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Publisher's Summary

The true story of the bloodiest and most dramatic march to victory of the Second World War: the battlefield odyssey of a maverick U.S. Army officer and his infantry unit as they fought for over five hundred days to liberate Europe - from the invasion of Italy to the gates of Dachau.
From July 10, 1943, the date of the Allied landing in Sicily, to May 8, 1945, when victory in Europe was declared - the entire time it took to liberate Europe - no regiment saw more action, and no single platoon, company, or battalion endured worse, than the ones commanded by Felix Sparks, who had entered the war as a greenhorn second lieutenant of the 157th "Eager for Duty" Infantry Regiment of the 45th "Thunderbird" Division. Sparks and his fellow Thunderbirds fought longest and hardest to defeat Hitler, often against his most fanatical troops, when the odds on the battlefield were even and the fortunes of the Allies hung in the balance - and when the difference between defeat and victory was a matter of character, not tactics or armor.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Sparks and dozens of his men, as well as over five years of research in Europe and in archives across the US, historian Alex Kershaw masterfully recounts one of the most inspiring and heroic journeys in military history. Over the course of four amphibious invasions, Sparks rose from captain to colonel as he battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the diehard SS on the Fatherland's borders. Though he lost all of his company to save the Allied beach-head at Anzio and an entire battalion in the dark forests of the Vosges, Sparks miraculously survived the long bloody march across Europe and was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria to hunt down Adolf Hitler.
In the dying days of the Third Reich, Sparks and his men crossed the last great barrier in the West, the Rhine, only to experience some of the most intense street fighting and close combat suffered by Americans in WWII. When they finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Hitler's first and most notorious concentration camp, the Thunderbirds confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason. With victory within grasp, Sparks confronted the ultimate test of his humanity: after all he had faced, could he resist the urge to wreak vengeance on the men who had caused untold suffering and misery?
Written with the narrative drive and vivid immediacy of Kershaw's previous best-selling books about American infantrymen in WWII, The Liberator is a story for the ages, an intensely human and dramatic account of one of history's greatest warriors and his unheralded role in America's finest achievement - the defeat of Nazi Germany.
©2012 Alex Kershaw (P)2012 Random House Audio
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Critic Reviews

"[Kershaw] is a captivating narrator, hammering home the chaos and carnage of war, sparing no sensory detail to paint a cohesive picture. [His] portrayal of his subject (based on interviews with Sparks, who died in 2007, and other survivors) makes for a riveting, almost epic tale of a larger-than-life, underappreciated figure." (Publishers Weekly)
"This engrossing wartime narrative offers a fresh look at the European campaign and an intimate sense of the war’s toll on individual participants." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A searing, brilliantly told story of the heroism and horror of war, Alex Kershaw's The Liberator is a book that's impossible to put down. A must read for anyone who loved Band of Brothers." (Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By The Zombie Specialist on 03-05-14

The Good and Bad of the Human character

Would you consider the audio edition of The Liberator to be better than the print version?

Sorry never read the print version

What did you like best about this story?

Despite being in hellish situations the good of men can come to fore

Have you listened to any of Fred Sanders’s other performances before? How does this one compare?


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not a chance

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

By Steven on 11-27-12

Now I Know What a Hero Really Is

I listened to this book having read a number of very engaging books about WWII. As a 47 year old male who never experienced war, I am fascinated by the bravery of men like Sparks who experienced brutality and bravery on a scale seldom matched.

Listening to this book while driving in my car to work, I found myself for the first time understanding the pain and sacrifice of men who moved toward danger and fought for an ideal. I cannot fathom what it was like on the beaches, caves and in the most terrifying situations but I can understand that these men are special and for that no amount of gratitude comes even close to thanking them.

The book really hit home when Sparks and his men liberated Dachau. With absolutely no frame of reference to see this living nightmare, it is no wonder that any of these men could even articulate what transpired. When one of the soldiers said "now I know what we were fighting against", nothing could have connected the dots better regarding the need to fight such an evil.

To anyone who wants to understand what war is like and look up to men who are real heroes...please listen to this book.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By jules phillips on 08-25-16

One of my top 10

Great man. Incredible story. Nicely narrated. To put it simply, I was captivated from the beaches of Sicily to the very end of the story.

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By alan on 09-29-15

unrecognisable courage

the selfless acts and fearlessness that this leader of men shown both during and post war should be shown and used as an educational tool to help a new generation realise how people can and should care for one another.
A fantastic book which made me change my own priorities in life

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Customer Reviews

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By Adam Webb on 04-21-16


This book is completely and utterly engrossing. It is simply one of the best accounts I've encountered. Sparks fought through 500 days of hell on earth that I just can't imagine. Even though the book revolves around the war, the pre and post war narratives are equally interesting. I find the ending poignant. The narration is excellent although Sanders' accents aren't the best. The book provides an interesting and new perspective through which to view the SS that I had not really considered before. I always find it difficult to reconcile the fact that young men were plucked from the best years of their lives, were required to do ungodly things, yet after victory they were simply returned to society from whence they came. This book encapsulates the lifelong trauma that accompanied these men.

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