Extended Audio Sample

Download The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau Audiobook, by Alex Kershaw Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.44277777777778 out of 54.44277777777778 out of 54.44277777777778 out of 54.44277777777778 out of 54.44277777777778 out of 5 4.44 (18 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex Kershaw Narrator: Fred Sanders Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2012 ISBN: 9780449012642
Regular Price: $22.50 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $18.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

From July 10, 1943, the date of the Allied landing in Sicily, to May 8, 1945, when victory in Europe was declared, the entire time it took to liberate Europe, no regiment saw more action, and no single platoon, company, or battalion endured worse, than the ones commanded by Felix Sparks, who had entered the war as a greenhorn second lieutenant of the 157th “Eager for Duty” Infantry Regiment of the 45th “Thunderbird” Division. Sparks and his fellow Thunderbirds fought longest and hardest to defeat Hitler, often against his most fanatical troops, when the odds on the battlefield were even and the fortunes of the Allies hung in the balance, and when the difference between defeat and victory was a matter of character, not tactics or armor.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Sparks and dozens of his men, as well as over five years of research in Europe and in archives across the US, historian Alex Kershaw masterfully recounts one of the most inspiring and heroic journeys in military history. Over the course of four amphibious invasions, Sparks rose from captain to colonel as he battled from the beaches of Sicily through the mountains of Italy and France, ultimately enduring bitter and desperate winter combat against the diehard SS on the Fatherland’s borders. Though he lost all of his company to save the Allied beach-head at Anzio and an entire battalion in the dark forests of the Vosges, Sparks miraculously survived the long bloody march across Europe and was selected to lead a final charge to Bavaria to hunt down Adolf Hitler.

In the dying days of the Third Reich, Sparks and his men crossed the last great barrier in the West, the Rhine, only to experience some of the most intense street fighting and close combat suffered by Americans in WWII. When they finally arrived at the gates of Dachau, Hitler’s first and most notorious concentration camp, the Thunderbirds confronted scenes that robbed the mind of reason.  With victory within grasp, Sparks confronted the ultimate test of his humanity: after all he had faced, could he resist the urge to wreak vengeance on the men who had caused untold suffering and misery?

Written with the narrative drive and vivid immediacy of Kershaw’s previous bestselling books about American infantrymen in WWII, The Liberator is a story for the ages, an intensely human and dramatic account of one of history’s greatest warriors and his unheralded role in America’s finest achievement, the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Download and start listening now!

BK_RAND_003297

Quotes & Awards

  • [Kershaw] is a captivating narrator, hammering home the chaos and carnage of war, sparing no sensory detail to paint a cohesive picture.  [His] portrayal of his subject (based on interviews with Sparks, who died in 2007, and other survivors) makes for a riveting, almost epic tale of a larger-than-life, underappreciated figure. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • This engrossing wartime narrative offers a fresh look at the European campaign and an intimate sense of the war’s toll on individual participants. Kirkus Reviews
  • Inspiring….A gripping and superbly told account of men in war. Booklist
  • Alex Kershaw's gripping account of one man's wartime experiences has both the intimacy of a diary and the epic reach of a military history.  The Liberator reminds us of the complexity and moral ambiguity of the Second World War. Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
  • A searing, brilliantly told story of the heroism and horror of war, Alex Kershaw’s The Liberator is a book that’s impossible to put down. A must read for anyone who loved Band of Brothers. Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London
  • Alex Kershaw, long acclaimed for his terse, lightning-fast narratives of true wartime action and heroism, reaches his full maturity with this sweeping saga of a legendary infantry unit and the leader who spurred it to glory. Ron Powers, co-author of Flags of Our Fathers
  • “Kershaw has ensured that individuals and entire battles that might have been lost to history, or overshadowed by more ‘important’ people and events, have their own place in the vast, protean tale of World War II....Where Kershaw succeeds, and where The Liberator is at its most riveting and satisfying, is in its delineation of Felix Sparks as a good man that other men would follow into Hell — and in its unblinking, matter-of-fact description, in battle after battle, of just how gruesome, terrifying and dehumanizing that Hell could be. Time.com
  • “Kershaw’s accounts of the battles Sparks survived are clear and grisly and gripping. World War II
  • “Mr. Kershaw’s book bears witness to the hell that America’s innocents came through, and the humanity they struggled to keep in their hearts.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A revealing portrait of a man who led by example and suffered a deep emotional wound with the loss of each soldier under his command.”

