So much of the story we have of the horrors of mid-century Europe are about the crimes conducted in the name of Hitler. Fair enough, they were unparalleled. But other wise less considered were the horrors experienced by the German people as they realised the crimes conducted in their names, and the vicious punishment meted out by advancing allied - particularly a seemingly systematic campaign of rape sweeping westward by Russian troops. No country comes out of this conflict smelling sweet. As well as the personal horrors, the book details a litany of failures on all sides to curtail the war, and missed opportunities to curtail Soviet expansionism as England and the US seemed to be either fearful of, or naïve about Stalin's motivations. The use of comments (presumably from interviews or secondary sources) and letters of soldiers adds poignancy. However I was unclear where the source of quotes from dead high-ranking Nazis came from ('Let's be quick,' said Goebbels. 'We're short of time.') This often jarred with a sense of reconstructed history in an otherwise compelling and well-researched account. I gave four out of five stars, only because its sweep left me at times bewildered as to who all the myriad of characters were. But as a complaint, it is only that so much of this period is presented in one volume.