The Story of World War II

  • by Donald L. Miller, Henry Steele Commager
  • Narrated by Michael Kramer
  • 24 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Drawing on previously unpublished eyewitness accounts, prizewinning historian Donald L. Miller has written what critics are calling one of the most powerful accounts of warfare ever published. Here are the horror and heroism of World War II in the words of the men who fought it, the journalists who covered it, and the civilians who were caught in its fury. Miller gives us an up-close, deeply personal view of a war that was more savagely fought - and whose outcome was in greater doubt - than one might imagine. This is the war that Americans on the home front would have read about had they had access to the previously censored testimony of the soldiers on which Miller builds his gripping narrative.
Miller covers the entire war - on land, at sea, and in the air - and provides new coverage of the brutal island fighting in the Pacific, the bomber war over Europe, the liberation of the death camps, and the contributions of African Americans and other minorities. He concludes with a suspenseful, never-before-told story of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, based on interviews with the men who flew the mission that ended the war.
Donald L. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College. He is a creator and associate producer of the HBO documentary He Has Seen War and has been chief consultant for numerous award-winning PBS productions. He is author of the prizewinning City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America.


What the Critics Say

"This is the book that deserves to be titled The Story of World War II...." (James Bradley, New York Times best-selling author)
"A major publishing event. Donald Miller’s additions to the original account are outstanding, and the total effect is one few readers will ever forget." (David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author)
"Whenever you do a film, there’s always a book that you want in your hip pocket to settle all questions. The Story of World War II was that book." (Ken Burns, creator of the seven-part documentary The War)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I thought I had "WW II'd" myself into a coma, listening to or reading more than 50 books and watching a kazillion documentaries and online videos about World War II in the past year. I was just about to pass on this 25 hour account when I became outraged by one of the written reviews. While giving the book an overall favorable review, without the 5-star rating of the other written reviews, this listener claimed that her only criticism was that the book overdid the contributions of African-Americans to the war. REALLY? This is one of the very few books NOT written by a black author that even MENTIONS the many minority members of the military who fought in ALL of our wars, including the Civil War. Blacks were originally seen by the US as "not fit for combat duty" and were given positions as cooks, supply clerks, deck hands, etc. Eleanor Franklin changed all of that.

Was this reviewer aware of the MAJOR support that the 761st Tank Battalion - the first all-black tank battalion - gave to General Patton, helping him win the war? Black soldiers were relegated to what the military termed as "iron coffins" due the cumbersome movement of the tanks and the ever-present carbon monoxide leaking INSIDE the vehicles (often killing black soldiers silently, to be found by their comrades sitting up, eyes open, mid-sentence). Yet, Patton openly claimed "that a colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor." (In the 1970 film "Patton", the 761st unit was depicted as WHITE soldiers coming to the general's aid!) While saving the lives of hundreds white "comrades", who openly called the members of the 761st "niggers" and "monkeys", the unit suffered 156 casualties; 24 men killed and 88 wounded, in the month of November 1944 ALONE! The unit also lost 14 tanks and another 20 damaged in combat. In December 1944, the battalion was rushed to the aid of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne. After the Battle of the Bulge, the unit opened the way for the U.S. 4th Armored Division into Germany during an action that breached the Siegfried Line. In the final days of the war in Europe, the 761st was one of the first American units to reach the Steyr in Austria, at the Enns River, where they met with Ukrainians of the Soviet Army. THAT IS JUST ONE UNIT IN ONE BRANCH OF THE MILITARY!

Black Americans fought and died with distinction in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. But the real tragedy is that, after serving their country in order to stop the industrial murder of the European Jews at the hands of the Nazis and helping to end the war so that thousands of American, British, Australian and Chinese military and civilians could be liberated from the unparalleled cruelty in Japanese prisoner of war camps, black Americans returned to the United States to sit in the back of buses, drink from "Colored Only" water fountains, be assaulted, lynched and murdered, to be denied the same veterans benefits given to their white counterparts such as employment, housing, education, medical care, etc. Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr. was BLINDED by South Carlina police officers while in uniform, just hours after being honorably discharged from the US Army!

These men's accomplishments were ignored by the military and America, their records of bravery suspiciously "lost". These AMERICANS were not honored for decades. After being rejected countless times, the members of the 761st Tank Battalion were finally recognized in 1978, eventually receiving 1 Medal of Honor, 296 Purple Hearts, 11 Silver Stars, and 69 Bronze Stars. In 1994, the THREE surviving members of the Navy ship USS Mason were awarded a letter of commendation for "meritorious service". The famous Tuskegee Airmen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007 - given mostly to their widows or posthumously. The black Marines weren't recognized until 2012.

That said, this book - TWENTY-FOUR HOURS AND 58 MINUTES LONG - served the black Americans who fought and died in World War II both fairly and without undue bias. They were an integral component of the war effort and for anyone to disparage an author giving credit where it is long overdue smacks of the continued institutional racism that the U.S. is still guilty of.

I know that my review will receive more "Not Helpful" ratings than "Helpful" but I really don't care! I'm willing, once again, to stick my neck out to say what needs to be said. This is a great book about a major historical event. Black Americans were a part of that war and deserve to be included just like Hitler, Hirohito, and Patton. ALL three of those "men" were the worse racists ever but no one has a thing to say about the hundreds of accounts written about them!

If you want to learn more about our contributions in war, check out "Brothers In Arms", a fantastic book about the 761st written by NBA great Kareem Abdul Jabbar. You will be surprised to learn that baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, was a member of the 761st! Truth be told, there can NEVER be too much revealed about the bravery and heroism of the black members of American military ranks!
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- Linda Lou "OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!"

Excellent Overview of a Catastrophic Event

I randomly found out about this book from the recommended history category books on Audible. I've always been a history buff and have read countless articles and books about World War II.

There are several stories and facts that kept even the typical WW2 enthusiast wanting more. These days, it's hard to find non-recycled material in books like these.

You'll find that much of the history is told in the words of soldiers or journalists embedded with the American troops or sailors. It definitely focuses on the American side of the war, but I recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about World War II without getting into the boring details. If you're interested in more WW2; give "Pacific Crucible" a shot, I think you'll like it just as well.

Overall: This book was perfect for the layman's WW2 interest. It was rarely boring and kept my attention throughout most of the reading. The narration was good as well. I'd give it a 4.5 for sure.

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- Patrick "Et tu, Brute?"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-12-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.