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Second World War Hardcover – Sep 21 1989

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson (Sept. 21 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091740118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091740115
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 20 x 5.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #379,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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 that you get from so much battle reporting. At the same time he conveys compassion for the suffering that warfare inflicts, without letting himself become shrill. The combination allows him to claim a kind of relevancy for his subject that either of those rejected extremes might forbid him. Wars happen, and they matter, and they are fought well or badly. And - this is perhaps a point of special urgency - they could have happened differently.
For surely it is easy to forget just how chance a business war can be - as the Second World War surely was. Keegan gives you a hundred ways to play the game of what might have been. If the Americans had been more alert to the possibility of attack at Pearl Harbor; if Hitler had not shown such sentimental foolishness as to throw in his hand with his Japanese allies; if Stalin had not liquidated all his own best generals - and this is only the beginning.
Keegan is also enlightening - or at least thought-provoking - in his assessment of relative roles. Partisan warfare was full of heroes and martyrs, but it didn't amount to much - think of the butchery at Warsaw, or in the high planes outside Grenoble. "Dirty tricks" - OSS spy games and suchlike - provide the stuff of good movie plots, but they counted perhaps even less. Code-breaking, by contrast, counted for a great deal, perhaps most in the run-up to Midway, itself surely the most important naval battle of the war.
In the end, why did the Allies win? A thousand reasons, perhaps, but in the end the good ones are dull and obvious.
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Format: Paperback
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. Some of the combatant nations (most notably France and Italy) changed sides at least once between 1939 and 1945, and by the time Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945 over 50 million men, women, and children were dead, millions more were wounded and/or uprooted, homeless, and bewildered by the war's effects. Indeed, those of us now living in the early 21st century are still living with the aftermath of World War II; many of the crises we now face can be traced to decisions made during or shortly after the war.
John Keegan's The Second World War is a one-volume general history of the 1939-45 conflict, and it should be read more as an introductory text rather than a comprehensive "this-is-the-book-that-explains-the-whole-darned-thing" opus. It's too short (595 pages, not counting the bibliography or index) for that. Instead, it is structured in six parts, starting with Hitler's early campaigns in Poland and the West in 1939-40 and culminating with Japan's surrender in midsummer of 1945. Each part is divided into a few chapters that focus on themes and strategies...with attention given to a particular type of warfare in form of an example. For instance, for "Air Battle," Keegan cites the Battle of Britain. For "Airborne Battle," he uses Crete as his centerpiece.
The book is strongest when Keegan goes into detail about such things as the evolution of armies from the 19th century until the war starts in September 1939; he is particularly adept when explaining the revolutionary changes in European military organizations, particularly after the integration of the railroad and mass-production techniques from 1860 on.
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