Cornelius Ryan has the material and knows how to use it. He has refined the technique he employed in his bestselling The Longest Day and his account of the last three weeks of Nazi Germany in April 1945. The target city was Berlin. The Russians had a model of the city with numbers on the buildings their commanders were vying to take. Britain's Montgomery wanted desperately to get the O.K. to sweep into Berlin for the Allies. Eisenhower's initial plans did not include a heavy drive on the city; his thinking was military/strategy rather than political/morale oriented and besides, Allied treaties had already zoned the city. Who took what and when has been a matter of record for so long that it takes a special journalistic magic to make it into a taut story. Mr. Ryan does it while fleshing the record out with information from newly revealed sources in Germany and Russia and countless interviews with the man-in-the-street survivors. This is undoubtedly the most curiosity-satisfying aspect of the book. Berliners were braced for defeat. Women had been warned by medical experts that the Russian soldiers took rape breaks as casually as coffee breaks and to prepare themselves for suicide. At the once famous zoo, keepers were frantic over their animal charges. The Philharmonic prepared for evacuation, housewives prepared to hide or die, children... well Hitler thought they'd been sent out of the city and no one dared tell the desiccated Fuehrer he was wrong. Ryan's got it all--the shock of the concentration camps to American commanders who had never quite imagined it, the last hours and minutes in Hitler's hidey-hole, the invading soldiers and the citizens. A popular history at the top of the form. Be prepared, The Longest Day has sold 4,000,000 and this is even better.