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102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal but gripping read
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...
Published on 12 May 2002 by A. J. Sudworth

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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account, but flawed in presentation
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...
Published on 16 Jun 2002 by Peter Groome


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102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal but gripping read, 12 May 2002
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
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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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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellently researched, compassionately written history, 15 Feb 2004
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. I found this slightly distasteful in view of the preceding four years; indeed, Beevor quotes an injured German veteran speaking out on a crowded Berlin train that if the Russians repay Germany a quarter what was done to them, then Germany would cease to exist. But this appears to be in keeping with the underlying political subtext of the book, which seems to be a demonstration of the consequences of political indoctrination of totalitarian regimes, at the expense of stifling humanity.

Beevor succeeds in delivering a hard-hitting, compassionate story of needless suffering, bravery and sacrifice woven beside unspeakable cruelty, revenge and butchery. It is by turns a clear and well-researched historical account of military operations, and a barely-disguised polemic on the evils of political extremism and the dire consequences of totalitarian expansionism.
A multilayered historical account with a heavyweight political subtext. This is a fine book which should be read by all.
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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
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Harrowing Yet Compelling Story Of Total War., 5 Nov 2007
The Soviet advance to Berlin in the closing months of the Second World War was the culmination of the bloodiest front of the bloodiest war in human history. It would be relatively easy for a competent historian to present a broad overview of what happened just as telling one of the individual stories is a task that could be undertaken by any biographers. What Beevor does in "Berlin: the Downfall", is to simultaneously present both the broad narrative of what was happening with dozens of small stories that give a sense of what the participants experienced.

The author has been criticised in some quarters for highlighting some of the atrocities by the advancing Red Army, in particular the mass rapes that occurred. This is not a reasonable criticism, the book is about the Soviet advance into Germany so inevitably the atrocities by the Red Army are more prominent than Nazi atrocities. Besides which Antony Beevor still gives enough examples of Nazi brutality against the Soviets to give any reader a clear understanding of why the Russians were not overly sympathetic to the plight of German civilians, who had by and large not objected to their army's behaviour.

The book is both informative and evocative about the events being retold and is an excellent companion work to Beevor's equally good "Stalingrad".
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating account, but flawed in presentation, 16 Jun 2002
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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
By 
Mr. J. Walmsley "The Finch" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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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
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The audio cd, 29 Jan 2008
By 
I. A. Smith (Cardiff UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (Audio CD)
I read this captivating yet deeply tradgic account of the catastrophic end to the German third reich, but was even more taken by the audio version. If you can afford the unabridged version, or can borrow it from your library you will be totally absorbed by the wonderful reading of Sean Barrett. After so many hours of listening he became the commanding voice of the text and was a perfect choice and is deserving of an award for its epic power of narration.
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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
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
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. However, he does go deep enough into the subject that it's obviously not intended for light reading. This is a history book, and it certainly feels like one. It's not history-lite for somebody with just a mild interest in the subject. Not being a historian, I can't speak to the accuracy of the research, but he does have a lot of sources, all of which are detailed in the back. He uses archives, interviews, unpublished diaries (including three sources that he insists must remain anonymous, so presumably they are Russian), mostly primary sources. The notes, unfortunately, are in my least favourite format: instead of end or footnotes, the notes are listed by page number and then a brief snippet of a quote to state which section he is referencing. I find this incredibly annoying and hard to follow, so much so that I don't even bother after awhile.
The maps are outstanding as well. Unfortunately, they are all at the front of the book, so you do find yourself flipping back and forth a little bit. It would have been nice to have a couple of full strategic maps at the beginning of the book, but to have the tactical maps begin the section in which they are described. Still, the maps themselves are very well done and definitely worth the time it takes to look at them before reading about the specific operation. They detail every attack, even the attacks on the Western Front. Since the Western Front is not talked about very much, this shows how complete they are.
This is a truly powerful book, especially where Beevor describes the utter devastation that affected Poland and eastern Germany. Berlin was nothing but a pile of rubble with bombs going off everywhere and hardly any buildings without any bomb damage. I think it affected me even more because of the time I was reading it (i.e during the Iraq war). Here I was seeing so little (relatively speaking of course) city and civilian damage, and then I'm reading this book where cities were being bombed into oblivion. It was very disheartening. You certainly should not be reading this book if you're depressed. Beevor details the horrors of war, as German citizens flee from the onrushing Soviets, victorious soldiers rape and pillage to their hearts' content, and there is so much human suffering. Even the Polish and the captured Soviet troops were not spared any of this. It is truly amazing sometimes what the human race is capable of, and Beevor tells us all about it.
That is another small fault with this book, though. While I certainly understand the concentration on the devastation that was inflicted on the Germans, Beevor really seems to centre on the subject of rape. Time and time again he comes back to the subject, and it became a bit annoying after awhile. This is not necessarily because he kept coming back to it, but because every time he did come back to it, he'd go on for a couple of pages about it. It started to get monotonous. I realize that this happened, and that it shouldn't be white-washed, but after the first few times he could surely just briefly cover the fact that more rapes happened at this time. Either that, or he should have just had a chapter detailing the horrors that happened and then not really talked about them again.
Ultimately, though, this is a very worthy book, with just enough minor quibbles to bring it down to four stars. If you like military history, this is definitely the book for you. This period of World War II is not well-documented in book form, at least not that I've seen. Beevor does a great job of covering the subject and I think you'll like it. You certainly won't enjoy it, but you will find it compelling. And isn't that what a history book should be?
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95 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grim and gruesome masterpiece, 28 April 2002
By A Customer
This is by no means "another war book". It brings the harsh realities of totalitarianism to the fore. This is the story of the last battle of the European theatre of World War 2, a battle to the end.
It is the story not so much of the downfall of Berlin in 1945, but the crushing of the city and the brutalisation of the population.
Finishing this book you are left with a disgust of war, a disgust of mans inhumanity to man, and a digust of men's inhumanity to women.
A shocking and enthralling read, brilliantly written by a brilliant author. It is unputdownable and eclipses his earlier "Stalingrad" work.
A masterpiece.
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Berlin: The Downfall 1945
Berlin: The Downfall 1945 by Antony Beevor (Audio CD - Sep 2002)
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