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Five Days That Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II
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Five Days That Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II

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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  392 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
In the momentous days from April 28 to May 2, 1945, the world witnessed the death of two Fascist dictators and the fall of Berlin. Mussolini's capture and execution by Italian partisans, the suicide of Adolf Hitler, and the fall of the German capital signaled the end of the four-year war in the European Theater. In Five Days That Shocked the World, Nicholas Best thrills re ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2012)
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Anatoly Shneyer
Jun 28, 2016 Anatoly Shneyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Honestly, when I first came by this book I didn't thought I will enjoy it. Obviously, the last days of the war were significant with a lot of important events such as Hitler`s death and the surrender of Nazi Germany. But if you try to focus on single events that had a big influence on the war, days like D-day or the beginning of Operation Barbarossa will probably be the ones that come to mind (yes, I know there are a lot of books about these important events).

Well, I was wrong. I think that thi
...more
Alona
Very good!
Jim
I've read quite a few books detailing the period leading up to WWII and it remains the period that I find most interesting due to the descent of a cultured nation into the worst kind of barbarism. However, this book focuses on a brief period at the end of the war - five days (actually a bit more than 5 days). I found it interesting the way the author viewed the past through some select individuals rather than simply listing facts, events, and timeframes. I think this is a sobering message for ...more
Monty
Apr 15, 2014 Monty rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this account of the final five days of World War Two in the European theatre. In terms of the historical detail; for the most part, it was a revisit of detail which was substantively previously reported in the press and academic accounts over the years. However, the appeal lay in the personal accounts of some of the principal players at the time (eg Admiral Donitz), but perhaps more so from the minor players (eg Sophia Loren, Kurt Vonnegut, Spike Milligan, Pope John Paul etc). ...more
Saibal
Nov 01, 2013 Saibal rated it it was amazing
The most comprehensive account of the end of the Second World War that I have read. Nicholas Best has an amazing gift of putting events in perspective and making them so poignant. Refraining from romanticizing the war as most authors often do, his accounts paint a very honest but ghastly picture of human folly. I already knew most of the stories from the end of WW2 before I started reading the book. However, his descriptions echoed a new perspective and meaning. The book is filled with ...more
Jose Luis
El mejor libro que he leío al momento.
5 días que fueron descritos de forma congruente y natural. El libro esta dividido en 5 partes, que son los 5 dias que se mencionan; del 29 de abril al 3 de mayo de 1945.

Muy recomendable su lectura, no viene explicado tácticas militares o decisiones de algún General, se describen el acontecer de varios personajes en esos 5 dias -conocidos y no tan conocidos- y lo que enfrentaron justo antes de la rendición de Alemania.

Justo el libro que estaba buscando.

