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The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945
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The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  539 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The companion volume to the magnificent seven-part PBS series

The individuals featured in this audiobook are not those of historians or scholars. They are ordinary men and women who experienced–and helped to win–the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost.

Focusing on the citizens of four towns–Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, Calif
Audio CD, Abridged, 0 pages
Published September 11th 2007 by Random House Audio (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,122)
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I haven't actually seen Ken Burns' PBS series The War to which this is a "companion book." The written work survives alone, but it did, at times, feel scattered. It's intended to give you a variety of perspectives from "everyday" people from across the United States, and it does manage to capture a wide range of voices. It's a good book (three stars is, after all, more than half), especially if you're looking for something short and sweeping. However, having recently read the likes of Corneli ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I listened to the audio version of this book on eight CDs. It's abridged, but I wouldn't have known it if it didn't say so on the case. This book gave me a very thorough education about World War II, "The Big Picture." I've read a lot about the war before, but it was usually about specific areas only. This book gave me a clear understanding of what was happening on all the different fronts (including the home front). It switches back and forth from Europe to the Pacific (and a little of Africa), ...more
Wonderfully done - informative, sometimes heartbreaking. The companion to the Ken Burns video documentary, which is every bit as good as the one he made on the Civil War almost a generation ago. As the title indicates, and like that earlier work, this tells the story of the war primarily from the point of view of the ordinary men and women who served in it and their families rather than of the heads of state, generals, and admirals on whom histories have more often focused. In this case, unlike ...more
Jack Lehnen
Jan 13, 2008 Jack Lehnen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
A very good book and gives great individual insight into mens personal war as well as the larger picture. Missed the PBS series but it is coming out in CD soon . I watched the cD and was glad I read the book first. The book has things in it the CD series does not, and the CD goes a bit too fast through such important points and events in history
Decent narrative of the war, interspersed with vignettes to make it more interesting/ personalized. But over all, mediocre. Abbreviated and very much failed to capture the same feeling, poignancy of the televised series. So, I say skip the book and watch the documentary instead.
Mary Louise Sanchez
I never saw the Ken Burns special but did enjoy reading about the lives of forty people who lived the World War II years from 1941-1945 and were from four towns around the United States. One of the highlighted voices was of former Senator Daniel Inouye, who recalled his life serving in the Japanese American unit, the 442nd. I would have appreciated a Mexican American voice, since one of the highlighted towns was Sacramento, California, but I did appreciate the mix of civilians, women, and servi ...more
Andrew Liptak
Over the weekend, I picked up the companion book for Ken Burn’s The War, written by Burns and longtime collaborator Geoffrey C. Ward. The book, along with other companion books, is a literary mirror to the multiple hours long documentaries that Burns is well known for producing and writing. The War is a 14 hour long documentary that’s to air on PBS starting September 23rd. The book is an outstanding and highly detailed look at the Second World War.
The War is practically comprehensive. Covering a
An average or slightly above WWII history. Using the 'oral history' techniques of interviews and journals, letters, and even a screenplay or two, the authors create a living memoir of those who were there and fought the war.

The summary or encapsulations of the events of WWII in this book are 'common knowledge' type for the most part and don't by themselves shed any new light or add unusual anecdotes. There are poignant personal stories and a few incidents brought to light again in this work that
Justin Tapp
This looks at the war from more of the "common man" standpoint. Burns follows several different soldiers from their small towns to the battlefront. He tells the war from the viewpoint of places like Mobile, Alabama as well as the front. I liked that approach, but the later chapters are mostly just war with very little mention of life at home.

This book isn't looking to expose new facts about the war, or tell stories you haven't already read about or seen in movies. He leaves out a lot, and just f
This is a book about people. It is about the people who saved the world, but also the people and families behind the obvious historical monument.

The first line of this book should be; I don’t know what you thought about those who obligated themselves and sacrificed to save the world but…

It is books such as this, that grant a view of the humanity behind the history, that should be read and reread by all generations. Much of what occurs today is fashioned by those ignorant of the actual contributi
This book accompanies the Ken Burns documentary series of the same name. Much of the text and photographs are directly from the series as well, but the book does go into more detail in many aspects than the film series. The photographs and narrative show the absolute massive scope of the second world war and the profiles of individual towns and people make it much more emotional and relatable. When you look at the size and power of the enemy and how much was at stake, you see that the second wor ...more
This book blew me away. I don't know what your American History classes were like in high school, but by the time June rolled around in my class, we hadn't made it past the Great Depression. Blame it on snow days or slow-witted students, but I know next to nothing about post-1930s history. Thank goodness a work project required me to read this book. THE WAR goes far beyond its service as a companion book to Ken Burns's upcoming PBS documentary—poring through startling photographs and unforgettab ...more
I have to admit that I mostly got this for the wonderful pictures. There are those that are wonderfully moving and those which (of the dead) are quite shocking.

I like the general idea (taking the lives of a few and following them through the war.) That part of the narrative which I did read was well done.
Did you see how many pages this has? A kajillion! That's why I haven't posted any reviews for a month. Plus, I'm a little bit lazy. This is terrific but sobering close up look at World War II from the American perspective. Told by several different people who were soldiers, doctors, medics, girlfriends, family members etc.. using personal interviews, letters, telegrams, journal entries and more. A gripping story that takes you from Europe to Africa and the Pacific theater. So hard to read and di ...more
Wow - this is emotionally stirring, informative, and powerful. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in realizing how truly overwhelming this war felt to those on the ground as they were led by both good and failable leaders.

