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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

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  497 Ratings  ·  72 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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Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes readers through the short, but tumultuous, period at the end of WWII; from Saturday the 28th April to Wednesday, 2nd May, 1945. Events are really bookended by the deaths of Mussolini and the news of Hitler’s suicide, but take in an enormous amount of major political, and historical, events.

This is very much a popular history and the author uses a lot of very famous names (as well as those in the very middle of the action) and explains their part in events – these include Mussoli
Jun 27, 2016 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
Very good!
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs
Shelves: non-fiction, history
3.5 Stars

A big thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy, in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this was an incredibly fascinating book. It really made me research more based on what I read. I believe it is well-researched and this is exactly the sort of history non-fiction book I was after.

World War II is one of the areas of modern history that fascinates me the most. I thought this book was unique in that it focused on the last five days of the war and was focused on the eyewit
Filiz Demiral
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 th ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five Days That Shocked the World delivers many intriguing and powerful perspectives during the final days of World War 2 in this history novel. The Author, Nicholas Best, follows many personal accounts of those who lived through this period ranging from World Leaders to Soldiers fighting for their countries, and skillfully seams their stories together effectively so that they flow from one to another, creating an incredibly unique history novel.

Five Days That Shocked the World provides the read
This is one book that can make your head spin and will surely put a heavy weight on your soul. Most likely for a long time.
Jose Carlos
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La carne de la Historia: Cinco días que estremecieron al mundo, de Nicholas Best

Uno de los mayores problemas al aproximarse a la Segunda Guerra Mundial es la ingente bibliografía que existe. Varios cientos de volúmenes apilados en las estanterías de mi estudio así me lo recuerdan cada vez que intento quitarles el polvo o buscar una referencia. No en vano, es uno de los temas sobre los que más se ha escrito, algo realmente notable si pensamos que sólo duró seis años. Pero el impacto que tuvo el c
Feb 25, 2014 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
Aug 20, 2013 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 first-han ...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.

Sep 15, 2012 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
Tami Porter-jones
Aug 25, 2013 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.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, 2018ng
Note - I am reviewing the updated edition of this book with ISBN 9781786080318.

I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher -
In the five momentous days from April 28 to May 2, 1945, the world witnessed the death of two Fascist dictators and the fall of Berlin. The execution of Benito Mussolini, the suicide of Adolf Hitler, and the fall of the German capital signaled the end of the four-year war in the European Theater
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historia
This is not a history of the last days of the war in Europe. You don't learn much about troop movement, military strategies or high-level political manoeuvres, but you do get exposed to individual stories of people caught in the chaos. Fleeing Nazis, Germans, prisoners of war, etc. Most were very famous then (Himmler, Mussolini, Bormann, etc.) or would be very famous in the future (Ratzinger, Loren). Some of them were not that obvious for me and I had to research a bit. This could have been avoi ...more
Rómulo Soto Díaz
Tengo una curiosa admiración por Hitler como personaje, únicamente por el hecho de como un sólo hombre logró llevar al mundo por algunos años, a un punto de balance trágico. El tema de la 2da. guerra mundial despierta en mi mucha curiosidad, carente de morbo por cierto.

Este es el primer libro que, al empezar a leer su epílogo, sentí la nostalgia y pena de la despedida de una persona querida, que estará lejos de uno por un tiempo, pero que seguirá entre nosotros. Descubrí no pocas cosas durante l
arzu kutlu
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See how people can be monsters. See how can people bundle to their ideology and do everything with leaving back their humanity. 😕
Sasha (whispersofthesilentwind)
review to come.
K. D. Hanson
Aug 20, 2014 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 18, 2014 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 o ...more
May 05, 2012 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 o ...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 t ...more
Feb 14, 2012 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 un ...more
Jun 29, 2012 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 s ...more
Dec 21, 2014 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 thos ...more
Beth - ;)
Dec 09, 2012 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
Oct 05, 2013 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 es ...more
Susan Paxton
Jun 14, 2012 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 in ...more
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.
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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 about Nicholas Best