Musso
...more
Kristin
Sep 15, 2012 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I really liked this historical read about the end of WWII. It's different in that you see the end from the point of view of people who later became famous or played important political roles then and in the future.
One cool thing, at the back of the book-you're told what happened to each of these people. Some of it I already knew, most I didn't. One hint-while you're reading, if a particular person interests you-check the back to see what happened to them. I realized too late and it would have m
...more
C.
Very thoroughly researched for readers who can stomach it. I couldn't, so I did not finish reading it. Far too horrifying, and gruesome for me, with detailed brutality!
Wendy
Oct 19, 2016 Wendy rated it really liked it
Of all the World War II books I've read, this book provides a whole new perspective altogether. Stunning.
K. D. Hanson
Aug 30, 2014 K. D. Hanson rated it it was amazing
After 3 long, schedule hectic weeks, I am proud to say I have officially completed reading this phenomenal book. At first, I had immediate apprehension reading the book primarily because it was on clearance - an evident indication that the book may be horrible for its lack of interest. I am glad to say, this book boasts of one of the most greatest compositions in the WW2 genre. From Mussolini's death, to Dachau's liberation, to the surrender of Italy, Germany, then to the death of Adolf Hitler, ...more
Paul Lunger
Sep 29, 2014 Paul Lunger rated it it was amazing
In "Five Days That Shocked the World: Eyewitness Accounts from Europe at the End of World War II", Nicholas Best gives a detailed & at times disturbing look at the events from April 28-May 2, 1945. In great detail & using first hand accounts from not only the major players but also people who would become famous for other things post-war, he describes each segment of the events leading up to the surrender of both Italy & Germany. The book itself is divided into 5 parts one for each ...more
goddess
Apr 19, 2015 goddess rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, own
An interesting look into what happened in certain parts of Europe during the last five days of WWII. From Hitler to Mussolini to Stalin to the Allied troops; there were plenty of shocking things that took place, not to mention shocking things that occurred during the war that came to light once the Nazi shield was removed. The Nazi leadership had some seriously F'd up people. Many of them decided participating in sex orgies and/or killing themselves would be better than facing the consequences ...more
Richard R., Martin
I initial got this book because I thought it would go into detail what those soon to be famous people like Walter Cronkite, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Pope Benedict were doing in the last days of the WWII in Europe. While it does contain small episodes of what these people did it really covers the last days in a number of different locations like Berlin, Italy and death camps. While it was not what I expected I found it to be a fascinating book none the less. The episodes in the book are ...more
Doug
Feb 20, 2012 Doug rated it liked it
The last five days of WWII as seen through the eyes of an eclectic variety of people- from private soldiers to heads of state. It was interesting to read of the wartime experiences of people who went on to become household names - Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Dole, Kurt Vonnegut, Gunter Grass, Joseph Heller and Roman Polanski to name just a few. The almost total absense of Eisenhower was interesting - one assumes that he must have been up to something during those days. This was a rather ...more
Jody
Jul 10, 2012 Jody rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The back cover says this one reads like a suspense novel and that is a correct summary. I found this one way more interesting than the western I was reading at the same time. This is one of those books that takes history and presents it in a way so you don't fall asleep while reading it. In other words, it isn't just one long list of dates and facts. I like history but I want to know more about the people than I do the date. It is people who make history not the calendar. I did end up googling ...more
BonnieL
Dec 21, 2014 BonnieL rated it really liked it
Grim, compelling, eyewitness accounts about the last days of the Third Reich and the manipulations, politics and chaos of that time. Not a pretty read but one that is hard to put down. This book relates the winding down of the War in Europe through personal accounts and it's a remarkably dificult read at times. The many histories of WWII and the end of the Reich. even at their best, are either sanitized or scholarly and often make war, its effects and aftermath remote. These, the stories of ...more
Beth - ;)
Dec 17, 2012 Beth - ;) rated it really liked it
This was a very intense book. It covered five days leading up to the end of WW2 with first-person accounts of those who lived through that time, many of them famous then and others who became famous later. I would have given it an extra star, had there been maps included. I am not familiar with German or other European geography, so did not know just where the different towns and cities were located, in relation to what later became East or West Germany.

