The Bitter Road to Freedom:

A New History of the Liberation of Europe

  • Read by: Mel Foster
  • Runtime: 18.1 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 12.29.2008
  • Publisher: Tantor
  • Genre: Nonfiction/History
  • 18.10 hrs12/29/2008Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9781400180479

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 this brilliant new book, historian William I. Hitchcock surveys the European continent from D-Day to the final battles of the war and the first few months of the peace. Based on exhaustive research in five nations and dozens of archives, Hitchcock’s groundbreaking account shows that the liberation of Europe was both a military triumph and a human tragedy of epic proportions. 

This strikingly original, multinational history of liberation brings to light the interactions of soldiers and civilians, the experiences of noncombatants, and the trauma of displacement and loss amid unprecedented destruction. This book recounts a surprising story, often jarring and uncomfortable, and one that has never been told with such richness and depth. 

Editorial Reviews

“The first book I have read that explicitly addresses the plight of civilians during the ‘crusade for Europe’…This tale vividly demonstrates that there was no cause for triumphalism in the condition of Europe following the defeat of Hitler.”

Sunday Times (London)

“A powerful and important new work of history…A thorough, passionate corrective to any simple telling of the terrible last year of this war.”

Financial Times

“Remarkable…Underlines that the liberation of Europe was both a major military triumph and a human tragedy of epic proportions.”

Irish Times (Dublin)

Author Biography

William I. Hitchcock teaches history at Temple University in Philadelphia. He was born in Fukuoka, Japan in 1965 and received his BA from Kenyon College in 1986 and his PhD from Yale University in 1994. He taught at Yale for six years and won a teaching prize there. He has also taught at Wellesley College. He is the author of France Restored: Cold War Diplomacy and the Quest for Leadership in Europe; the coeditor, with Paul Kennedy, of From War to Peace: Altered Strategic Landscapes in the Twentieth Century; and The Struggle for Europe: The Turbulent History of a Divided Continent, 1945–present.

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