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A Short History of World War II Paperback – January 1, 1980

47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0688085872 ISBN-10: 0688085873 Edition: 19th Printing

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James L. Stokesbury is the author of A Short History of World War I, A Short History of World War II, A Short History of the Korean War, and A Short History of the American Revolution. Before his death in 1995 he was a professor of history at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Product Details

  • Series: Short History
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 19th Printing edition (January 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688085873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688085872
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Raymond H. Mullen VINE VOICE on December 12, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some books, you read, place on a shelf, and never return to them. This is not one of those books. As my library is overflowing with Civil War and WWII books, there are now TWO that I use for study and reference. "Battle Cry of Freedom' by James McPherson is, in my opinion the best one volumn overview of the Civil War ever written.

"A Short History of WWII" is in that same category as far as a complete, one volumn acount of this period of history. It is in depth, yet very readable. When I finished, my copy was tattered, dog,eared, high-lighted, and contained many of my personal observations in the columns.

I will return to it as I continue my study of WWII. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that I would have liked to had more complete maps denoting troop movements. If you're reading my review, you must be considering buying this book. My recommendation is "Buy it, without a doubt. You will not be disappointed."
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Lovett on August 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book sets an impossible task...and very nearly succeeds. The rub is in the phrase "short history." If there's one central lesson to be drawn from this book it's that World War II was immensely complex, with ramifications so vast that it's impossible to discuss them all at any depth in a "short" book. At 150,000 or so words, this book is a lot more than an outline, but it's still forced to abbreviate. If you're interested in details about any given campaign, or any given individual, you're going to be disappointed; if you have a favorite World War II topic or personality, you're bound to feel that it's been given short shrift. Even the most famous battles rarely rate more than a page or two. Where this book triumphs is in putting presenting the big picture--military, political, and to some extent cultural--and in drawing interconnections such as why the North Africa campaigns sucked the Allies into a nightmare slog down the Italian peninsula, or how Germany's conquest of Norway helped tip the scales in the Battle of Britain.
Overall, this is a masterful achievement. Is it flag-waving, as some would say? Perhaps--but remember, the author's writing from Nova Scotia, which gives him a Canadian-eye view that allows some detachment in his references to "the British" or "the Americans." (Given the fact he was writing in 1980, that might also explain why he takes a dim view of De Gaule, whose post-war association with French Canada stirred many resentments.)
Stokesbury clearly views this war as the crowning achievement of "The Greatest Generation," even if the book pre-dates that phrase. And maybe he's right. Highly recommended, especially to those wanting to put recent World War II movies into context.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous996 on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Simply a superbly written broad history of World War II. I loved this book because it reads much like a novel and has the proper amount of detail without becoming mired in it. Pre-war causes and crisis were given a great amount of emphasis, and focuses on all aspects of the War. Interesting focus on Axis mistakes which cost them the War. Proper emphasis on the Eastern front is given as well as the falicy of French defensive tactics and frankly, this is the best easy reading, broad topic, book on World War II that I have found so far, suitable for beginners and people with extensive WWII knowledge.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
For someone who doesn't know much about World War II, this is a recommended book. It gives you just enough history to understand the different aspects of the war, but doesn't flood you with too much technical information. I'm glad I read this, and recommend it to anyone else that is new to this period of history, or just wants a nice summary to begin with.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. C. Moore on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you who are inclined to overrating, please don't be deterred by my 3 star review (plus, its more like a 3.5 star review.) Keep in mind that few subjects are as complicated or have had so much ink spilt over as World War II. One of the hardest issues facing a reader is determining which book to read when.

The wide breadth and shallow depth of this book suited me quite well due to my embarrassingly poor grasp on the major events of WWII. Prior to this book, my piecemeal understanding of the subject was derived mainly from movies, documentaries, and more recently a few WWII memoirs. Stokesbury paints broadly with a wide brush and offers only modest levels of commentary on major events. Though Stokesbury, as any WWII author must do, was forced to jump from arena to arena and thus time frame to time frame, this book is organized chronologically by arena. I appreciated how the author often gave more attention to the catalysts that sparked individual conflicts than the conflicts themselves. In my judgment, this is critical for one's understanding of a major military conflict.

I did have a few minor disappointments. For those reading the kindle edition, the maps are both scarce and of such poor quality that they proves to be worthless. One must read this book in the company of a good atlas. I used a cheap one: Historical Atlas of World War II. Also, Stokesbury's prose was a little wooden and clunky at times but still quite readable. My most significant concern about this book was the glaring lack of citations. Though the author provides a 20 page annotated bibliography, he does not use notes.
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