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The Story of World War II

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  561 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Drawing on previously unpublished eyewitness accounts, prizewinning historian Donald L. Miller has written what critics are calling one of the most powerful accounts of warfare ever published. Here are the horror and heroism of World War II in the words of the men who fought it, the journalists who covered it, and the civilians who were caught in its fury. Miller gives us ...more
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Published August 1st 2012 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1991)
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4.43  · 
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 ·  561 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Linda Lou McCall
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought I had "WW II'd" myself into a coma, listening to or reading more than 50 books and watching a kazillion documentaries and online videos about World War II in the past year. I was just about to pass on this 25 hour account when I became outraged by one of the written reviews. While giving the book an overall favorable review, without the 5-star rating of the other written reviews, this listener claimed that her only criticism was that the book overdid the contributions of African-Americ ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
My rating here is really three and a half stars. This is a good book with some qualifications.

I think a more accurate title for this book would be “The Story of America’s Involvement in World War II.” An attempt is made to include every part of the Second World War but it really is very heavily weighted toward the American point of view. If the war had been covered based on the size and significance of each part, most of this book would be about the Eastern front in Europe. I don’t fault the au
Morgan Blackledge
This is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a book titled the Story of WWII.

It's a broad compendium of the important events from the different theaters, major battles and important figures in WWII.

Lots of cool little excerpts from the perspective of different political leaders, generals, field commanders, soldiers and civilians.

Lots of big insights about the extreme hardships people can endure and what kinds of bonds people can form under such conditions.

Lots of really gross, really grap
Review of the audiobook narrated by Michael Kramer.

It's been over a year since I listened to this book but it is still one that I think about frequently, more so now (December 2018) that I'm in the middle of a book on World War I. This is one of the least reviewed books of any that I have read on Goodreads and I think that it deserves a written review so that hopefully it can get more recognition.

This is the only nonfiction book that I have read which covers World War II so I don't have anything
Ben Chapman
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
"The Story of World War II" taught me a lot about the great war of nations. Great, of course, in the sense that even still it's hard to believe that the whole thing actually took place in a space in time, less than a hundred years ago. And that, though now few, there are survivors still with us to tell the tale.

As an old 82nd Airborne paratrooper myself, I went into this book with little knowledge, very little actually, of some of the airborne operations and fighting that took place in Europe.
Thomas Umstattd Jr.
You have to admire an author for trying to capture all of WWII in one book. I think he does an admirable job of giving a good overview of America's involvement. The author glosses over the Eastern Front which is where most of the fighting was but to be fair to the author he tells us in the introduction that the focus is on America.

If you wanted one book to cover all of WWII I could not think of a better place to start than here.
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
This book encompasses the entire war and is, for the most part, organized chronologically. Much of the narrative, probably about 1/3, is dedicated to quoting the soldiers, airmen and reporters who participated in the various campaigns. Because of the extensive use of first-hand accounts, the book has a very personal feel to it. The book was originally written by Henry Steele Commanger shortly after the war and was revised and extended by Donald Miller in the 2000's.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating. I never realized how little I really knew about the Second World War, but the reality is that I only had a broad understanding of the major events of the war. The book takes a more human approach to telling the story by using letters, interviews, and other writings from the people who were there. You learn about the major events and battles of the war and then the author takes you into the minds of the people who were there and fought in those battles. By the end, I kn ...more
Pankaj Kumar
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love history in general, but this book just raises the bar a bit higher. It covers the era from the beginning of the World War 2 to the very end when Japan surrenders. Loved the details the book captures, it takes the reader in a journey of fear, sheer amazement, anger and pity. Even though the book is a collection of true stories, one will find the descriptions hard to believe.
But yes, as Michael Scott rightly puts it in "From Democrats to Kings" - history is always like looking out from a w
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book is somewhat misleading, it should read "The Story of America's World War II". Little to no attention is paid in other fronts of the war. The book is very heavily biased by America's perspective of the war, which agreeably makes sense since most of content is comprised of interviews from American soldiers. There are many instances of "America's Triumphant Moments" in effort to glorify the impact they had on war, but it leaves readers with the impression that they were the o ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Reading a history that was written so close to the events described reminds me of WWII as it was told to me by people who experienced it. The history gives a picture that reminds me of how it was viewed in my childhood in the 1970s when memory was still fresh. There was a lot of emphasis on the battles and the morality of the war seemed crystal clear with good guys and bad guys. There is a description of battles about allied loses in the beginning and the slow turning of the tide. It is an Ameri ...more
If all history books were as fascinating as this one, I would never read anything else.

