It is commonly held that at the outset of war, Germany had the best army in the world, and that Britain barely managed to hold out against it until the Americans declared war and overwhelmed Nazi military prowess with economic might. But the picture looked much different in 1939: In advance of its Polish offensive, Germany was short on resources, tanks, and trained soldiers. Meanwhile, Britain and France had more men in uniform than Germany and considerably greater naval power, and Britain was the richest country in Europe with a massive empire at its disposal. Hitler was bluffing when he called for the wholesale destruction of Poland, but his bet that Western Europe wouldn t get involved turned out to be fatally wrong.
Beginning with the lead-up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and ending in the middle of 1941 on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Russia, "The War in the West, Volume I" covers the war on several levels, from fascinating tactical revelations blitzkrieg, Holland argues, is a myth to the personal stories of a German U-boat captain, a French reserve officer, a son-in-law of Mussolini, an American construction tycoon, and civilians across the war zone. This is a major history, destined to generate significant scholarly debate and reader interest."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-08-24
- Reviewer: Staff
In this first of a three-volume history of WWII in Western Europe and the Mediterranean, British historian Holland (The Dam Busters) discusses the major battles, events, and factors important to the first two years of conflict in Western Europe. Relying on archival research, extensive secondary sources, and personal memoirs, Holland nimbly weaves the complex military, diplomatic, political, economic, and social patterns that marked the conflict on a global scale. He organizes the book by the major military events of the early war period: the road to war, the fall of France, the Battle of Britain, and the war at sea and operations around the Mediterranean. Impressively for so weighty a subject, Holland keeps the reader engaged by showing the major events through the eyes of the participants—at the strategic level with politicians and generals, and at the tactical level with common soldiers and civilians. Though it would have been easy to fill the book with descriptions of combat, Holland balances those with such critical topics as political relations, economics, and the role of technology. Holland has produced a worthy history that both general readers and WWII enthusiasts can enjoy. (Oct.)