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Exploding the myth of the 'professional' Wehrmacht, standing aloof from Nazi politics, this book investigates why Germany followed Hitler into the abyss. As in Ian Kershaw's other books on WW2, his research is meticulous, and the narrative is logical and enlivened by extracts from contemporary diaries. It is a truly horrifying story. I liked Sean Pratt's narration though I found his pronunciation occasionally idiosyncratic.
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The End is a study of how Germany kept their civilian and military committed to World War II to the end in spite of it being clear that the war was lost, especially after the successful Allied landings in Normandy. While I think there is nothing very surprising in this book (German fear of the Russian Army during the war is well known as is the power of the Nazi government to enforce its edicts), the book held together for me reasonably well in spite of my having read a good amount about this war. There was nothing very new, but neither did the book ever get boring.
Mr Kershaw is a known expert on Adolph Hitler and on Germany during the Nazi period and, although his views may diverge from the commonly held belief that Hitler was Nazi Germany, his knowledge about how Germany perservered until the end of the war as a single state without anyone signing a separate treaty with the Western Powers is of considerable interest. The ability of the Wehrmacht to successfully resist the British, Canadian and US Armies in France, Belgium and Western Germany was always been a puzzle to me considering that it was also fighting the Russians in the East and that the populations and economies of the countries it was fighting were much larger than that of Germany.
While not breaking any new ground (for me, at least), it did successfully piece together all of the separate threads which held Germany together and proved helpful and informative. This is, of course, not a replacement for a study of the war as a whole, but a successful adjunct to that part of a general study that covers the closing period of that war. I recommend it on that basis.
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