For instance, as World War Two recedes ever further into the past, even a question as apparently basic as when it began and ended becomes less certain. Was it 1939, when the war in Europe began? Or the summer of 1941, with the beginning of Hitler's war against the Soviet Union? Or did it become truly global only when the Japanese brought the USA into the war at the end of 1941? And what of the long conflict in East Asia, beginning with the Japanese aggression in China in the early 1930s and only ending with the triumph of the Chinese Communists in 1949?
In The Oxford Illustrated History of World War Two a team of leading historians re-assesses the conflict for a new generation, exploring the course of the war not just in terms of the Allied response but also from the viewpoint of the Axis aggressor states. Under Richard Overy's expert editorial guidance, the contributions take us from the genesis of war, through the action in the major theatres of conflict by land, sea, and air, to assessments of fighting power and military and technical innovation, the economics of total war, the culture and propaganda of war, and the experience of war (and genocide) for both combatants and civilians, concluding with an account of the transition from World War to Cold War in the late 1940s. Together, they provide a stimulating and thought-provoking new interpretation of one of the most terrible and fascinating episodes in world history.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Acclaimed British historian Overy (The Bombing War) gathers a dozen—mostly male, mostly British—fellow historians to produce a significant contribution to the general-audience literature on WWII. The contributors are a cross-section of the field's best, including familiar figures such as David French as well as lesser-known standouts Michael Snape and Patricia Clavin. They offer fingertip mastery of their specific subjects, balanced analyses, and reader-friendly presentations on topics ranging from the culture of war to military innovation. Overy's introduction establishes the work's integrating themes: the dissolution of old empires and political structures under the pressure of mass nationalism, and the ability to create and sustain mass armed forces. Particularly noteworthy are Clavin's analysis of the war as the "grim apotheosis" of an "endemic crisis of global security under way for 20 years"; Overy's interpretation of Germany's war as an ideology-based "product of the eternal war... against the phantom Jewish conspiracy in Europe"; and Richard Bessel's searing presentation of the war's "unnatural deaths... grisly catalogue of brutality, callousness, inhumanity, and murder... in a ubiquitous context of violence " implemented by states and individuals alike. The compendium's major shortcoming is its relative slighting of the Pacific theater. Nevertheless, this collection merits wide circulation and attentive reading. (June)