Member Review

Five Days that Shocked the World

Pub Date:

Review by

Andy L, Reviewer

Last updated on 21 Mar 2018

I Recommend This Book


The last few days of World War II are some of the more dramatic in history. Regimes were falling, old scores were being settled, and horrific chapters of history were being closed. Nicholas Best attempts to  capture some of this chaos, and includes the personal tales of some well-known people.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* Best writes in an informal and easy-to-read style. The book is relatively short, but the pages flew by and I found myself reading the book in just a few sittings. The book is organized chronologically, and includes events throughout Europe during the few days before Germany’s surrender.

* There seems to be little new information in the book. Rather, it is mostly a synthesis of information that had been previously published. That said, however, the book is a nice summary of events relating to the surrender of Germany, the attempted breakouts from the heart of Berlin, and the last actions of man of the Nazi and Fascist leaders from Germany and Italy.

* The book includes personal histories of a number of characters. Some of these are more relevant to the topic of the end of the war, but all are somewhat entertaining and interesting. The characters who share their war-end memories include show-business personalities, religious leaders and future political figures from a number of countries. 

=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===

* Toward the end, the book drags a bit. Once Hitler is dead, and the various Nazi leaders are fighting among themselves over succession, the actions become repetitive and somewhat uninteresting. I had read this material in other sources, so perhaps I would have found it more interesting if I hadn’t been exposed to it.

* There are not a lot of footnotes or references. The material certainly seems reasonably researched and in-line with what I have read previously, but it is not possible to follow the author’s trail of evidence. This is probably a minor point, since the book is more a “summary” than any attempt to shed new light on any events.

=== Summary===

The book is a nice summary of the events of the last few days of World War II in Europe. In includes the personal stories of a number of future “celebrities”, which mostly serve to make the story a bit more interesting. The book can be a bit gory and brutal, especially describing some of the violence that occurred during the last few days of the war. If you are reasonably well-read on this period history, there is not a lot of new information, but it is an reasonable and quick read.

=== Disclaimer ===

I was able to read an advance copy through the courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

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