This book was excellent. Its focus on a vast array of firsthand accounts made huge historical events vivid and immediate, and allowed me to get a sense for what WWII was like in the moment, without taking for granted that an Allied victory was a foregone conclusion.

It's almost absurd to say this about a 700 page book, but I think it ended a tad abruptly. I would have wanted more than one or two accounts of th
Patricia Mann
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly heart-wrenching, encompassing story of the most inhuman experience of the human race. It's unbelievable that it was actually a World War and so many people died because of the megalomania and insanity of so few. I now understand why my dad never wanted to talk about his experiences with his family, none of us would have believed what he saw and had to do to survive. Let's hope this never happens again.
Teri Pre
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
This is a great "Understanding WW2 For Beginners" book. If you've only read fictional accounts of the war, this is the perfect way for you to dip into non-fiction. Since I've read quite a few books about this war, I found myself saying "I know the story behind that little bit of information."
John Jessee
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I've always wanted to take some time to truly understand this war a bit better. After all, I have two Uncles that served (one in Europe and one in the Pacific). I'm not really sure where to begin. To hear the stories of what happened during WWII is heart-wrenching, infuriating, inspiring, and above all, sobering.

The book is written largely in a chronological format, explaining mostly the American participation in the war. That being said, there are plenty of first-hand accounts that keep the boo
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2019
This WW2 book was different than others I've read. It covered the bigger picture war in an easy narrative style, mixed with very specific, graphic, and riveting first-hand accounts. For example, the author would describe the Iwo Jima campaign in big-picture terms and then share first-hand accounts. I liked the mix of big picture and very specific details.

I got the sense that the book might be a bit confusing without a general understanding of the framework of WW2 but I can't say for sure. And It
Fred Lombardo
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With every book on World War II that I have read, I always gain new insights. While at the start of this book I thought I would be disappointed with the less than nitty gritty details I appreciate; I came to realize that given the scope of what this book covers, and as I got further into it, I found the details more than satisfactory. Many readers of specific history find a great many events rehashed and repeated. I think that is to be expected in such a narrow, relatively speaking, focus of the ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent summation of the entirety of the Second World War. From the initial German aggression to the bombing of Nagasaki Donald Miller's updated version of this book is made personal with accounts from combatants on the ground, sea and air. In this way he covers all of the major events and their impact on the war as a whole and also on the people who fought and were affected by them. An aspect I was appreciative of was that he avoids revisionist history. He conveys the attitudes an ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This was a wonderful beginner's read of an expansive and complex war. The way the subject matter is organized both chronologically and by region made it easy for me to make a list of narrower topics that I can choose from when I choose another book. Because of its nature, however, it is obvious that certain aspects of the war got reduced and lost some of their complexity in the descriptions so that Miller could touch a bit on everything. I also really liked how the author really focuses on the c ...more
Matthew Macmartin
After consuming many books and documentaries on WW2 over the years, I went into this assuming it would be a rehash of more of the same. How very wrong i was.

The entire book is crafted from 1st hand accounts collected out of journals, interviews etc from the folks who were at every pivotal event throughout the war.

