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An Excellent Passover Read

I’m just back from a Passover ski vacation — I, my immediate family, and a passel of Israeli cousins all went to the French Alps for a week to frolic in the snow. My kids took to skiing like four-foot Lindsey Vonns and Bode Millers, but I spent the week safely indoors, watching a huge quantity of snow fall outside while knitting mittens and drinking thick French hot chocolate, which goes better with matzah than you might expect.

As Ricochet old hands already know, I’m an avid consumer of audiobooks, and there is really no better opportunity to listen to a book than while knitting at a ski lodge in the French Alps. After consultation with the Ricochetti I selected The Storm of War, a history of World War II by Andrew Roberts.

Coventry-Cathedral-Nov.-14-1940-AP-Photo.jpgThe book is superb, and the narration by Christian Rodska is riveting. He nails all the myriad voices involved in the long and awful tale — Churchill, Hitler, Montgomery, Patton, Russian generals, British servicemen of all classes and backgrounds, the list goes on.

As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s quite intense to spend hours a day for a week straight with a detailed history of a devastating world war being piped into your ears, and it had quite an effect on me. I had never really tried before to fully absorb the sheer scale of the carnage of that conflict, and I find myself haunted by it — by the sheer physical difficulty and danger of the Normandy landing, by the vicious retribution of the Russian army when they invaded Berlin, by the horror of the fate of American sailors who had the misfortune to be captured and taken aboard Japanese submarines, by the fortuitousness of Hitler’s fateful strategic blunders (how different the world might be had he possessed any of Churchill’s willingness to listen to advice), by the mutual loathing of the generals on the Allied side and Eisenhower’s ability to manage their outsized personalities — it goes on and on. I’m not quite done with the 29-hour-long audiobook — I’m up to Okinawa — but am left above all with an immense gratitude that I was not yet born when the conflict took place, that my grandmother got out of Bessarabia well before it began, and that, at a time almost unimaginably dark, the good guys managed to win.

It’s a book well worth reading and/or listening to at this season of thanksgiving for deliverance from tyranny. Also check out our own Peter Robinson’s interview with the author here

  1. A Beleaguered Conservative

    Happy Passover Levy.  I have just placed The Storm of War  on my Amazon Wish List.  It sounds like an important book that will shed a great deal of light on the war.  Thanks for the review.    

  2. SteveS

    Thank you for your post reminding me of how much I enjoyed the book last year after seeing the interview Peter did on the author.

  3. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    Blessed Passover, and thank you for this recommendation.

  4. Mollie Hemingway

    Mostly this just makes me want to vacay with the Levys.

  5. Trink

    It’s not often, at my age, that I’m drawn toward deep accounts of war.

    Your happy vacation details aligned with the serious nature of that book . . . almost creates a longing.  I imagine your mention of the Normandy invasion is a catalyst.  Dad was there.

    And yes, Happy Passover Judith.

  6. Mr Tall

    Totally agreed, Judith; The Storm of War is excellent. I reviewed it here if anyone is interested.

  7. tabula rasa

    You can add me to the list of people who strongly recommend The Storm of War, or anything else by Roberts (I own the book, but also listened to it).  Roberts’ work is excellent, and he’s prolific too.

  8. Vance Richards

    Next year in the Alps!

  9. Copperfield

    Thanks for the recommendation, Judith.  Just downloaded it from Audible.com.  Nice touch having a Brit read it.  Somehow, that just seems right.  I’m a big fan of audiobooks as well.  Listen on the daily commute, on trips, when running, etc, and have been a member of Audible.com for nine years.  My favorite book from them is probablyDavid Copperfieldby Charles Dickens, read by Martin Jarvis.  If you’re in the mood for literature, for my money it just doesn’t get any better. 

    Thanks again.  Cheers! 

  10. HVTs

    Thanks for reminding me of item number 72 on my list of not-yet read must-reads (sigh).  Were you not tempted to strap on some sticks to conduct imaginary spec ops somewhere near the heavy water production plant in Norway circa 1943?  I’m thinking hot chocolate and matzah is just part of your elaborate cover story. Very cleaver . . .

  11. Duane Oyen

    All those rich people relaxing in their Swiss Alps lodges while we shovel snow on grimy driveways back here…………….