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The Second World War Paperback – May 7 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown Trade Division; Reprint edition (May 7 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316023752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316023757
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description



"[Beevor's] book is the definitive history. This is World War II as Tolstoy would have described it - the great and the small."―Washington Post

"Antony Beevor's The Second World War is simply the ultimate Second World War history: it brings these vast events to life, from high strategy to suffering humanity, from the dictators to the ordinary soldier."―Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daily Telegraph

"A powerful narrative of World War II...a gripping account...Beevor's the use of eyewitness testimony to deliver haunting particulars."―Richard Toye, New York Times Book Review

"Ever present is Beevor's skill in blending the strategizing of military chiefs with the ordinary soldiers they ordered about. . . Few will match his masterly overview, and no one will be unmoved by the ordeals and achievements that he so powerfully describes."―Globe and Mail

"The Second World War is a comprehensive capstone...a page-turner...[and] a kaleidoscope of individual experiences in a context of continuous choices...[Beevor's] command of a comprehensive spectrum of sources enables him to present the war from the perspective of its participants...Beevor brilliantly shows, at all levels, that WWII defies easy generalization."―Publishers Weekly

"Beevor has delivered an epic, brilliantly researched work on the defining event of the 20th century... his new research and his pitch-perfect narrative represent a truly astonishing display of art and craft... This book, which crowns Beevor's distinguished and bestselling career, is one of the nonfiction events of the decade and for this reader, is by far the best nonfiction of 2012 to date."―Stephen Frater, author of Hell Above Earth, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

"In this kaleidoscopic, one-volume account, a prize-winning historian shows his eye for telling anecdotes, his command of myriad facts, his sharply evocative prose and his skill at conjuring the big picture."―New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Anyone looking for a comprehensive military history of the Second World War that combines high strategy and politics but also takes full account of the war's human dimensions need look no further."―Winnipeg Free Press

"A general history of the war needs to embrace this variety of experience and capture the interplay between the momentous events unfolding on different continents and the high seas. Antony Beevor effectively meets this challenge. A former British army officer and author of admired works on Stalingrad and the Allied invasion of Normandy, Beevor is a gifted writer who knows how to keep a good story rolling. . . The brutality and courage of individual soldiers and civilians emerge in Beevor's powerful accounts. . . Beevor's book is a pleasure to read and an example of intelligent, lively historical writing at its best."―The Financial Times

"Every page is imbued with the sense that this man really knows what he is talking about ... Beevor's human and logistical capacities, in combination, inform the gripping accounts of some of the great set-piece confrontations that determined the outcome of the war."―Peter Clarke, The New Republic

"Antony Beevor makes the reader believe in the impossible: that he could write a history of magisterial authority about the greatest war of modern times and do justice to the global reach of that war...."―The Washington Times

"Readers who may instinctively recoil from another book about the worldwide turmoil of 1939-1945 would be unwise to ignore this one. . . Always at ease with the conduct of battle, Beevor displays his grasp of the German Army's professionalism and tactical skill at all levels of command, as well as Stalin's metamorphosis from paranoid political tyrant to master of history's most enormous battlefield. . . Once action is joined and false assumptions are exposed, Beevor is ruthless in dissecting them, whether featured in the fortunes of friend, foe or - despite their grit and resolve - in our own armed forces."―Michael Tillotson, The Times

"Brilliantly written...Beevor's account [is] incomparably vivid...[a] magnificently readable book."―The New York Review of Books

"You feel yourself being carried along on the narrative flow, channeled this way and that through the pools and rapids by Beevor's expert helmsmanship. As we have come to expect from the author, great events are leavened by telling vignettes and anecdotes."―Patrick Bishop, Standpoint

"An outstanding example of narrative history at its best, at once scholarly, enlightening, entertaining and thought-provoking."―The Tablet

"Everything is pared down to serve the relentless thrust of his storytelling. The result is a magnificent performance - true excitement from one page to the next delivered in faultless prose. . . Beevor offers superbly vivid accounts, often with tiny details that will surprise even those who gorge themselves on shot and ball histories."―Christopher Silvester, Daily Express

"The chapters on the Nazi-Soviet war find Beevor at the top of his game, in command of a huge range of sources, with a fine eye for place and detail, deftly manipulating incident and character, and making effective use of soldiers' diaries and letters to create a vast human tapestry of war. The prose is relaxed and contains a spring in every paragraph. He excels too at grand strategy - as a diplomatic historian, he is a match for AJP Taylor. The conferences at Casablanca, Tehran, Yalta and so on, which can have their longeurs, here sparkle with wit and insight, especially into the behaviour of Stalin. There are revelations too."―Ben Shephard, Observer

