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.
The 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.