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History of the Second World War Hardcover – May 18, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A remarkable tour de force by one of the greatest military thinkers of the century. --Life Magazine.On the level of strictly operational military history, the best book about [WWII] we are ever likely to see. --The London Times

On the level of strictly operational military history, the best book about [WWII] we are ever likely to see. --The London Times

About the Author

Sir Basil Liddell Hart (1895-1970) was the greatest military thinker of the twentieth century, whose ideas revolutionized the art of war. A student at Cambridge University at the outbreak of World War I, he joined the army and rose to the rank of captain. He retired from the army in 1927 to devote his time to writing. He was military correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and adviser on defense to The London Times, and military editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He lectured at Cambridge and served as personal adviser to War Minister Leslie Hore-Belisha in the reorganization of the British Army in the run-up to World War II. He was the author of more than thirty books and had an enormous influence on military thinking about mechanized warfare.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 766 pages
  • Publisher: Konecky & Konecky (May 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156852627X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568526270
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Epops on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Captain Basil Liddell Hart was the most famous military historian of the 20th century. Everything he wrote is worth reading, and this is one of his best.

His style is clear, direct, and easy to read. He leaves you in no doubt as to what he thinks. He loves to say "I told you so", and was in a better position than most to exercise that unbecoming character trait. I don't know of any other historian who can say, as L.H. does:

"When in November, 1933, I was consulted as to how our fast tank formations - which the War Office was just beginning to form - could best be used in a future war I had suggested that, in the event of a German invasion of France, we should deliver a tank counterattack through the Ardennes. I was thereupon told that 'the Ardennes were impassible to tanks', to which I replied that, from personal study of the terrain, I regarded such a view as a delusion - as I had emphasized in several books between the wars."

Guderian's tank attack through the Ardennes in 1940 and the German Ardennes tank offensive of 1944 fully justify L.H.'s right to say "I told you so."

This is a straightforward chronological history of the military operations of the major belligerent powers of the Second World War, so much is left out that appears in more general histories. Also, it was written before the "Ultra" and other secret operations were declassified, which is a drawback. However, current thinking is shifting on the subject of just how much these operations actually contributed to Allied victory (see John Keegan's recent "Intelligence in War", for example), so that his commentary on the strategic and tactical mistakes of the various combatants is still very much worth reading.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hochberg on March 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Liddell Hart was one of the great military thinkers of this century. His theories of strategy and mobile warfare influenced generals on both sides in the Second World War. In this volume, he applies his powers of strategic analysis to the events of that war to provide a coherent and compelling narrative. Liddell Hart's was the first general history of World War II that gave me a sense of the overall logic of events rather than simply a collection of battle stories.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By VanGo on June 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
From the outset a presumably simple question needs to be posed and answered, due to the attributed authoritativeness of author Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart. Does this history of the Second World War give an exact account of the global war between the Axis Powers and The Allies from 1939 to 1945?
The answer is emphatically yes, but a distinction must be made. This book took me two months to read, taking into account its length this was not especially poor for a general history reader. But I believe the reason behind the prolongued read is precisely because it is not an account for general readership but for the reader of military history - it is in short, a military and strategist's view of the Second World War. An important categorization that I hope is understood.
This does not mean however that its worth is negated for the general reader. Liddell Hart's history is as thorough and epic in scale as the war itself, authored by an experienced military strategist who bore witness to its prosecution, it holds unique and valuable insight. Of particular value is the inclusion of German accounts of the war from interrogations and interviews made by the author.
Great eruditeness is also shown in describing the varying campaigns, invasions, battlefields, and military plans of all sides. The sheer detail he offers is immense and because of this nothing is gleaned over, of considerable use in gathering a full account of actual fighting. In addition, something of the art if essentially chaotic nature of the war and indeed warfare as a whole is infused into the reader's mind.
Yet, all this could have been achieved with much greater effect and with less long-winded and relentless detail if it had contained more frequent accounts from the protagonists involved.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on July 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
History of Second World War proves to be a well written and highly insightful book on the Second World War. The author, Capt. B.H. Liddell Hart was a well known military analysist and proponent of armor theories between the two world wars and when he died in the 1970s, he was known as the "Captain who taught generals". He was also British so it will not be surprising that the book take a British-centric view of the war (many American authors often take an American centric view as well).

The book covers all aspects of the war although it pretty heavy where the British military was involved in the most. I read this book back in 1975 when it was initially available to me and I was surprised by its originality that maybe today's readers may not notice. The book was one of the first to be heavily criticial of many of the decisions made by FDR and Churchill. The book supported the concept that Hitler's invasion of Russia wasn't a mistake but what he did after the invasion was. There were other pretty original thoughts written here which turned out to be matter of facts today to a well read reader. I didn't mind Liddell Hart's 20/20 Monday morning quarterbacking since its a job of any historian to judge the actions of the past and make an analysis of what went wrong or right. In this, the author did an excellent job.

The author, who also wrote a well received and well regarded book titled "Strategy" which advocate the "indirect strategy" approach, often harped on this element in this book. He praised highly to those who uses elements from "Strategy" and lamented those who do not.

The book is extremely readable and on the whole, pretty fair in outlook.
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