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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of military history
This is the definite account of the fall of Berlin. Dealing exclusively with the last three weeks of World War 2, Cornelius Ryan's gripping, 576 page masterpiece deals in huge detail with the Battle of Seelow Heights on the Oder, the rapid American and British advance from the west, the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, the life and death struggle of General Busse's trapped...
Published on 21 Jan 2003 by u-156

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cold War perspective on the battle of berlin
This book was deservedly famous in its day as an account of the last days of the Third Reich, but it's not as good as Ryan's account of D Day, "The longest day", and the reason for this is not hard to identify. The Russians didn't participate in D Day, whereas they shed much blood liberating Berlin from Nazi rule, and during the Cold War, when this book was written,...
Published 21 months ago by Dean, London


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of military history, 21 Jan 2003
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
This is the definite account of the fall of Berlin. Dealing exclusively with the last three weeks of World War 2, Cornelius Ryan's gripping, 576 page masterpiece deals in huge detail with the Battle of Seelow Heights on the Oder, the rapid American and British advance from the west, the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, the life and death struggle of General Busse's trapped German Ninth Army in the Spreewald and its fighting westward advance (retreat?) through the rear of Marshall Koniev's First Ukrainian Front towards their rescuers of General Wenck's Twelfth Army near American lines on the Elbe; the madness of Hitler's bunker plus the street by street advance in Berlin itself of the Red Army towards the Reichstag, shooting and raping even Jews and German Communists along the way. There is the astonishing tale of General Karl Weidling, falsely condemned to death for allegedly abandoning his 56th Panzer Corps, only to be appointed the last Commandant of Berlin 24 hours later. Also eye-opening is the crucial role played by the little known Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici. This is a superb book. The finest war history I have ever read. Buy this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding history of last days of war in Europe, 16 May 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
Ryan's previous books, Longest Day and A Bridge
too Far, along with The Final Battle, put the
overwhelming and sweeping events of WWII in a
human perspective. Traces not only the generals
and leaders of each nation, but brings out the
life and death struggles of ordinary people with
unfailing humanity. Best book of a remarkably
overlooked period in the War.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of military history, 18 May 2003
This is the definite account of the fall of Berlin. Dealing exclusively with the last three weeks of World War 2, Cornelius Ryan's gripping, 576 page masterpiece deals in huge detail with the Battle of Seelow Heights on the Oder 60 miles east of Berlin, the rapid American and British advance from the west, the Soviet encirclement of Berlin, the life and death struggle of General Busse's trapped German Ninth Army in the Spreewald southeast of the capital and its fighting westward advance (retreat?) through the rear of Marshall Koniev's First Ukrainian Front towards their rescuers of General Wenck's Twelfth Army near American lines on the Elbe; the madness of Hitler's bunker plus the street by street advance in Berlin itself of the Red Army towards the Reichstag. There is the astonishing tale of General Karl Weidling, falsely condemned to death for allegedly abandoning his 56th Panzer Corps, only to be appointed the last Commandant of Berlin 24 hours later. Also eye-opening is the crucial role played by the little known Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici. This is a superb read and, despite being written as far back as 1965, is distinctly better than the current book on the subject "Berlin: The Downfall 1945" by Anthony Beevor, which I have also reviewed. Cornelius Ryan's "The Last Battle" is the finest war history I have ever read. Buy this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Battle for Berlin: All the things that they didn't teach you in school, 15 April 2012
By 
JH "hobbs_tx" (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
In my opinion, The Last Battle is the best of Ryan's books. This is Ryan's second installment of his books on World War II. The book covers the time period from March 1945 to May 1945 with plenty of interludes into events sometimes several years previous to set the stage for last battle of WWII the battle for Berlin. There was a lot of new material here that I had not known before. The revelation about the capture of the Allied plan for the occupation of Germany, Operation Eclipse, and the German reaction to its contents was very interesting. Even more interesting was the story of how the occupation plan was conceived and finally agreed to and the complete lack of communication and unity of the US position. As with Ryan's other books, he lays out the story from beginning to end through the perspective of all sides. He shows the story unfolding from the eyes of all the allies (American, British, and Russian), the defending Germans, as well as the civilians directly involved. A large portion of the book is based on personal interviews and research to document their accuracy.

Ryan gives a expansive explanation for why Eisenhower decided to not try to beat Russia to Berlin based on first hand interviews with the major players. I had always heard that we didn't continue because of the expected casualties that were expected. While this was one factor, the more important reasons were Eisenhower believing in the "National Redoubt" in Bavaria and knowing the Eclipse plan set the post war occupation boundaries. I found the political tangles between the Americans, British, and Russians fascinating.

