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Last Battle: The Classic History of the…
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Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin (1966)

by Cornelius Ryan

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In The Last Battle, Cornelius Ryan recounts the battle for Berlin and the final collapse of the Nazi regime, as the Allies swept into Germany from the west only to cede the capital to the Soviet army. Most western audiences are naturally more familiar with events on the western front, but here Ryan focuses more on the clash of the Germans and the Soviets to the east. This is grim stuff as the Russians wreak their vengeance, but nonetheless fascinating; if you've read his other books, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far, you know he paints a vivid picture, weaving several threads into a gripping narrative.

It's difficult to wrap one's head around the level of barbaric brutality to which supposedly civilized societies could descend so recently in our past, unless you remember that the Nazis in the end were reaping the bitter fruits of the seeds of hatred and violence that they had sown (which is not to excuse some of the Soviet excesses). Ryan does an excellent job capturing the senseless horror or it, while still managing to find some meaning amidst the chaos. Even if you've read quite a bit about the war, I can almost guarantee there's plenty of material here you've not seen elsewhere. Definitely worth a read.

http://www.amazon.com/review/RO0Q4OEILI3TW ( )
  AshRyan | Jan 19, 2015 |
On of the best books about the final, desperate battle for Berlin. Like all of Ryan's book, its built around personal accounts of people who lived through it. The unlikely hero is General Gotthard Heinrici, the pragmatic soldier tasked by Hitler with doing the impossible and fending off the rampaging Soviet armies. With supreme military skill, Heinrici succeeds in delaying the Soviets for a few days and inflicts massive casualties on them, but eventually the inevitable happens and they break through. Heinrici then performs the bravest action of his military career. Rather than subject his crippled forces to a last-ditch suicidal defence of Berlin, he defies Hitler's orders and leads his men and as many civilians as he can to the west where they can surrender to the Americans and British. For this he is excoriated and sacked by Hitler, a meaningless gesture because the Fuhrer committs suicide a couple of days later. But Heinrici has saved thousands of his men from death or long captivity in Siberia. Woven through this heroic tale are the stories of many others involved in the desperate final days, German civilians, including women who endured being raped, sometimes many times, by Russian soldiers, soldiers from both sides who go through the horrors of the last crushing of nazi Germany, and westerners who are essentially spectators to this unbelievable chaos. A great book, gripping, breath-taking. ( )
1 vote drmaf | Oct 17, 2013 |
A good read, Ryan always is, but for more depth and the horrific suffering of Berliners, go to Antony beevor's book on the fall of Berlin. ( )
  Warlord74 | Sep 9, 2010 |
The Last Battle, by Cornelius Ryan (read 25 May 1967) There is an interesting article on this book in Wikipedia. I have no contemporaneous note re my reading of the book back in 1967, I regret to say. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 9, 2009 |
Tremendous chronicle of the fall of Berlin. As usual, Ryan communicates the story of people living through chaos and disaster of war. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Apr 10, 2009 |
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This book is for the memory of a Boy who was born in Berlin during the last months of the war.
His name was 

Peter Fechter.

In 1962 he was machine-gunned by his own people and left to bleed to death by the side of the most tragic memorial to the allied victory - the Berlin Wall.
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In the northern latitudes the dawn comes early.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684803291, Paperback)

THE CLASSIC ACCOUNT OF THE FINAL OFFENSIVE AGAINST HITLER'S THIRD REICH

The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come.

The Last Battle is Cornelius Ryan's compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate imperatives of survival, where, as the author describes it, "to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to exist more militarily correct than to win."

The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The classic account of the final offensive against Hitler's Third Reich -- newly in print for the 50th anniversary of VE Day. The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and brought the Nazi leviathan to its downfall. It was also one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal moments, whose outcome would play a part in determining the complexion of international politics for decades to come. The Last Battle is the compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate questions of survival, where, as the author describes it, "to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to exist more militarily correct than to win." The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.… (more)

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