"This book is a perfect mixture of world history and human experience, unbiased and highly readable."―The Journal

"Brocaded with details of the great campaigns and thoughtful explanations of Hitler's murderous belligerency, The Second World War is an absorbing, unsparingly lucid work of military history...exceptionally powerful."―Ian Thomson, The Spectator

"Antony Beevor's remarkably informative and well-written book . . . Beevor's enormous strength is that he can sketch out complicated campaigns clearly. . . Antony Beevor has done splendid justice to this [the bombing of Germany] and to a very great deal else."―Norman Stone, Literary Review

"A war epic close to perfection."―Mail on Sunday

"The level of operational command, rather than grand strategy or the horrors of front line experience, shapes the magisterial narrative of the Second World War. Its military history is presented chronologically, with chapter titles which convey the simultaneity and interconnectedness of events in very different theatres. This is the place to begin if you need to get your knowledge of the war in order. Beevor is not afraid to quote the familiar when it is important or to let his favourite voices have their say but he also provides plenty of fresh insights for those who kid themselves that they know the story already."―Hew Strachan, Evening Standard

"This is history writ large. . . unexpected vignettes linger in the memory."―Daily Telegraph

"This memorable vignette is one of hundreds in Antony Beevor's utterly absorbing history of the Second World War. Beevor is justly celebrated for recounting the human realities of war. . . Beevor is committed to telling the truth about war, with all its painful contradictions. . . Beevor does not flinch: this is as comprehensive and objective account of the course of the war as we are likely to get, and the most humanly moving to date."―John Gray, New Statesman

"Judged against his own high standards of readability there is no doubt that The Second World War succeeds very well indeed. . . This is an immensely readable book, not least for the manner in which it blends together high strategy with the view from below. . . A masterful narrative history."―History Today

"If you only know the outlines of World War II, I would very heartily recommend it."―Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

"His monumental and magisterial history of the Second World War . . . Beevor is excellent at catching the individual in the flood tide of events. . . Few can match his superbly controlled narrative."―Sunday Express

"With engaging prose and a remarkable ability to clarify and simplify massive and complex events, Beevor has once again demonstrated why he is a pre-eminent historian on the subject...the book is essential reading for anyone seeking to learn more about World War II and its consequences...[it] is always captivating and informative...It is hard to imagine how he will ever top this masterpiece of historical scholarship."―Army Magazine

"The narrative never flags and the myriad pieces of this intricate kaleidoscope are pieced together with exemplary skill...This is a splendid book, erudite, with admirable clarity of thought and expression."―Roger Moorhouse, The Independent on Sunday

Praise for D-DAY:

"Glorious, horrifying...D-Day is a vibrant work of history that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women."―Time

"One of Beevor's strengths is his ability to describe the day-to-day experience of ordinary soldiers: the food, the weather, the smells, the humor, the fear. . . Perhaps this is what makes Beevor's D-Day such terrific reading. It details the shattering reality of D-Day and the months of savage fighting that followed instead of offering empty mythologizing. This is that rare hardcover worth your valuable attention and money."―USA Today

"The first impression on seeing D-Day on the bookshelf might be a question, "Why yet another book on D-Day?" The answer comes through in the detailed research and exhaustive treatment of individual stories as the Allies lodged ashore and then advanced on that fateful day and after, all the way to Paris...For anyone with any interest at all in World War II in Europe, especially the time from the landings through the liberation of Paris, D-Day is the book for you."―Vice-Admiral Robert F. Dunn, Washington Times

"This is a superb book and a model of the historian's craft. It stands as the best one-volume history of this decisive military engagement."―Christian Science Monitor

"His account of atrocities on both sides, of errors committed and of surpassing bravery makes for excellent -- though often blood-soaked -- reading. Beevor gets better with each book."―Kirkus Reviews

"Beevor's history is becoming World War II's definitive account.―Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Beevor's book is a great look at how we think about "good" and "evil."―Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Antony Beevor served as a regular officer in the 11th Hussars in Germany. He is the author ofCrete-The Battle and the Resistance, which won a Runciman Prize,Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper),Stalingrad, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature,Berlin-The Downfall, which received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award,The Mystery of Olga Chekhovaand, most recently, the bestseller,D-Day. He lives in London.

