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Fateful Choices

Ten Decisions that Changed the World, 1940-1941
Narrated by: Barnaby Edwards
Length: 24 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: History, Second World War
5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ian Kershaw's Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-41 offers a penetrating insight into a series of momentous political decisions that shaped the course of the Second World War.

The hurricane of events that marked the opening of the Second World War meant that anything could happen. For the aggressors there was no limit to their ambitions; for their victims a new Dark Age beckoned. Over the next few months their fates would be determined.

In Fateful Choices Ian Kershaw re-creates the 10 critical decisions taken between May 1940, when Britain chose not to surrender, and December 1941, when Hitler decided to destroy Europe's Jews, showing how these choices would recast the entire course of history.

Ian Kershaw (b. 1943) was Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield from 1989 to 2008 and is one of the world's leading authorities on Hitler. His books include The "Hitler Myth"; his two-volume biography Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis; and Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941. He was knighted in 2002.

©2008 Ian Kershaw (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Powerfully argued...important...this book actually alters our perspective of the Second World War." (Andrew Roberts)
"A splendidly lucid and impeccably argued exposition of the greatest political decisions of the Second World War." (Max Hastings)
"A compelling re-examination of the conflict...Kershaw displays here those same qualities of scholarly rigour, careful argument and sound judgement that he brought to bear so successfully in his life of Hitler." (Richard Overy)
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

A fascinating look into the events that lead to ww2 and definitely worth listening to if you want to understand the decisions that world leaders faced.

2 people found this helpful

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A great book

I enjoyed this book as it really shows every fateful turning point of history during or before WW2

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  • Athanasios Hristoulas
  • 27-04-2020

excellent evaluation of events

excellent evaluation of events that could have changed the course of the war. my favorite is Mussolini s mess when he tried to invade Greece

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  • Olivier
  • 11-04-2016

Fantastic Narrator, Barnaby Edwards

Incredibly detailed, sometimes to a fault. Arguable choice of the 10 decisions that Changed the World, with a big US emphasis. Still, overall, excellent material.

But, what I really want to stress is the fantastic job done by the narrator, Barnaby Edwards. I have listened to dozens of history books, most over the 15 hour mark, and enjoyed most of them, but rarely has the narrator made such a mark on me.

Barnaby Edwards reading is fast, but unfaltering. One does not feel rushed, but one feels that the reading speed is almost at the level of silent reading, with no loss to intelligibility. I would guess that, read by anyone else, the 25 hours of the book would have stretched by 1 or 2 hours.

Last, but certainly not least, Barnaby Edwards' pronunciation of the foreign names of a language I know (French, Italian and German) is excellent, neigh faultless. So many good books are massacred by readers who cannot pronounced foreign names that this deserves a special mention.

PS: I am not related to Barnaby Edwards in any manner.

16 people found this helpful

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  • mcsmall
  • 03-08-2018

Ian Kershaw:Excellent As Usual

Professor Sir Ian Kershaw is an outstanding scholar, but this is a slight deviation from his usual style.It is nonetheless well researched and brilliantly written
The narration assisted in providing clarity for the listener

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mr Peter Antony Clark
  • 23-09-2017

Brilliant

This is a stunning examination of WW11 and the choices that were made and the reasoning behind them. Puts the great conflict in a real context that will help the reader to more fully understand the war and it's futility

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 12-01-2020

An illuminating analysis of WW2s turning points.


I have read a lot of books about the WW2 era in my time, and it is a rare pleasure when one really enhances my understanding of what happened and why.

I think the great value of a book like this is to remind us that the issues leaders have to contend with are always much clearer in hindsight than they were at the time, and we should be very careful before passing simplistic judgements of "so-and-so should have done x not y".

Kershaw also warns against putting too much emphasis on the personality of the men in key positions. Although he certainly accepts that indviduals do matter and they were not simply pawns of fate, he also reminds us that the major factors influencing their decisions would have applied whoever was in the hot seat at the time. It is also striking how unified the power-elites often were in their choices, no matter what they may have written after the war to try and excuse themselves. There was for example, surprisingly little opposition in the Japanese ruling class to the assumption that imperial expansion must continue, even at the cost of war with a vastly more powerful enemy. No one seriously proposed reigning in their expansion even temporarily, to avoid a wider conflict.

The author also had the good manners to add an final chapter that summerizes and discusses the main ground he has covered. Which is something I always appreciate at the end of a long, fact-heavy book.

I have a suspicion that Ian Kershaw quite likes counter-factual speculation, but also worries he might not be taken seriously if he does any. At various points in this fascianting tome, he flirts with alternative possible scenarios, only to quickly tell himself off for doing so and remind the reader that it's not what proper historians should be doing. For some reason I found that rather endearing.

The narrator is good too. Clear, and well paced.

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  • Luc S.
  • 21-06-2019

Good and bad moments

This is not Ian Kershaw’s best book.
Some good moments where followed by bad chapters, being an avid reader of multiple books about WW II there where few surprises.
Kershaw’s explanation of some of the choices where not up to the standard that I expect from the writer of some of the real classics of WW II literature.
The narration by Barnaby Edwards was spot on though and helped me through some of the difficult moments of the book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • S Jones
  • 05-01-2018

Challenge your beliefs

Loved it. Opens your eyes to the complexities of the war situation and the importance of the leaders, their personalities and beliefs. Makes it clear there were other choices but highlights the ways in which these decisions were at times almost inevitable.

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  • TIM JARVIS
  • 27-04-2016

Superb History

An excellent analysis of what happened in WW2 by examining critically what might have been and what other options were available to the key players.

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  • Thomas J Bachrach
  • 24-07-2019

Kershaw shows his usual quality

Edwards is a great narrator.
I felt Kershaw repeated himself a fair amount without reason several times, but overall his writing is the historiography-shaping quality belied by his reputation. Also, the frequent belittling of counterfactual history was also unnecessary.

1 person found this helpful