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The Origins of the Second World War Paperback – July 12, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1405824699 ISBN-10: 1405824697 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3rd edition (July 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405824697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405824699
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Origins of the Second World War explores the reasons why the Second World War broke out in September 1939 and not sooner, and why a European war expanded into world war by 1941.

Richard Overy argues that this was not just ‘Hitler’s War’ but one that had its roots and origins in the decline of the old empires of Britain and France and the rise of ambitious new powers in Germany, Italy and Japan. Any explanation of the outbreak of hostilities must be multinational in scope taking into account the basic instability of the international system that had still not recovered from the shocks of the Great War.  

In this third edition:

·         The role of Italy in the approach to war has been re-evaluated

·         Overy addresses recent revelations about Soviet policy in the 1930s, particularly exploring Soviet military planning and preparations

·         Arguments about Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement are rethought and reassessed.

This new edition has now been completely overhauled, updated, expanded and reset. With a comprehensive documents section, colour plates, guide to who’s who, a chronology and lists of further reading, The Origins of the Second World War will provide an invaluable introduction to any student of this fascinating period.

Richard Overy is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He has authored 17 books on the Third Reich, the Second World War and air warfare which include:The Air War 1939-1945 (2nd ed, 2006),Why the Allies Won (2nd ed, 2006) and The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia (2004) which won both the Wolfson and the  Hessell Tiltman Prizes for History in 2005.

About the Author

Richard Overy is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He has authored 17 books on the Third Reich, the Second World War and air warfare which include:The Air War 1939-1945 (2nd ed, 2006), Why the Allies Won (2nd ed, 2006) and The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004) which won both the Wolfson and the Hessell Tiltman Prizes for History in 2005.

Customer Reviews

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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on January 6, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this interesting, provocative, and comprehensive overview of the antecedents leading up to and causing the onset of the Second World War, noted British historian Richard Overy ("Why The Allies Won", "Russia's War") presents a masterful summary of the complex welter of factors influencing the drift into conflict between the Axis powers and the more established powers of Britain and France. Overy carefully articulates the ways in which a multiplicity of factors created a power vacuum as well as an associated change in the balance of power such that the existing world order created at the close of the First World War became increasingly fragile and dysfunctional. It was into this moment of recognized weakness in both the British and French empires that the German, Japanese, and Italian governments sought to create their own empires at the expense of the existing order.
This, of course, varies from the conventional belief that World War Two was singularly Hitler's war, one that he alone created and prosecuted against the good will and conventional moral purposes of the powers that be. Yet Overy argues quite convincingly that this is hardly a fair or objective reading of the historical record, since the policies of appeasement pursued by both Britain and France were hardly moral, being rather more organized around preserving their own political, economic, and military advantage than around any kind of democratic values or concern for the common good. While it is true that Hitler aggressively sought to change the existing framework to the benefit of the German state, it is hardly true that the political or economic policies of the other world powers were in any fashion necessarily more selfless or altruistic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard C. Geschke VINE VOICE on July 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In reading this rather short synopsis of the origins of World War II by Mr. Overy, one realizes that this is but a quick thumbnail sketch overview of the cause of the War. The work is by no means meant to be an all inclusive study of the origins of World War II. In essence what Overy does is to give us an outline which includes the main characters, treaties, political climate economic considerations and basic thoughts and motives of all the key Nations.
In fact this book could easily be used as the text for such a course in the origins of the Second World War. It should be only used as a text, other more thorough works would be used to enrich the student in the deeper aspects of this historical narrative. However, Overy does bring new material into the mix, especially in the activities of Russia's military preparedness.
The book should be used as a general reference or even as a college text. The meat of the prose utilizes basic facts and conclusions and transitions to other events which serve as a basic outline to these important formative events.
This narrative is by no way a definitive work of what happened in the cause and effect actions prior to and during the beginnings of World War II. This book if used as a guide and basic reference will be a 5 Star historical gem welcomed in any library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yoda on April 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite this book's relatively short length it provides a very good survey of the causes of the Second World War. This survey is not only useful to undergraduates who are interested in touching upon the subject but it is also of interest to even those with good background in the subject. This is because Overy, the author, not only covers many of the commonly covered causes in the war in the general literature (i.e., the pre-war arm's race, etc.) but there is an excellent discussion of other factors that are not that commonly covered. These include the fact that the axis powers, for example, had no access to material resources, a fact greatly exasperated by the Great Depression. In addition, Overy does an excellent job at pointing out that France and Britain's military potential peaked in the 1939-1904 period while Germany's and the Soviet Union's were going to peak in the 1943 -1944 period. Hence, if France and England were going to declare war, it would have to be in that period. The third edition of this book, unlike the first and second, incorporates material that has become available to the public on the Soviet Union (i.e., military strength) that was not available previously. Hence, even though the third edition is considerably more expensive than the first two editions, the money is well spent.

There are a few problems with the book, however. These do not permit this reviewer to grant this book a five star rating. The most important involves the fact that the book underplays the role of Hitler motivation and ideology as a cause of the war. Considering Hitler's stated goals, made quite explicit in Mein Kumpf, Overy does not give them the coverage they should have had.
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