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Second World War [Hardcover]

John Keegan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 21 1989
By the author of "The Price of Admiralty", this book approaches the war from a thematic and periodic standpoint. The course of the war is divided into six passages and attached to each is an analytical narrative of a battle, which exemplifies a mode of warfare special to this war, such as city sieges, an air battle, an airborne operation, an aircraft carrier battle, a tank battle and an amphibious landing. The author takes as his starting point the outcome of the First World War, and what it meant in particular for the defeated nations, and how the developed world reacted to its first experience of mass warfare. He surveys the strategic positioning of all the major combatants to summarize the strategic progress of the war. In addition all the major ancillary activities to which the war gave rise are discussed: war supply, war production, strategic bombing, occupation and repression, espionage and resistance, and the secret weapons programmes.

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From Amazon

The best one-volume treatment available, The Second World War by John Keegan is an outstanding synthesis of an enormous amount of material on "the largest single event in human history." The book proceeds chronologically through the war, but chapters appearing at appropriate moments focus on particular themes, such as war production, occupation, bombing, resistance, and espionage. Keegan's ability to translate the war's grand strategies is impressive, and the battle descriptions are superb. Generals obviously play a key role in this narrative, but ordinary soldiers also receive proper credit, as do the often-overlooked merchant marines whose heroic efforts to supply Great Britain made the Allied victory possible. Keegan, author of the landmark book The Face of Battle, is without doubt one of our greatest military historians, and here his analytical powers and skilled writing are on full display. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"This account of WW II, though controversial, is rich in fresh perception, interpretation and opinion. In addition to penning a fast-paced campaign chronicle, Keegan makes a convincing case for the prime motivations of Allied and Axis leaders, pinpoints the practical results of Allied summit conferences and defines the war's geopolitical dimensions," reported PW. Photos.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
"'The First [World] War explains the second and, in fact, caused it, in so far as one event causes another,' wrote A.J.P. Taylor in his Origins of the Second World War." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stuff of heroes March 19 2003
Format:Paperback
The man was absolutely amazing - switching parties, positions, ideologies, a painter, a traveler, a politician and most of all, a leader of his beloved Britain. He served his country well at numerous positions from the Admiralty to MP (from multiple areas and multiple parties) to 10 Downing Street. But most of all, he is known by his unflagging strength and brilliant, fortifying speeches during WWII.
Today he is quoted by those who think intervention is the only sound policy in response to potential terror. He was prescient in his warnings about the necessity of confronting evil but the nation turned its head (and suffered the consequences). This account, in his inimitable style, is a masterly work. He traces the reasons for conflict, the beginnings, the internal political machinations, the movers and shakers, the battles, the trials and the final push.
The work succeeds on three levels: Historical, literary and personal. It should be required reading for students today who would learn more history between these pages than in any boring class. Again and again he stresses that the past must be studied if future errors are to be avoided and that past actions determine/predicate future activities. For him, it was easy to see the logical outcome of Hitler's ever-spreading land grab. His old-fashioned morality spoke to him, telling him that it was quite silly to expect rulers who terrorize their own people to uphold internation laws of civility.
In the end, he issued a warning about Soviet Russia who he had always regarded with contempt. His "iron curtain" reference became an everyday term for the next fifty years. Buy these works for someone you care about - or give yourself a treat.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate history lesson on WW II Feb. 24 2003
Format:Paperback
Most people have the feeling that Winston Churchill won a nobel prize. Since Churchill was the 1st minister of the United Kingdom during most of the Second World War, it's natural for them to think CHurchill won the Nobel Peace Prize for achievements during the war. That's not the truth. Churchill won the Nobel Prize for LITERATURE in 1953, accordingly to the Scandinavian institution, "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".
Among the books that granted Churchill the Nobel Prize is "The second world war". This book is a history lesson about WWII. Even if it's more than 1000 pages in length, it's never a tedious reading, even if it becomes very dense at some parts.
Churchill was always in the center of the war, as a politician. "The second world war" is a book about the War's politics. All the motives and reasons behind the war are toroughly explained, as well as all the war's developments during the toughest six years in the history of humanity.
