Adam's Reviews > The Fall of Berlin 1945

The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor
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's review
Jan 15, 2009

really liked it
Read in January, 2009

Beevor made his name with his depiction of the catastrophe at Stalingrad in 1942-43. This book, dealing the final battles of the Third Reich around Berlin in 1945, is, by design, the bookend to that work. If you liked the first one, you will likely enjoy this one as well.

Beevor employs a remarkably smooth narrative voice that proves his command over a *huge* volume of sources culled from a period when source materials are fleeting at best. He interprets and makes comprehensible various army organizations and bureaucracies with ease. The book is also not simply a military history; it pays tribute to the ramifications of the prolonged conflict on everyday life of people caught in the crossfire. The horrors of the Holocaust, concentration camp life, slave labors, starvation, the massive number of rapes and the psychological torture of the war's end all receive attention where required. Finally, Beevor does an admirable job of covering events from a multitude of sources (American, British, Russian and German; impressive) and interviewed a number of people for new details on old stories. While the book took a while--too long for my taste--to get to the actual battle for Berlin, it was gripping the minute it did. In conjunction with the 'Downfall' (Die Untergang), Beevor's work presents as comprehensive a picture of Berlin's destruction in 1945 as is ever likely to exist. Maybe a bit too much rhetorical effort put forth to prove that Germans *and* Russians did bad stuff that Allies wouldn't have, but that's a pet peeve of mine more than any substantive criticism of the book as a whole.

As a sort of postscript, I would add that I found this book is more compelling--with evidence and in writing style--than Merridale's Ivan's War. Not quite the same topic, but they cover much of the same material and collaborated at least in part with primary material.
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