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on July 3 2012
Format: Hardcover
World War II is perhaps the textbook illustration of "epic" when it comes to history. Nothing before (or thankfully) since comes even close to matching its vast scope and influence. The staggering human cost of the war, in both casualties and suffering, is awesome. Now I should note that none of these statements is in any way meant to glorify the war or minimize its horror. Indeed, it is worth remembering that World War II was the most gruesome, savage, and loathesome display of human behavior in history.

It's with that in mind that Antony Beevor tells the overall story of the war. He captures its "world" effect by starting in Asia with Japan, China, and the USSR. For the war really, in many ways, began with Japan's invasion of mainland East Asia. Like much of the war that is non-American or European, this is a neglected and often ill-understood portion of the war. Yet almost as many Chinese died as Soviets (~20 million each), which is over 40x the number of casualties the United States AND the United Kingdom suffered in the war (~.5 million each). Each is over 400x the number of casualties that Canada suffered (~45K- Germany suffered ~7-8 million). Staggering is the only word I can think of to describe these numbers. Yet Beevor, in his usual style, injects real human details into these numbers. Murder, rape, torture, genocide, and even cannibalism are documented in this book. Truly WW2 was awful in every sense of the word, and it is very important for historians to keep reminding us of these very unpleasant, but important facts.

Beevor doesn't dwell on any particular aspect of the war for long. An 800 page, 50 chapter book might seem like a lot, but for a conflict of this magnitude, it's really only enough for a brief overview of the different stages of the war.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 21 2013
Format: Hardcover
Following the download of this book, I had a moment of buyer’s remorse. Why was I purchasing yet another history of The Second World War? Having read many covering the entire war and greater numbers on various aspects of the conflict, was I really going to discover anything I had not already learned?

My interest in this period can be traced back to the books in my father’s den. Among them was a collection from Time-Life on the war. I can still visualize the photo of Wavell & O’Connor discussing strategy in the desert, the Japanese tanker’s flame-thrown skull, and the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Those images were the catalyst for decades of military history reading. Thankfully, historians like Beevor, Atkinson, Evans and others have done us a service with fresh, rich research and writing.

Beevor’s decision to tackle this “amalgamation of conflicts” must have been daunting. The scale of the conflict boggles the mind. The complexity of decision-making and the range of personalities involved will never truly be comprehended. I have tended to follow the Western conflict more and specifically the ground battles but Beevor does an admirable job in the Pacific (and with the air and sea wars). In fact, he contends and shows how the German and Japanese conflicts deeply influenced each other and states that the “Second World War defies generalization”.

Not only was the Second World War an amalgamation of conflicts, it’s origins were an amalgam of issues dating back to the Treaty of Versailles and earlier. Beevor’s treatment begins with a satisfying analysis and review of those issues whereas so many histories commence with Germany’s invasion of Poland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John L. Barton on Oct. 2 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beevor takes a well research subject, WW2, and still makes it an informative and entertaining read. I have read extensively about the war but I still found much that surprised me. He did not limit himself to the war started in 1939 but instead started with the Japanese in China in the 1930's. His extensive coverage of China and the political situation there was a revelation. This is a book that will become a classic for anyone who wishes to understand the Second world War.
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By Troy Parfitt on July 3 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this book was excellent. It deals with the truly global nature of the war, the beginning of which may be traced to Japanese incursions into China, which is to say the volume is not European or Western centric. Indeed, there is much criticism about the Allies, e.g. the pointless bombing of German cities and the post-war selling of Poland down the river. Also, Roosevelt and Churchill are cut down to size as are various military leaders. The history is well written and, naturally, well researched. I learned heaps and frequently felt depressed. So much senseless cruelty and horror. I wonder if studying up on all the atrocities ever put the writer in a bad mood.

I only have one complaint. I’m not quite sure how the author arrived at his views on Chiang Kai-shek. Here, we only see the Generalissimo behaving really badly after the war. The US should have lent more support to Chiang’s Nationalists, etc. The Chinese were doing their best to resist the Japanese invaders, and so on. I don’t see it that way and wonder why there are no significant accounts of the Nationalists fighting the Japanese, like there are, for instance, of the Russians fighting the Germans. I think the reason is that apart from a bold assault on Japanese-held Shanghai, a victory at Taierzhuang, and a few other battles, there just wasn’t that much organized resistance. Nationalist troops were typically press ganged and untrained and Chiang was mainly conserving his strength to fight the Communists after the Americans had dealt with the Japanese. The author touches on these points, but he doesn’t acknowledge that Chiang was a gangster, his government the mafia. The Nationalists were fascists. When they fled to Taiwan, they slaughtered thousands and turned the island into a police state.
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