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Maiolo (The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany, 1933–1939), of the department of war studies at King' s College, London, challenges the familiar thesis that WWII was a consequence of the democracies neglecting their defenses in the 1920s and failing to rearm quickly enough in the 1930s to stop Axis aggression. This thoroughly researched work makes an alternate case: growing political tension in the 1930s generated a general arms race. It began with the Red militarism initiated by Soviet Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky. It was thrown into high gear when Nazi Germany repudiated the Versailles treaty, and a synergy of action-reaction surges increased the pace of military spending and production. With an emulate-or-capitulate logic, the arms race became a vast maelstrom, with its own dynamic that destroyed the participants' master plans. Maiolo makes a strong case that by 1939 the Axis' s enemies had taken a sufficient lead that Italy, Japan, and Germany sought to create windows of opportunity using what they had. The result was a global, total war--and continuation of the arms race in thermonuclear, superpower contexts that continued until the U.S.S.R.' s implosion. 16 b&w illus.; maps.
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At first glance, one might think that Maiolo inadvertently mixed up his wars. But he isn’t writing about the buildup to World War I. He marshals a great deal of data, including production statistics and policy statements by politicians and military officials, in an effort to show that the arms race of the 1930s was central rather than peripheral in causing the outbreak of global war in 1939. This is certainly a bold thesis, and Maiolo provides plenty of interesting and sometimes surprising information as he moves forward in the decade. As he illustrates, each of the major nation-states had its own particular goals in rearming, but they all seemed to be preparing for total war, and their planners’ determination to be “prepared” is portrayed as obsessive. A provocative work that is likely to cause considerable debate. --Jay FreemanSee all Editorial Reviews
This really could have been a truly excellent book. The author writes beautifully, has a commanding grasp of his subject, and does excellent primary research. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jeff
What the title of this book should have been would be something like "The dynamics of rearmament and their effect on the policies and actions of the Great Powers 1931-1941". Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alexander T. Gafford
This book has received mostly suspiciously effusive but vacuous reviews, not just here but also in professional fora like the H-DIPLO roundtable, which incidentally is co-sponsored... Read morePublished on August 2, 2011 by bonchance
The history of our race to rearm
By STEPHEN FRATER, author of HELL ABOVE EARTH
After the First World War, the broke and blood-drained Great Powers disarmed. Read more
The author's thesis is not novel at all and I will not restate it for those of the other reviewers are adequate. Read morePublished on December 26, 2010 by Mark R. Jorgensen
The author has a thesis of the arms race driving the diplomacy instead of the reverse. He's done a good job of researching the arms race but a less than stellar job of tying it to... Read morePublished on December 7, 2010 by Daniel S. Palter
What a brilliant book! There is a vast literature on the origins of the World War Two. The broad outlines of the story are familiar to many: the unresolved issues of World War One;... Read morePublished on November 24, 2010 by James