    Washington Post

  • “Kershaw’s writing is seamless. He incorporates information from a vast array of sources, but it works—you get a sense of the different voices coming into the story…A gripping read.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “This engrossing wartime narrative offers a fresh look at the European campaign and an intimate sense of the war’s toll on individual participants.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Exceptional….The Liberator balances evocative prose with attention to detail and is a worthy addition to vibrant classics of small-unit history like Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers….From the desert of Arizona to the moral crypt of Dachau, Mr. Kershaw's book bears witness to the hell that America's innocents came through, and the humanity they struggled to keep in their hearts. Wall Street Journal
  • A revealing portrait of a man who led by example and suffered a deep emotional wound with the loss of each soldier under his command….The Liberator is a worthwhile and fast-paced examination of a dedicated officer navigating — and somehow surviving — World War II. Washington Post
  • Kershaw’s writing is seamless. He incorporates information from a vast array of sources, but it works – you get a sense of the different voices coming into the story….A gripping read. Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • A history of the American war experience in miniature, from the hard-charging enthusiasm of the initial landings to the clear-eyed horror of the liberation of the concentration camps….An uncynical, patriotic look at our finest hour. The Daily Beast
  • A literary tour de force.  Kershaw brilliantly captures the pathos and untold perspective of WWII through the eyes of one of its most courageous, unsung officers – a great leader, who always put his men first.  The Liberator is a compelling, cinematic story of the highest order. Patrick K. O’Donnell, combat historian and author of Dog Company

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karolyn | 2/2/2014

    " Incredible! Another justification for these folks being named "The Greatest Generation". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 2/1/2014

    " An Amazing book through a soldier's view of the harsh reality of war. Felix Sparks was a second lieutenant with the 157th Infantry Regiment of the 45th "Thunderbird" Division that fought from Sicily on July 10, 1943-May 8, 1945 in Germany. He and his division liberated Dachau which was a concentration camp in Germany. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 H Wesselius | 1/27/2014

    " Combat stories can be difficult to write as the story evolves uneven and one can easily be distracted by details. Kershaw rarely makes this mistake in a story that details one man's combat duty which lasted from Sicily to Dachau. Although sometimes detail is confusing or the pace is muddled, the account of Anzio and Dachau alone make the book worth reading. "

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

    " I loved the book. It was easy to read and tells a story that you may have never heard. You hear about 3rd Army, 101st, Marines in the pacific....but I didn't know a thing about the 45th DIV. until reading this book. It was wonderful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marty | 1/15/2014

    " Nice look at an officer of WWII and the action of his men. Dachau was especially interesting. I would have rated it a 5 star had the author not used the opportunity to include an extremist anti-gun rant near the end of the book and had he been a little less "star struck" in his writing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lon | 1/8/2014

    " Outstanding... a complete and unbelievable true story. A new must read on the war in Europe. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce | 1/3/2014

    " History that reads like a novel. Five stars. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joyce Oliver stahle | 12/26/2013

    " A very well written book about the "Thunderbirds"of WWII. They saw such awful atrocities that it is no wonder they didn't want to talk about it. How could they put into words what they saw and experienced. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 12/20/2013

    " Workmanlike. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 11/9/2013

    " A well-written account of the war experiences of an outstanding soldier. The author described the infantryman's ordeals in compelling fashion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dozer Willis | 9/19/2013

    " Great story from the soldier's point of view. I liked the description of the Italian campaign which is much less popularly described than D-Day and the French theater. Great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura Litchfield | 7/6/2013

    " Compelling story that I read through in almost one sitting but there are many typos including dates that are annoying and sometimes confusing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Matheny | 7/3/2013

    " Excellent storytelling, the characters were portrayed as real men. I really enjoyed this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 6/9/2013

    " Very well written and easy to read, will be on the lookout for the authors other books "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Reeca Elliott | 3/16/2013

    " This was a very well written book! Superbly done! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 3/4/2013

    " Another excellent book by Kershaw and a very compelling read. His books add a great deal of texture and depth to a difficult yet triumphant time in our nation's history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 2/25/2013

    " Great story of a mans journey through WWII. Mr. Sparks experienced some very horrific battles, and had to deal with more than one inept superior officer. I admire him for the way he dealt with these situations and how he treated his men. Good book. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Alex Kershaw

Alex Kershaw is the British author of several popular books about World War II, most notably the New York Times bestsellers The Longest Winter and The Bedford Boys. Previously, Kershaw has been a writer at the Guardian, Independent, and Sunday Times and has worked in television, writing and producing an award-winning documentary on Bobby Kennedy. Along with his other nonfiction work, Kershaw is also an accomplished biographer. He currently lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

About the Narrator

Fred Sanders, winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award, has received critics’ praise for his audio narrations that range from nonfiction and memoir to fiction and mystery and suspense.