Named Book of the Year by the Sunday Times, TLS, Spectator, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail and Scotland on Sunday, Ian Kershaw's The End is a searing account of the final months of Nazi Germany, laying bare the fear and fanaticism that drove a nation to destruction.
In almost every major war there comes a point where defeat looms for one side and its rulers 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 an almost unprecedented level of brutality.
Just what made Germany keep on fighting?
Why did its rulers not cut a deal to save their own skins?
And why did ordinary people continue to obey the Fuhrer's suicidal orders, with countless Germans executing their own countrymen for desertion or defeatism?
'Nuanced and sophisticated ... undoubtedly a masterpiece' - Mail on Sunday
'Gripping yet scholarly ... the best attempt by far to answer the complex question of why Nazi Germany carried on fighting to total self-destruction' - Antony Beevor, Telegraph
'Masterly ... Kershaw's gripping and boldly intelligent work of scholarship ... will surely become the standard account of the Nazi system's terrible final phase' - Financial Times
'Brilliant ... utterly terrifying' - Sunday Times, Books of the Year
Kershaw, author of the definitive biography of Hitler, is unsurpassed as an analyst of the Third Reich's inner dynamics. His latest work addresses a question as significant as it is overlooked. The Third Reich fought to a self-destructive finish--something rare in war's history. Kershaw's narrative approach establishes the nuances of "an integrated history of disintegration." It begins with the aftermath of the July 20, 1944, attempt on Hitler's life: the final internal turning point for the Nazi regime. It continues through German reactions to the Wehrmacht's summer collapse in the west and the Red Army's autumn penetrations into Germany, through the ephemeral optimism generated by the Ardennes counter-attack, to the final overrunning of the Reich and the regime's desperate response of unprecedented domestic terror. Kershaw makes short work of the argument that German resistance was sustained because of Allied demands for unconditional surrender. Nor did the people back the regime from conviction. The majority of Germans had no alternative. Raw terror, an officer corps willing to fight for the homeland, and Hitler's demonic personality were the Reich's sustaining pillars--and its instruments of self-destruction. Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation.