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The Second World War Paperback – May 7 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (May 7 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316023752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316023757
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


[Antony Beevor] crams in so much and does it so well because he can. THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Antony Beevor served as a regular officer in the 11th Hussars in Germany. He is the author of Crete-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 Chekhova and, most recently, the bestseller, D-Day. He lives in London.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 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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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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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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