- Hardcover: 592 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (September 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594203148
- ISBN-13: 978-1594203145
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 138 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 Hardcover – September 8, 2011
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"Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[A]superb examination of the final defeat of Hitler's tyranny...an excellent portrait of the regime's death throes." — Booklist (starred review)
"This is an astonishing story well told by the reigning English-speaking master of Third Reich history...A carefully considered and powerfully told saga." — Kirkus (starred review)
About the Author
Ian Kershaw is the author of Fateful Choices; Making Friends with Hitler, which won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography; and the definitive two-volume biography of Hitler, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. The first volume was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, and the second volume won the Wolfson Literary Award for History and the inaugural British Academy Prize.
Top customer reviews
Unfortunately, this is not Kershaw's most engaging work and I agree with other reviewers who commented that the book feels repetetive in various chapters. No doubt a more astute editor would have made this a more focused work. Criticisms aside still worth a look.
The principal assignment he has taken on, however, is the mystery of why the Germans fought on to the last, long after it was clear to all but a fringe of hard core Nazi fanatics that the war was lost. He answers the puzzle through a combination of factors: Hitler's continuing charismatic hold on the loyalty of his top lieutenants; a tight and ruthless Nazi party command structure; the tradition of honor among military officers which emphasized fidelity to their oath of obedience; the brutal treatment (including summary execution) of soldiers considered cowards, deserters, or "laggards"; the fear instilled into civilians accused of defeatism or disloyalty; the fact that SS officers and Nazi officials believed that they had burned their bridges; the dread of barbarian Bolshevik hordes implanted by years of propaganda; and, not least, the work ethic, discipline, duty and deference to authority inherent in German culture.
Although a significant majority of Germans had become disillusioned and cynical about the Nazi leadership by the last months of the war, virtually all feared to make their true feelings known. Many top level German generals were particularly troubled. The orders they received directly from Hitler were frequently tactically stupid or irrational. But with few exceptions they followed his directions even while realizing the dire consequences that lay ahead. General officers who argued or suggested retreat were usually fired and replaced.
Kershaw has gathered much useful archival material including wartime military and bureaucratic documents, statistics, academic studies, diaries, letters, etc. Nonetheless, readers already familiar with some of the vast existing literature on the war will likely find little new or startling in this work. Kershaw has put together a good summary, though one seriously marred by wordiness and repetition. It is unfortunate that he lacked a competent editor wielding a sharp blue pencil. It would have been a far better book had its many inessential and repetitive passages, composing perhaps as much as a quarter of the text, been sliced off.