europe following the defeat of Hitler." -- Max Hastings, Sunday Times
"Remarkable . . . Underlines that the liberation of Europe was both a major military triumph and a human tragedy of epic proportions."See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The second book shifts to an examination of the fighting in the east. Here Hitchcock provides a broader account, one that begins with the German invasion in 1941. This allows him to recount the atrocities committed by Nazi forces, something that allows him to put the conduct of Soviet troops into context. Civilians are much less central to Hitchcock's analysis here, as he also discusses postwar planning for Germany's fate. It is only when Germany itself becomes the battleground that the civilians reemerge as the central focus of the narrative, where again they are presented as victims of the savagery of war.
The final two sections concentrate on the development and administration of relief efforts for those who survived the fighting. The third book addresses the problem posed by 'displaced persons', the millions of refugees created by the war. Here he examines the efforts not just of the Allied forces but of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), a newly-formed agency that sought to improve on the private relief efforts that characterized the last war.Read more ›
Hitchcock writes in a scholarly and engaging way, has done a great deal of research, and approaches his subject from very many angles--yet the book is in my view not the masterpiece some suggest.
1) It is not original to write about rape by Allied troops. We have been hearing about this for about 40 years.
2) Nor was I amazed to read that the liberators did not on the whole see themselves as saving the Jews.
3) The inconsistency between chapters irritated me. In one chapter the Americans like the Germans, wish to forgive them, and find them friendly, attractive and well-fed. In another they hate them and hope the Russians will punish them. In one chapter Belgium is spared the full horror of war (compared to Holland), in another it is used as the example of German cruelty to civilian resisters.
4) Imbalance and omissions are also troubling. How curious to say the SS shot a handful of Belgians while retreating in 1944, yet not deal with what they did to Jews and Poles in Warsaw, and to describe the humiliation of 12 German soldiers' girlfriends by the French Resistance at Cherbourg yet omit the killing of between 4,000 and 15,000 Vichyites and collaborationists over the coming months.
Similarly, why cite 130 air raid deaths in central Normandy in the weeks leading up to D-Day, and mention Fromentin as a source, then not mention the massive death toll (3,000+) caused by the RAF at Le Havre 3 months later--quite the worst Allied raid on a "friendly population" of the whole war?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating and eye opening book covering a part of WW2 we rarely hear about. at times shocking it stands as a clear lesson to some of the detestation war can leave.Published 9 months ago by Dave
The classic historical narrative of liberation in Europe at the end of World War II is one of celebration, thanksgiving, gratitude, relief. Read morePublished 13 months ago by C. Ball
Sorry - can't review - book was a present for a relativePublished 13 months ago by Mr. Michael Bennett
"The Bitter Road to Freedom" is first and foremost a work written by and for Americans. Unlike in much of (continental) Europe, where the ambivalent and tragic nature of the end of... Read morePublished on 17 Aug. 2011 by M. A. Krul
William Hitchcock's book covers a wide spectrum of the experiences of those who found themselves involved in the 'Liberation' of Europe. Read morePublished on 14 Jun. 2011 by HuddyBolly
The intention of the book is clear from the outset - to describe the experience of civilians post World War 2, and, in that sense, it is largely a success. Read morePublished on 22 Jan. 2011 by Tree Bee
I thought this book was highly illuminating and really quite gripping. Mr Hitchcock's style is authoritative while highly readable. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2009 by Paul
For anyone trying to work out how the people of Europe got back on their feet in the aftermath of WW2 the book is a bit of a dissapointment. Read morePublished on 10 April 2009 by J. R. Chipman
This is a top notch book and one that should be required reading for any interested in the human aspect of liberation. Read morePublished on 15 Mar. 2009 by Bobby Smith