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Download Europe Central Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Europe Central Audiobook, by William T. Vollmann Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (946 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: William T. Vollmann Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2008 ISBN: 9781455189960
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In this magnificent work of fiction, William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye to the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century. The result is a daring and mesmerizing perspective on human actions during wartime.

Assembling a composite portrait of these two warring leviathans and the terrible age they defined, the narrative intertwines experiences both real and fictional: a young German who joins the SS to reveal its secrets and stop its crimes, two generals who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons and with different results, the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich laboring under Stalinist oppression. This last story is perhaps Vollmann’s signature accomplishment in this volume. Also explored are the fates of artists and poets ranging from Käthe Kollwitz and Anna Akhmatova to Marina Tsvetaeva and Van Cliburn.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Few American writers infuse their writing with similar urgency.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] nuanced reading…[Cosham has] a voice that is both intimate and distant, which he uses to excellent effect…stunning and otherworldly…atmospheric.”

    AudioFile

  • “Vollmann opens new portals onto a genocidal war never to be forgotten and illuminates both the misery and beauty human beings engender.”

    Booklist

  • Europe Central may be his best novel ever.”

    Washington Post

  • Winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Fiction
  • A 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary | 2/16/2014

    " Vollmann continues to write beautiful stories about horrible things. Parts of this book are outstanding, while others painfully slow. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jenni | 2/13/2014

    " I don't give up on many books (maybe 2 others in my life). But this book was just brutal. I don't know if I wasn't in the mood, but I could not get into it... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kyra | 2/10/2014

    " This book is told in slow-paced vignettes, so give yourself some time to go through it and appreciate the language. It helps to have a working knowledge of the USSR, as the book fictionalizes the inner thoughts of the main players during the USSR's troubled history. The story that takes the spotlight is that of Shostakovitch the composer's love for an elusive Elena. Also moving is the story of a Russian general, hero until he is captured by the Germans and collaborates with them, realizing that war is a nightmare of deception and impotent communication no matter which side you're on. I also like the story of a young SS officer who works subtlety to hinder the "final solution." Read this book in pieces (there are few paragraph breaks and the inner-monologue style of the book is its strength and weakness) and only if you already have an interest in Russian history, appreciating Volmann's imaginative retelling of history, and you won't be disappointed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mr. Brammer | 2/9/2014

    " I thought the section about Gerstein, the conflicted supplier of gas to death camps was the best part. After were the tales of Paulus and Vlasov, the generals who were captured and switched allegiences. Unfortunately, Vollman spends more time on Shostakovich, the composer involved in a love triangle. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 severyn | 1/16/2014

    " Wow! Really rather excellent, and, I'd say, almost certainly the best book I've read since the last Vollmann book I read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 12/31/2013

    " Worth reading, though I wouldn't imagine most people would be willing to slog through it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin | 12/31/2013

    " Parables about people (known to us and unknown) at moments of decision. It's the War and Peace of the battles between the Hitlerites and the Stalinites. You get Spain, you get wartime Berlin. You get wartime Leningrad, Moscow. You get war war war and a little Shostakovich. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Craig Winneker | 11/17/2013

    " There needs to be a sixth star for this book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 11/10/2013

    " Well written, but dense. It took me a long time to get through this book, and I typically read books quickly. Reading War and Peace, to which this has been compared, is probably a good idea, but I'm not sure I'm up to it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 mike | 11/5/2013

    " made my head explode, but wow! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ryan | 10/31/2013

    " i don't like vollman "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cat | 6/9/2013

    " warmed up to this 700 page epic after the first 250 pages. it's a series of intertwined stories set during the 20th century entirely about people the ussr & germany and mostly during and after wwII. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerilynn Pederson | 4/1/2013

    " I read and reread this book many times and every time I realize more and more how brilliant it really is. I would recommend to anyone reading it to not give up on it the first time you read it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ak | 1/10/2013

    " i've never so quickly lost interest in a book, in all my life. maybe unfair to review it based on 10 pages, but. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darin William | 11/30/2012

    " A lot to chew. I admit that I had to work to get through the middle third or so. This is one ambitious book. Long jagged dream sequences, stream of consciousness, always new characters. I learned a lot about totalitarianism, the appeal and the horrible consequences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Will Albers | 2/13/2012

    " very challenging book to read but it sent me off in the direction of other books about the eastern front and russia. specifically about vasily grossman.... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Conrad | 1/20/2012

    " I just don't get this guy. Tried reading it; wouldn't want to finish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 9/15/2011

    " Overlong and repetitive, which is a shame because several of the WWII stories are amazing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 2/2/2011

    " I liked this book a lot, but my reading did not do it justice. It was primarily a commute book, and though I could read a small chapter at a time, I felt that I was often too distracted to really get past the book's density. Still, the best reading I've done on the spirit of the Eastern Front. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Adrian | 12/9/2010

    " Are humans supposed to read this? Or did the author get paid by the word to decorate toilet paper? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jared | 8/11/2010

    " A gorgeous symphony of a book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Will | 6/7/2010

    " very challenging book to read but it sent me off in the direction of other books about the eastern front and russia. specifically about vasily grossman.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 5/29/2010

    " more like three and a half stars. Learned a lot, can't say I enjoyed it since it was such a challenge "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sherry | 4/12/2010

    " I so wanted to like this book, but I have given up. Every time I thought I understood who the protagonist was or what the main story was, it would shift focus. Maybe someone else will get it. I don't. "

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About the Author
Author William T. Vollmann

William T. Vollman is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. His 1996 story collection, The Atlas, won the PEN Center USA/West Award and he was the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award in 1988. Vollmann’s journalism has been published in the New YorkerEsquireHarpersGrantaGrand Street, and Outside magazine.

About the Narrator

Ralph Cosham (1936–2014), a.k.a. Geoffrey Howard, was a British journalist who changed careers to become a narrator and screen and stage actor. He performed in more than one hundred professional theatrical roles, and several of his narrations were named “Audio Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly. He won seven AudioFile Earphones Awards, and in 2013 he won the coveted Audie Award for Best Mystery Narration for his reading of Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery.