Five Days That Shocked The World: An Oral History of Europe at the End of World War Two
Nicholas Best

Five Days That Shocked The World: An Oral History of Europe at the End of World War Two

April 1945. Dragged from his mistress’s bed, Benito Mussolini is taken outside and shot by Italian partisans. Two days later, Adolf Hitler discusses lipstick and dog breeding with his secretaries over a last meal of spaghetti and salad. All over Europe, the white flag is flying as Hitler puts a gun to his head and the most disastrous war in human history draws to a close.

This is the story of five momentous days at the end of the war, from the execution of Mussolini and the surrender in Italy to the announcement on German radio that the Führer had fallen at his post, fighting to his last breath against Bolshevism. Everyone remembered where they were when they learned of the dictators’ deaths, from Jack Kennedy at the UN conference in San Francisco to Bob Dole near death himself in an Italian hospital and Private Henry Kissinger, back on German soil for the first time since his family fled Nuremberg before the war. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was in a Moscow prison, Roman Polanski was playing with grenades on the streets of Krakow and the future Pope Benedict was on his way home, terrified that he might yet be shot for deserting from the Wehrmacht.

Hitler’s sister Paula was in tears at Berchtesgaden. Audrey Hepburn was in Holland, delighted that she no longer risked being put to work in a Wehrmacht brothel. Drawing on a wealth of unfamiliar material, Nicholas Best tells a compelling tale of the men and women across Europe who heaved a collective sigh of relief as the news they had all been waiting for came over the radio – that the two dictators, the most hated men in the world, were dead at long last.

Book Details:

  • Author: Nicholas Best
  • Published Year: 2012
  • Rights Sold
    • US: St Martin's Press
    • Italy: Pearson
    • Poland: Znak
    • UK: Osprey
    • China: Xinhua Publishing House
    • Czech Republic: Vlastimil
    • Turkey: Kahve Yayinlari
    • Finland: Minerva
    • Israel: Keter Books
    • Spain: Ediciones De Pasada Y Presente
    • Romania: Meteor

Nicholas Best

Nicholas Best grew up in Kenya and was educated there, in England and at Trinity College, Dublin. He served in the Grenadier Guards and worked in London as a journalist before becoming a fulltime author. His comic novel Tennis and the Masai was serialized on BBC Radio 4 and has recently been a best-seller in the Amazon Top 100. The Greatest Day in History, his account of the 1918 Armistice, was a Waterstone's recommendation of the month and has been translated into many languages.     In 2010, Nicholas Best was long-listed for the inaugural Sunday Times-EFG Private Bank award of...
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Book Reviews

  • "  A gripping account of the last days of World War II. Written from the perspective of individuals – some famous them, almost all famous thereafter – who experienced the dreadful days, the book provides a clear picture of the immensely varied  events, most tragic and horrifying, some poignant  and hopeful – that rolled out as that most awful of wars finally come to an end in Europe. It reads like a thriller, informs like a scholar, and is not be missed.    "
    Randall Hansen, author, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany
  • "In addition to engaging suspense, Best provides plenty of moments of prurience—e.g., orgies in the bunker’s dentist chair; the looting of Eva Braun’s knickers by the first Russian visitors. Suspenseful, sketchy and somewhat vulgar—these accounts render no one’s finest hour. "
    Kirkus
  • "A new book has offered a fascinating fresh glimpse of the Second World War through the stories of dozens of individuals at the climax of the conflict..."
    Times
  • "...an engaging tableau of eyewitness accounts of the dying days of the Second World War...Best’s narrative skills are so beguiling that it is easy for the reader to...be swept along by the tale. This book...can most definitely be read for the simple pleasure of a good story well told."
    BBC History Magazine