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 at the highest levels leading up to the major battles in each theatre. He then analyzes the combatant's preparations and schemes of maneuver and provides sound analyses of both the outcomes and the long-term implications of each campaign. The result is one of the most thorough reviews of World War II ever written.
Keegan begins with an overview of the factors that led to the outbreak of a second world war only 21 years after the, "war to end all wars," ended. The economic devastation caused by harsh surrender terms gave rise to crime, unemployment and rampant inflation. Paramilitary groups, composed of frustrated young men desperately looking for leadership and a means of avenging their national honor, sprang up and flourished in the post war chaos. Also, promises made to nations to entice their participation in World War I went unfulfilled leaving some former allies, disillusioned and bitter. These factors combined to open the way for despots such as Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. The world would pay a heavy price for these mistakes beginning in the 1930's.
Keegan then narrates the major conflicts in each theatre. He reviews the grand strategies and tactical actions of the commanders involved and dispenses praise or condemnation solely on the results achieved. Allied and Axis commanders are glorified or condemned based on their generalship alone in one of the most completely objective accounts ever.
Professor Keegan recounts most world leaders agreed, at the end of the First World War, the lethality of 1918 vintage weapons had made war invalid as an instrument of foreign policy. In 1945, the devastated cities of Europe and Russia reaffirmed those findings. Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan emphatically confirmed the analysis with mushroom shaped exclamation points. Yet, the alliances that evolved from World War II made nuclear holocaust a distinct possibility for the next 45 years. Fortunately, the lessons learned in World War II kept this from occurring.
Second World War is an outstanding analysis of the major campaigns fought in World War II. My only advise is unless the reader is as well versed in world geography as the author, he would do well to keep an atlas at his side to help visualize the schemes of maneuver described. Never the less, the book deserves a place in the library of every serious student of this, the greatest conflict of all time. 5 stars!!