The Second World War

  • by Antony Beevor
  • Narrated by Sean Barrett
  • 39 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Over the past two decades, Antony Beevor has established himself as one of the world's premier historians of World War II. His multi-award winning books have included Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945. Now, in his newest and most ambitious book, he turns his focus to one of the bloodiest and most tragic events of the 20th century, The Second World War.
In this searing narrative, which takes us from Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939 to V-J day on August 14th, 1945, and the war's aftermath, Beevor describes the conflict and its global reach - one that included every major power. The result is a dramatic and breathtaking single-volume history that provides a remarkably intimate account of the war that, more than any other, still commands attention and an audience.
Thrillingly written and brilliantly researched, Beevor's grand and provocative account is destined to become the definitive work on this complex, tragic, and endlessly fascinating period in world history. It confirms once more that he is a military historian of the first rank.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wide ranging history of World War II

I bought this history of the Second World War because I had previously read Mr. Beevor’s book on D-Day and thought it was both well written and thorough and this book is no different. It covers all of World War II including those theaters like Burma and China which are often ignored because they do not seem to have played a central role in the conflict. He logically follows the events of the war in chronological order and this often has chapters switching around the globe to follow what is happening. Some, like me, will need a map to follow events in places where their knowledge of the geography is skimpy.

Mr. Beevor covers events thoroughly with descriptions of the battles often describing attempts to take little known but important hill positions or road junctions. While the descriptions are clear they sometimes seem a little too detailed for those wanting an overview of the battles. The book is full of little vignettes which are often informative enough to clarify the political as well as military events. One example would be Georgy Zhukov’s assumption, when summoned by Stalin in 1938 to take charge of the First Soviet Mongolian Army Group, that he needed to bring his personal belonging because he was probably being sent to the Gulag. No description of the political atmosphere in The Soviet Union could more clearly show the climate of fear and repression than that simple story. Similar little stories, often taken from letters or diary entries, from politicians, soldiers, husbands, wives and others are sprinkled throughout the book and they help to explain the true situation in ways that simple narrative could not.

There is an oddity in this book. Mr. Beevor lists the date of Pearl Harbor as Dec 8. When I first heard this I assumed that perhaps he was talking about the date in Tokyo, but the book specifically states that planes left the carrier at 6:05 on December 8th. An odd thing since everyone knows it was december 7th.

Another thing that I feel should be mentioned is Mr. Beevor’s distain for many of those in either political or military positions of importance. Erwin Rommel, generally thought of as one of the more moral and insightful generals of the German army, is described as careless, unwilling to face facts, ignorant of logistics and unwilling to listen to his superiors (a trait that I always thought was one of his best). General Eisenhower is spoken of as “politically naïve” while current biographies speak of him as a brilliant politician (see Jean Edward Smith’s biography or Evan Thomas’ book “Ike’s Bluff”). Churchill, the man recently voted the greatest figure in UK history, is treated poorly by Mr. Beevor, Franklin Roosevelt is presented as short sighted, the picture of general Stillwell in this book is a very different pricture than that presented in "Stillwell And The American Experience In China", and the list goes on. I am so much not taking issue with Mr. Beevor’s opinions – one of the reasons I buy books like this one is to see and hear differing opinions – as to point them out to the potential reader.

Sean Barrett’s reading of this book is adequate although not inspired. Perhaps inspiration is too much to ask for a narrator who has to read a 39 hour plus book and I should mention that his narration never really gets tiring. I have given this book 4 stars party because of the narration (which is good but not great), partly because this book requires 2 credits but mostly because I personally find much of what Mr. Beevor writes too much at odds with many of the other books I have read on this and related topics. It is, I think, worth reading but if the listener wants to read only one book on World War II I might suggest Inferno by Max Hastings
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- Mike From Mesa "MikeFromMesa"

It Fills in Gaps I Didn't Know Existed

I've been reading histories of WWII and watching the documentaries for forty years or so. (If I count the High School books about WWII fighter battles it's more like 50 years.) I'd recently gone back and listened to ???The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,??? a book I hadn't read since 1970. I thought that I had a pretty good handle on the major events. Yet, time and again Beevor was able to illuminate some aspect of the events that I had either never considered or had never heard about. His skillful blending of macro historical details with first-hand accounts from soldiers' letters home made listening to the book a riveting experience. If you are interested in the history of this global conflict, it is definitely worth the two credits.
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-20-2012
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio