The Bitter Road to Freedom by William I. Hitchcock

The Bitter Road to Freedom

Americans are justly proud of the role their country played in liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny. For many years, we have celebrated the courage of Allied soldiers, sailors, and aircrews who defeated Hitler's regime and restored freedom to the continent. But in recounting the heroism of the "greatest generation," Americans often overlook the wartime experiences of European people themselves -- the very people for whom the war was fought. In thi...

Details The Bitter Road to Freedom

TitleThe Bitter Road to Freedom
Release DateOct 21st, 2008
PublisherFree Press
GenreWar, World War II, Nonfiction, History, European History

Reviews The Bitter Road to Freedom

  • WarpDrive
    A very interesting, balanced and at times confronting book that successfully tries to tackle the complex history of the liberation of Europe by the Allied powers. I found the nuanced, multi-faceted, well-researched, methodologically accurate and substantially propaganda-free approach by the author something really refreshing, and also something quite uncommonly found in books about this potentially touchy and an highly-sensitive subject even now,...
  • Susan
    Although I had a number of gripes about this book, I ended up deciding that it was a pretty important book. First the gripes:1. In the preface he suggests that the reason European nations chose not to participate with the US in the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq was that, having experienced WWII on their own soil and recognizing the terrible price paid by those liberated (as well as the difficulty of the liberators), European countries ha...
  • fourtriplezed
    The thing about rating a book under such a limited system such as a star rating is that on a personal level one can rate a classic as much as an obscure history tome. This is because in the end it is what one gets out of the book be it entertainment for the sheer enjoyment of a ripping yarn or for the information that is learnt. There have been plenty of fine books that I have learnt a lot from that I have rated highly but others have not. Fine. ...
  • Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎
    Absolutely wonderful book showing the human cost paid by the people of Europe during the Liberation from Nazi Germany occupation and its aftermaths. The book is organised in four parts: liberation of the west (France, Belgium and Netherlands), advance and victory in Germany (inc. Russian Army), the return home of refugees and the war relief efforts (UNRRA) and finally the holocaust. The author presents the material in a clear and organised manner...
  • Sue
    It's frankly impossible for anyone to understand and mentally process just how many people were irrevocably affected by the very act of Liberation in 1944-45. Whether it was due to the direct attack via bombings, reprisals by retreating Fascist forces, revenge taken by advancing Soviet forces, or the sheer masses of displaced people (POWs, conscripted labor, and those Jews who'd survived to see the end of the war) suddenly freed from camps across...
  • Kim
    A look at WWII from a non-American point of view. Instead of the typical, "We went over there, helped stop the madness, and lost so many of our own for a worthy cause" this book looks at the choas from the point of view of those noncombatants whose backyard the war was in. Perhaps the children of the European nations recieve more of this type of history than we do as Americans. It was eye-opening for me to hear of the trials that still existed ev...
  • William Webb
    This rating is for the audiobook.The book was balanced and covered a topic of importance to anyone who wants to understand the aftermath of World War Two in Europe. At times I found it a bit of a tough slog, but that was more a function of the material than the author.
  • carl theaker
    Author Hitchcock is like the coach, who being the father of the starathlete on the team, berates him continually to curry favor with theparents of the other less talented kids, and to show he's really a fairguy. The trials and tribulations of the peoples in German occupiedterritories during their liberation are the subject, the Armies of theUSA and Britain are the whipping boys for the author'sself-consciousness. The story is a valid, Author H...
  • J.M. Hushour
    A welcome corrective to the stale, orgasmic patriotic narrative of World War 2 which sees America's boys (white) kick the shit outta them fascist dogs! Oh, wait, Soviet casualties were 65 times that of America's? The Soviets basically destroyed the Nazi war machine? Just as many French civilians were killed by Allied...yes, you read that, right, Allied bombing on D-Day as US soldiers?If you're like me and are comfortable enough with your fealty t...
  • NancyHelen
    So often what we read when we read anything about the liberation of Europe in World War II is a story of heroics, gratitude and relief. This book provides a much needed antidote to that myth, describing the actual human cost of the liberation. It is really good to find out what happened after the history books finish and how the people on the ground experienced the end of the war. It puts things in perspective and perhaps emphasises the futility ...
  • Matthew Rohn
    Solid examination of case studies of the damage wrought as Europe was liberated from Nazi Germany, and has good if brief theoretical explanations in the introduction and conclusions, but the work would have been stronger if that theoretical work was woven throughout the book and different examples\case studies were more thoroughly interconnected into a cohesive whole
  • Steve Smits
    Themes of WWII military history (in Europe) are well-recognized by those with even the most casual interest. The astonishing perfidy of the German aggressors, the devastation wrought in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union followed by its massive counter offensive with millions of resuting casualties to its armed forces, the horrific murderousness of Germans directed at Jews and others, the story of the awakening of the American war machine and it...
  • Caroline
    The classic historical narrative of liberation in Europe at the end of World War II is one of celebration, thanksgiving, gratitude, relief. One thinks of images of joyful civilians throwing flowers at Allied jeeps, at soldiers being kissed by grateful young women, of celebrating crowds lining the streets in Paris and other cities. This narrative isn't inaccurate - far from it, all of these things did take place - but it isn't the entire story, an...
  • Mark
    Since I am interested in WWII books, I chose The Bitter Road to Freedom by William I. Hitchcock. It focusses where other histories often fail to mention or gloss over, namely the often horrible experiences of the civilians as their farms, village, towns and cities became battlefields. The experience of the guys doing the actual fighting are also gone into. What is not in the book except peripherally is much detail on command decisions. If you hav...
  • Vince
    The author covers different parts of the liberation experience in Europe during and after WW2. He makes many good points and trys to empathize with the civilan populations who traded the hell of Nazi occupation for either the hell of Russian occupation or an improved but far from idea occupation by the Americans. He's a bit critical of US and British war policy especially in regards to the bombings of population centers and the treatment of DPs. ...
  • Jon Harris
    For the first book of its kind, Hitchock does a decent job supporting his thesis that “Liberation was . . . both a glorious chapter in military history and a human tragedy of enormous scope." The weaknesses of the book are mostly on the periphery, though some fundamental assumptions must be challenged. First, while much of the carnage that took place in occupied countries was undeniably unjustified, little discussion is given to the possible ne...
  • Lana Hasper
    Stephen Kiernan’s excellent novel, "The Baker’s Secret", on the Allied invasion of Normandy from the French perspective motivated me to learn more about the end of the war in Europe. I am also always inspired by my Dad who spent over fours years in the army, landing on Utah Beach one month after the D-Day invasion. He was trained and assigned to locate, pump and purify drinking water for his company. He was always behind the front lines in su...
  • Vic Lauterbach
    This narrative history examines the plight of European civilians in 1944-45 and fills a major gap in WWII history for general readers. There's lots of good information here, and it's generally well organized. Readers like myself, who are already familiar with the final military campaigns in Europe, may want to skim some sections, but do so judiciously because some 'recaps' include material pertaining to the main topic. The tone ranges from schola...
  • David
    I have read many books on WWII and many of those cover the period from D-Day and the Normandy invasion through the final demise and surrender of Nazi Germany. What author William I. Hitchcock presents in The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe repeats much of the same material but his real focus throughout the book is the impact on the civilian populations who were killed and injured in large numbers by allied as wel...
  • Russel Henderson
    Perhaps not a good book, but an important one. It could be called revisionism, though none of his themes are particularly controversial. He just joins them to paint a picture that is less flattering, a cold shower of sorts. Even casual readers of the war's history know strategic bombing was a brutal tactic of dubious efficacy, and most realize that civilians in occupied countries were victimized by Allied bombs too. His history of the East is sca...
  • Martin
    A good book- but a real chore to read. And this is a book strictly for adults, for literally everything discussed within its pages might be considered very mature. This is the story of the Liberation of Europe 1944-5- without any gloss at all. In fact, there is almost nothing positive in this tome at all. It is more a litany of all the costs of the European war with no salving military accomplishments featured. One needs to read elsewhere about s...
  • Ron Turner
    Starts out strong. The author makes a good point that the liberation of Europe during WWII has been heavily sanitized and romanticized. We forget that Italy was a nasty stalemate; that we had to bomb the hell out of France, Belgium and Germany; that our soldiers were not always on their best behavior and that occupation was a messy affair. But then it gets wobbly in the end, trying to tell the story of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation...
  • Paul
    This book is very well researched and it made me consider aspects of the war that I did not previously consider. I have read quite a few WWII related books but none touched on the subject matter of this book. Quite informative. I did feel the book moved a little too slowly in certain parts for my tastes.
  • Robb
    Ever thought about the war experiences of civilians near the European fronts of World War II? From this read, expect a new and fuller understanding of the phrase "horrors of war".
  • Rose Ann
    Very well done. Well-researched & well-organized, with new points of view. And oh my goodness, so very dreadfully sad.
  • Tina Panik
    The end of WWII was neither tidy, nor swift. Hitchcock's work explores the countries and people most harmed by the war, and how they attempt to rebuild. Incredibly well researched.
  • J.S.
    The story told of World War II is usually one of bravery and victory, of Allied armies pushing back a merciless Nazi army and liberating grateful Europeans. But that's not always how Europeans remembered it (when they chose to remember it at all). William Hitchcock explores the experiences of Europeans as they were "liberated" from the civilian perspective. He starts with D-Day and the invasions of the beaches of Normandy. Unfortunately, the Fren...
  • Mark
    William Hitchcock’s study of the liberation of Europe in the Second World War is actually four interrelated books contained within a single set of covers. The first book looks at the experience of civilians in northwestern Europe amidst the fighting during the final months of the war. Theirs is a story of painful, often overlooked hardship, as they were subjected to bombs and shells that did not discriminate between them and the German occupier...
  • Jeanne Bracken
    I knew little about the liberation of Europe after World War II. This book explodes the myth (at least in my mind) that the Europeans--French, Dutch, etc.--welcomed us Yankees and Allies with open arms, seeing us as saviors from the Nazi regime. While Hitchcock assures us that they were glad to see the last of the Germans, the Allies still bombed and killed a lot of civilians to get to that point, and relief efforts were difficult or sometimes im...
  • Pamela
    The Bitter Road to Freedom describes the never-ending litany of death, death of every type that is war in all times, in all places. From the East and from the West, the Allied Armies pretty much destroyed anything in their paths inadvertently and, in some cases, deliberately with malice. Hitchcock recounts the looting and rape done by the Soviet army as it took Berlin and also recounts episodes of rape and looting done by the Americans and Britis...