Equally intriguing is the German side of the conflict. I enjoyed the introduction of newly appointed defender of Eastern German Front, Colonel General Gotthard Heinrici. In addition to the informative explanation of gruff old Heinrici's battle record and how and why he was selected for the post, we also have the German position laid out by the fiery Chief of the General Staff Colonel General Heinz Guderian (wish we had maps), and the amusing meeting between Heinrici and Himmler, who Heinrici was replacing as commander of Army Group Vistula. Ryan's flowing descriptions read like the scenes of a movie only better.

It was also entertaining to read about all of Hitler's unbending directions to the defenders and his complete refusal to accept the hopeless situation they were in. He believed his own lies about the defenses of Berlin and strength of the ghost armies that were guarding the fronts. The false optimism of the entire Nazi high command was just humorous as was the Wehrmacht's complete disdain for Hitler and his Nazi flunkies. Ryan's telling of the disintegration of the remaining German forces under the weight of the massive Russian assault is truly captivating.

Last Battle does not have as much content from the everyday solders as his other books, but there is tons of content from generals and commanders as well as the civilians inhabiting Berlin. The stories of how normal the Berliners carried on their day with allied bombings several times a day is extraordinary. The stories of the Berliners planning their own deaths if the Russians took the city was chilling as was the descriptions of the rapes and brutality of the Russian occupation troops after the hard core fighting units passed through. There was also many pictures of the people described in the book. These really gave more life and humanity to the story. Russian input seemed light, but Ryan did talk to Stalin's main commanders and provides a good description of them. The competition between Zhukov and Koniev to take Berlin was a revelation and rivaled the competition among the American and British generals. The fact that Ryan was able to get even the input that he received from the Russians is truly amazing. If you have any interest in WWII, you'll find this book captivating. I recommend it highly. I also recommend reading Ryan's other two books The Longest Day: June 6, 1944 and A Bridge Too Far.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Balanced, 17 May 2009
By 
I had read a good few books on the battle of berlin 1945, but i have to say that Cornelius Ryan's Book is very balanced,detailed and is a book i will keep as a very well written book on the final days of WWII. I would recommend it to anybody with an interest in the heroic attack and defence of the City of Berlin.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great book about true history at the end of WW II, 29 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
This book also has the true history of the final days of World War II as does the great book " Conquer : Story of the Ninth Army" that is not documented in videos or televised versions of History. Video Tapes of WW II have dredfully slated versions of true history about the final days of WW II. The 2nd Armored Division crossed the Elbe River at Magdeburg and established a Bridgehead but had to withdraw due to great german defenses. The 83rd Inf. Division took Barby after bitter fighting, we crossed the Elbe River on Friday the 13, April, 1945 and established our bridgehead and other troops that stopped on the west side of the Elbe helped to reinforce it. I was there, 1st machine gun squad, "I" Co. 3rd Bn. of the 83rd Inf. Div. You will not regret the purchase of this great book also. These books rank more than 5 stars. I have them both and they do document the final days of WW II as it was.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would highly recommend this book to all., 7 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
Whether you are a serious World War II historian, or just a buff; this book would be a great choice. Ryan's writing style makes it a very easy read. He divulges many of the human traits in all of the characters. It is much more than just dates and facts.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opening account of the last days of the Third Reich., 15 May 2001
By A Customer
This book is amazing! The author has had extensive interviews with many survivors of World War II, and tells their stories in a way that is as unbiased and accurate as possible. I found myself being amused, amazed and appalled from start to finsh. A fitting tribute to the people who faced untold hardships and sacrifice to survive one of the greatest trials the human race has ever known. An absolute must have!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional breadth and depth, a superb account., 16 April 2012
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
Ryan's journalistic approach, ensuring the facts are as accurate as he could get them, makes this book fascinating, compelling and at the same time very personal.

By moving between combatants on the German, American, British and Russian sides, as well as frequently delving into the lives of Berlin's ordinary (and some extraordinary) inhabitants the reader gets a very broad appreciation of events near the close of the war around Berlin.

That he personally interviewed many of the protagonists, impressively including a number of Russians that at the time of the cold war would have been difficult to arrange meetings with, makes it a book of first hand accounts that have an immediacy lacking in some later works on world war 2.

There is also a depth, this isn't a victor's book triumphantly looking at allied victory but a study of the practice and experience of war and its effects on all involved. There are some harrowing accounts of those effects on citizens in the book. It does well to paint a memorable picture of a city and a people at the moment of final collapse.

As with Ryan's other books reading this reminds us that real people, not so different from you and I, experienced tension, fear and stress so far beyond our own lives that I questioned if I would have been brave and lucid during the worst moments as some were or if I would have fallen apart like some others did. I imagine many readers had similar thoughts.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative account of Berlin's fall, 23 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Battle (Paperback)
I'm more of a fan of historical war novels like The Triumph and the Glory, and rarely read non-fiction, but The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan, which a fellow student recommended to me, is beyond compare. Too may in the West have never acknowledged the horrific struggle the Red Army endured to conquer Berlin. A fascinating book!
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The Last Battle
The Last Battle by Ryan Cornelius (Paperback - 1 May 1995)
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