While we are currently engaged in war, I am reminded of a saying I hear often among Marines: "The Marines are at war, America is at the mall." We have nothing to compare to the WWII experience within our generation. I challenge you to read about the bleak emotional lan
Please read this book. It is a very intense, personal telling of war and what the soldiers endured. With more and more of our WWII veterans passing every day, we need to honour them by remembering and gaining some idea, however small, of what they endured for our country - for our freedom.
Such an amazingly powerful collection of actual accounts from servicemen during WWII. Some parts of this book are so difficult to learn about, yet are so vital to our lives, our history, our sense of who we are as Americans. This is moving and a must for anyone who loves America and wants to understand why our freedom is so important. It made me appreciate what my 2 grandfathers did and went through so much better.

For a more powerful look at this history, watch the PBS documentary upon which thi
This huge book, filled with stunning pictures, both benefits & suffers from the constraints that Ken Burns & the makers of the PBS miniseries put on themselves - track people from 4 different towns throughout the U.S. (Sacramento, Mobile, Luwerne, Waterbury) through WW2.

It really is an intimate portrait of war, this particular war, and how it impacted families & towns here in the U.S. At the same time, the intimate focus of the book would make the flow of the war difficult to follow
This is a companion book to the Ken Burns special by the same name. It is full of great pictures. It follows the course of the war from the vantage point of a handful of families in the towns of Sacramento, CA, Waterbury, Conn, Mobile, AL, and Luverne, Minn. It is not a complete history of the war but it is an intimate portrait, mostly drawn from letters and journals that presents a compelling picture of ferocity and sacrifice from the perspective of regular Americans thrown into the war. In the ...more
Feb 02, 2008 Kathrynn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in WWII from U.S. point of view
There is a video series out by Ken Burns that goes with this wonderful, large, full of pictures WWII history book; seven disks in a neat case and I recommend them as well as this book. The series aired on PBS in September 2007...This is a great book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about WWII.

This isn't a boring history book; it tells about WWII through the eyes of 4 towns and their families in the United States. Reading the "true life" stories made me feel more "in" th
The key to this book is in the title: "intimate." As I enjoy history on the personal level, this was a very satisfying book to peruse. Stunning photos, of course, and full of insights into what living during this time was like. Unlike many WWII histories, it focussed on how folks back home lived during the war, as well as hapless civilians caught in the path of war. Narrowing the focus to residents of four towns was a fresh way to approach the subject. This is unapologetically an American view o ...more
Ronald Wise
As with most comprehensive books about World War II, I had trouble keeping track of the military leaders and battle sites. But in this book the stories of individuals, their families, and communites are followed during America's involvement in the conflict, which provides a much deeper sense of what it was like for the average American then. This book is also crammed with interesting photographs placed with the related text. This book came to my attention from its eleven-week stay on the New Yor ...more
My appreciation for, "The War," - which I remember -
my appreciation for, "The War," is colored additionally by the fact that I live now and did live at the time of the war only 30 miles from Luverne, MN, one of the four towns upon which Geoffrey Ward/Ken Burns focus. I shared this perspective on the war. I knew Al McIntosh, editor/columnist for the Rock County Star-Herald whose writing is featured in the book. Of course it is in no way important to live near a site featured in, "The War," to val
I listened to the spokenword CD from the library, which was an amazing tale that corresponds with the Ken Burns documentary about World War II. It tells stories of individuals from different parts of the U.S. and in the Phillipines to illustrate what happened during the war on a personal level. Then I checked out the hardcover book that I donated to the school library in memory of my mother so I could see the pictures that go with the stories I had listened to. This is an amazing book to read an ...more
Lori Anderson
An excellent accounting of WWII from the voices of those who were there. The photos were sobering and a reminder that wars are about real people following the orders of those who didn't always have the biggest of clues.

Lori Anderson

Web Site
Jim Vuksic
This history of World War II is told in first-person accounts by the soldiers, sailors, and marines who fought in in strange, unfamiliar lands and the civilians back home who served their country by contributing their time, money, spouses, sons, and daughters to the war effort. I believe that anyone who reads it will have a different perspective than they did before and a better appreciation for "the greatest generation".
Adam Denison
This book is an excellent overview of World War II as told through the eyes of soldiers from four U.S. cities: Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Mobile, Alabama; and Waterbury, Connecticut. The book not only details the battles of the war, but also gives the perspective of those who watched it unfold here at home. As I read the book it almost felt like I lived back in the 1940s. It's a powerful read.
Doug Long
Fascinating way to study World War II, through families in four U.S. towns. As with "The Civil War," the war inside is at least as interesting as the battle strategies or forms of warfare. I listened to this audiobook concurrently with watching the series on PBS, which was also excellent. I got lost once in awhile with war details, but I always got back on track when we had an individual's story to follow.
I listened to this book on CD and found it riveting. I learned thigs I had no idea about, including near the end of the war the Germans put together a team of veterans who had lost their hearing as a result of battle. They were called the Ear Battlion or something like that. Lots of little things like that were interest. Specially the blunders on both sides in both theatres of the war.
Absolutely amazing. It is an expensive book but well worth it. Not only is there a wealth of information in the text but there are so many vivid pictures that bring the war to the reader. This book is actually a companion the PBS series (which is out on DVD for about $100 right now) and the PBS series is just as great. This is a must read and a must own.
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Geoffrey Champion Ward is an author and screenwriter of various documentary presentations of American history. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1962.

He was an editor of American Heritage magazine early in his career. He wrote the television mini-series The Civil War with its director Ken Burns and has collaborated with Burns on every documentary he has made since, including Jazz and Baseball.
More about Geoffrey C. Ward...
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