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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 29 May 2009
This book was written in 1965. Such a book dealing with the Second World War period potentially has the disadvantage that it does not have the benefit of the latest scholarship and material (such as the former Soviet records, available on the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s). On the other hand, it has the advantage of being written while many of the participants of these great events were very much alive, and could provide eyewitness accounts and even dialogue. Naturally the author has to allow for memory failures and distortions (both inadvertent and deliberate), and this requires meticulous fact checking.

With this book, Mr. Toland seems to have been wildly successful on all fronts. To me, it seems that the later material hasn't detracted at all from his account. Moreover, the book has a freshness and immediacy that takes one right into conferences, discussions and battle situations as if one were actually there, sitting at the shoulder of Roosevelt, Truman, Churchill, Stalin, Zhukov, Eisenhower. In a way, it is reminiscent of Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day", also written when many of the participants were still available for interview and the events still relatively fresh in mind, yet sufficiently removed for some reflection.

It is particularly good at disentangling the complicated threads of communications failure, conflicting ambitions and wishful thinking inherent in all large human enterprises - the Nazi's fervent belief that the Allies must surely turn with them against the Soviet Union and save "civilisation", and the poker-playing between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union as the former tried (in vain) to extract from the latter its real intentions and to prevent its domination of all eastern Europe. It also puts a human face on some of the greatest monsters of the 20th century, such as Hitler and Himmler, showing what pathetic excuses of humans they really were.

There may be more detailed, perhaps more accurate, accounts of the final 100 days of the European war. However, it is difficult to imagine anyone ever doing it better than this always fascinating, immensely readable account, which holds the reader's attention from page 1 to the end.
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on 10 July 2003
John Toland brings a rich immediacy with this book. You feel like an eyewitness watching events unfold, whether it be in an Allied prisoner of war camp in Eastern Germany, in the Fuehrerbunker, at the conference tables among diplomats and generals, or on the front lines as the Third Reich enters its death throes.
Mr. Toland is very meticulous in the type of research he brings to bear in this book. He has written a highly readable and historically comprehensive work. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on 19 April 2012
The most surprising thing I learned from this book was just how much of History plays out as a succession of misunderstandings, deliberate or accidental, and how much farce took place during the final collapse of the 3rd Reich: Guderian and Hitler almost coming to blows over strategy(The War Room pie fight in Dr Strangelove, anyone?):Rudel's insane courage on the eastern front which, whilst awesome, was also pointless and redundant. My own particular favourite is the codename for the plot to kidnap the Hungarian regent Admiral Horthy's son: "Mickey Mouse"(Mickey Maus, perhaps?),indeed!A great book, in many ways, I feel, far superior to Ian Kershaw's "The End".
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on 9 August 2001
This book is amazing. It includes in detail the arguements and aggreements of the Big Three- Stalin, Roosevelt (Later Truman) and Churchill. The book expresses on the armies of Russia, America and Britain, and how they had different views about the war. Then it describes the facts behind the motivations of the German Generals and their quarrels with Hitler. Before the ending, the book mentions the Germans desire to surrender and capitulate. Finally, the book moves on to a dramatic climax with the death of Hitler and the the German surrender.
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on 3 July 2009
A complete education for me about what happened at the end of WW2. Needs concentration but worth it in the end. So revealing.
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on 1 December 2014
all in accordance to what is said.
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