While the European theatre was described very much as one has heard about it, but the description of the Pacific theater blew my mind. I had never heard it described in this manner and
R Fontaine
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
After reading The Story of World War II,'m quite sure that I will never loosely use the term 'war' again. The various 'wars' on drugs,poverty,opiods etc.are serious,but none pack the sheer horror and sacrifice of the men & women who fought in the European and Pacific battles.
471,000 were killed, many dying unthinkable deaths, while many more were seriously injured.
The history, giving separate detailed-attention to the defeat of Nazi horror, and the incredibly bloody
defeat of Japan are incre
Mithlesh Kumar
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why should you read the book ! Because it gives the account from both sides and more importantly it makes you feel as if you are a part of the story and have your stake in every single battle.

Most of the people know that it all started with Germany and France + Britain but it ended with Japan and United states + 2 Atom bomb. But if you want to understand the roots you have to read this. It also tells you the cause effect relationship in war time and strategies. While reading this book, you go b
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you for all the accounts collected in this book and thank you for bring it onto Audible. For one it's a 26hours of intense listening experience, also I feel my WW2 knowledge has been improved so much after finishing this book. It's really helpful to be able to see things on an different angle during the war. This book had so many forgotten stories of WW2 which should have been taught to us in school. Even by listening to it made me wet my eyes many times. Now it would be hard for me to fin ...more
David Horton
May 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
Not a story of World War II at all. Rather, it a chronological collection of stories of Americans in battle. All the other countries are portrayed as either brutal sadists, mad marauders, inept fuddy-duddies or naive colonials. America, or more accurately American armies, in this version, save the day time after time after time, even when it is they who need saving. I don't doubt that this book, presented in this way with such a title, bothers a large section of the reading pubic not in the leas ...more
Recently, as I work my way through American history, I've read a lot of books about the people and events surrounding WWI and WWII. There are countless reading options on the intriguing people and events during these war periods, but this book is the only one that falls into the "must read" category for me.

It truly is a "story" of WWII, where the authors go through the chain of events, interspersing soldier accounts of battles/conditions/morale throughout the entire book. One doesn't need to be
Robert B
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ive read a ridiculous amount of world war 2 subject matter and none compare to this. I love Kershaw, Hastings, Beevor and Ambrose, but Miller takes the cake with this comprehensive yet concise look at the great war and its effects on the world. He does a great job of showing a broad overview and still finds a way of telling the stories of french natives and Philippine victims of the axis. Bravo Miller, you have made the all encompassing book about the most complex event of the 20th century while ...more
Joe Dickerson
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book follows the details of the war pretty well, giving great first-hand accounts. The only complaints I have is that there was no time devoted to the LCS(L) ships and their contribution to the Pacific or the battle for Castle Itter, the last battle of the European theater where Germans and Americans fought side-by-side against the SS. There small issues in no way detract from the five stars score.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a tough book to take in. The horrific details of what people faced in WW2 was both informative, detailed and horrific.

If you want an in depth look at what so many men and women faced in battle this is the book for you.

I’m grateful for books like this that carry such a rich depth of personal encounter with the horror of war. May we never forget the sacrifice that other made so we could have the freedom we have today, and may we never again find ourselves in such a state.
Brad Kirbyson
Excellent book and a great compilation of the American experience in the war. A couple of things kept this from being a 5/5 or even a 4/5 for me: There was too much focus on the Pacific War, and I felt like the European conflict got kind of short shrift from this author, and too many personal stories. Some of the stories are very powerful and enhance the power of the story; others are repetitive or unremarkable
Chris Fong
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. An incredibly detailed overview of the US involvement in WW2. My favorite part of this book is the extensive use of primary accounts - some of them sentences long, and some pages long. I am excited to use this in my classroom.

My only criticism is that very little time was spent on domestic issues during the war Internment camps are mentioned for 1-2 pages. I understand the book focused on the war itself, but the story of the war cannot fully be told by omitting domestic issues.
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Dr. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College and an expert on World War II, among other topics in American history. Three of his eight books are on WWII: D-Days in the Pacific (2005), the story of the American re-conquest of the Pacific from Imperial Japan; Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany (2006); and The Sto ...more