World War II in 1941: The History of the War’s Most Pivotal Year

World War II in 1941: The History of the War’s Most Pivotal Year

Narrated by:
Bill Caufield
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Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2024
7 hours 3 minutes
At the beginning of 1941, it was unclear whether the Allies would be able to remain in the war for much longer. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had already immortalized the men of the Royal Air Force with one of the West’s most famous war-time quotes, but the potential of a German invasion of Britain still loomed. With the comfort of hindsight, historians now suggest that the picture was actually more complex than that, but the Battle of Britain, fought throughout the summer and early autumn of 1940, was unquestionably epic in scope.

In the warm predawn darkness of June 22, 1941, 3 million men waited along a front hundreds of miles long, stretching from the Baltic coast of Poland to the Balkans. Ahead of them in the darkness lay the Soviet Union, its border guarded by millions of Red Army troops echeloned deep throughout the huge spaces of Russia. This massive gathering of Wehrmacht soldiers from Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and his allied states – notably Hungary and Romania – stood poised to carry out Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's surprise attack against the country of his putative ally, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

All Americans are familiar with the “day that will live in infamy.” At 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor, the advanced base of the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet, was ablaze. It had been smashed by aircraft launched by the carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. All eight battleships had been sunk or badly damaged, 350 aircraft had been knocked out, and over 2,000 Americans lay dead. Indelible images of the USS Arizona exploding and the USS Oklahoma capsizing and floating upside down have been ingrained in the American conscience ever since. In less than an hour and a half the Japanese had almost wiped out America’s entire naval presence in the Pacific.
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