An epilogue at the end gives information
...more
Height76
Oct 29, 2013 Height76 rated it it was amazing
Five days that shocked the world reads like a novel and has been set out in chronological order. There is a sense of urgency to the way it reads, fast paced with some of the texts feeling slightly abbreviated but in doing so Best has crammed in a lot of information and had me on the edge of my seat. Towards the end, a combination of the chronology and all the different characters became a bit of a challenge - I wasn't sure if Best was revisiting a character from a previous part of the book or ...more
Susan Paxton
Jun 14, 2012 Susan Paxton rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
There's not a lot new here history-wise, but Best has done a great job collecting stories about the last days of World War II in Europe from people who were well known at the time, people who were just there, and people who would someday become well known (two future Popes and a future Archbishop of Canterbury among them - I had no idea Robert Runcie was a tank troop commander and an MC). The organization dots around a little, but all in all this is an enjoyable read about five days that must ...more
Tami Porter-jones
Aug 25, 2013 Tami Porter-jones rated it really liked it
This book was packed with fascinating details. However it was a bit of a dry read. The author tries to be pretty clever by mentioning names that I ended up googling. At the end of the book, he gives a summary and ties those names to their current positions in modern day. I think it would have been more fascinating to give those updates as the book progressed. There were parts that definitely dragged, but it was worth reading just to find out the information.
Suketus
Kiivastahtinen ja näkökulmilla leikittelevä, kevyehkön otteen tietokirja toisen maailmansodan viidestä viimeisestä päivästä. Lukija pääsee nopeasti vaihtuvissa "kohtauksissa" seuraamaan Mussolinin kuolemaa, Hitlerin romahdusta, keskitysleirien vapautusta, Berliinin valloitusta ja monia muita sodan viimeisten hetkien tapahtumaa. Aihepiiri on kiinnostava ja ote hyvin journalistinen, mutta toisaalta kirja on paikoin puuduttava, vaikka se pyrkii vahvaan dynaamisuuteen.
Natasha
Feb 11, 2014 Natasha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history buffs
A seriously awesome book. I've read a lot of books about WWII over the years but this is quite different. The range of characters covered by the book is impressive in itself, but what the book really brings home is just chaotic things were in the last few days of the war. Best's writing brings a light touch to momentous events; he doesn't interfere with too much commentary or analysis, just lets the facts speak for themselves. Highly recommended
Matt
Jul 31, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
I really liked this book. Well written, had a bunch of good data and a great flow. Kept me engaged throughout.

Best does a nice job moving the story along while bouncing to different groups during the waning days of the German surrender.

From the liberation of the camps to the final hours before surrender, Best weaves in some great direct accounts as well. he also injects some nice surpsises and famous individual stories.

I give this one a solid 4 stars.
Iang95ify .
Feb 18, 2016 Iang95ify . rated it really liked it
Tells history from a first person view. Good mix of scenes featuring famous figures like Mussolini, Hitler as well as individuals (which would have significant influence on the world in the future) such as Henry Kissinger and Audrey Hepburn. Though the latter figures' scenes are few, but it makes you feel the emotions of the various characters in the book.
Tweedledum
Jul 23, 2014 Tweedledum rated it it was amazing
Skilfully weaving together eye witness accounts from the famous and the infamous Best has vividly brought to life again the shocking experience of the last days before VE Day. Reading this really helped me gain a deeper insight into both the enormity of the war and the importance of the individual's actions even in the most extreme of circumstances.
Kathi
Feb 21, 2015 Kathi rated it liked it
It was interesting to read about how different people reacted to the five last days of the European part of WW2 but I wouldn't rely on it if you were interested in the interaction between Hitler and the crazies who did his bidding. The author was clearly bothered by the actions of the Russian soldiers raping and pillaging as he mentioned it in almost every chapter.
Gloria Frankowski
Mar 06, 2013 Gloria Frankowski rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, favorites
Awesome book. Did you know where Audrey Hepburn was at the end of the war? Bob Dole? Leni Riefenstahl? I do! This book weaves together the last five days of WWII through the perspective of individuals who lived through it. Fresh material, well paced.
Art
Jan 02, 2014 Art rated it liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
A collection of accounts and events at the end of the war. Nothing really new here if you know the subject but could be a good overview or even start for research if you don't know the subject well. For me it was just okay but others may get more out of it.
Ryan Moore
Dec 09, 2014 Ryan Moore rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at five major dates in April and May 1945 in Europe. The stories that are told involve people we are all familiar with(Hitler, Goring, Donitz, Vonnegut, Benedict XVI). They are detailed without being overbearing and give you a sense of being there.
Lori
Jun 28, 2012 Lori rated it liked it
An interesting memoir of the final days of World War 2 as told by an assortment of people famous and not.

This is one of those books that repeatedly sends you to the internet so that you can research a historical figure or event a little bit deeper.
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195669
Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya and was educated there, in England and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked as a journalist in London before becoming a full time author.
His first novel ('As a satire on military bigotry and shambling officialdom, Where were you at Waterloo? is in places as sharp as Waugh and sometimes better' - Times Literary Supplement) was wri
...more
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