SUNDAY TIMES HISTORY BOOKS OF THE YEAR & TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR The last months of the Second World War were a nightmarish time to be alive. Unimaginable levels of violence destroyed entire cities. Millions died or were dispossessed. By all kinds of criteria it was the end: the end of the Third Reich and its terrible empire but also, increasingly, it seemed to be the end of European civilization itself. In his gripping, revelatory new book Ian Kershaw describes these final months, from the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944 to the German surrender in May 1945. The major question that Kershaw attempts to answer is: what made Germany keep on fighting? In almost every major war there has come a point where defeat has loomed for one side and its rulers have cut a deal with the victors, if only in an attempt to save their own skins. In Hitler's Germany, nothing of this kind happened: in the end the regime had to be stamped out town by town with a level of brutality almost without precedent. Both a highly original piece of research and a gripping narrative, The End makes vivid an era which still deeply scars Europe. It raises the most profound questions about the nature of the Second World War, about the Third Reich and about how ordinary people behave in extreme circumstances.
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