Being a book mostly about politics, I felt at some times the lack of battle field scenes; being a book mostly about the war in Europe and northern Africa, I felt I wanted more information about the war in the Pacific. But it's undertandable that "The second world war" doesn't go very deep in these subjects, because Churchill writes mostly about what he was part of, so much so that in Brazil the title of this book is "Memoirs of the second world war". And that's what it is: Churchill's memories of what he was part of during WWII.
So, it's not a complete book about the war, and it couldn't possibly be, but it's a fundamental book for readers to understand the war in a political way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 STARS AREN'T ENOUGH April 27 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Sheesh - difficult to read? Perhaps one should try "WWII FOR DUMMIES"!
This is an awsesome, detailed, and superbly documented historical work. By it's very nature it can't be light or entertaining. In a certain sense it's a reference book for future professional historians that want to improve their understanding of the 20th century. The author delves into a myriad of topics along the way; invariably with penetrating insights and a unique writing style. The average person doesn't really need to read it cover to cover. Most of the chapters can stand alone. The documentation isn't overly important to the narrative.
The work also has great uniqueness and originality. No other world leader wrote a detailed memoir of their war experiences, let alone an overarching history of it. No one else had the perspective on the war that Churchill did. And like all major wars, it was unique, never to be duplicated in the history of the world.
In regard to errors, I wonder how many of you bozos have saved the world from a power mad, genocidal, megalomaniacal dictator without making an error? Sheesh.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beyond Words -- Required Reading Aug. 26 2003
Format:Paperback
It must have taken me darn near a year to read all six volumes in this work. They're inconceivably great. They're certainly not fast reading (as evidenced by how long it took for me to complete the set), but they're truly awe inspiring. As I read through the work, the same thing kept running through my head: if it weren't for this man (Winston Churchill), we'd all be speaking German right now. There's no doubt about it. It's amazing that this set doesn't form the reading for a required course for every person in America. I don't know about the education system in Britain, but if it's not required reading there, something has truly gone wrong with that country. I can't stress enough how much I mean it when I say: "you MUST read these works."
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great work of history by a Great Man who shaped that history
I have read the first 2 books in this collection and have the third sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. Read more
Published on July 18 2007 by Aaron Donnelly
3.0 out of 5 stars Sir Winston spins history & covers his derriere
It amazes me that this collection of wartime memoirs continues to be held up as an example of Great History & Great Literature. Read more
Published on June 2 2004 by chefdevergue
5.0 out of 5 stars The number one book on leadership in time of war
The Second World War by Winston S. Churchill is THE work on the conflict. Churchill's graceful command of the English language, his personal role in the conduct of the war, and... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Chuck DeVore
5.0 out of 5 stars It's hard to go wrong with Keegan
Once again Keegan makes history interesting. I always love reading his books; I find them very easy to digest while still able to convey a wealth of information. Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by mr sachmo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Conflict of All Time
John Keegan's, "The Second World War," is a detailed overview of the greatest conflict in history. The author gives his readers a behind the scenes view of deliberations conducted... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by Harold Y. Grooms
4.0 out of 5 stars What Mattered and What Did Not
John Keegan has carved himself a distinctive place in the literature of warfare. He's serious and well-informed, without having fallen play to the kind of celebratory cheerleading... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Buce
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written WWII introductory opus, but watch for flaws....
The Second World War was the largest, bloodiest conflict in history. It was fought on three of the seven continents and involved every major power of the time. Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2003 by Alex Diaz-Granados
5.0 out of 5 stars Keegan's masterpiece
Prof. Keegan's masterpiece is an excellent addition to any library. It is well-written and covers both theaters of the war. Read more
Published on June 15 2003 by Anthony Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book about WWII
(by E.M. Singer, author of "Mother Flies Hurricanes") I love this book! John Keegan, besides being a terrific writer, is a master of organization as well (which appeals to... Read more
Published on May 3 2003 by E.M. Singer
5.0 out of 5 stars The whole story, by someone who was privy to it all
All the histories I've ever read of the war, were written by people who, either studied the war, or participated in it, and would write from memory. Read more
Published on March 22 2003 by Amateur curmudgeon
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