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The Second World War Hardcover – June 5, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316023744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316023740
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for THE SECOND WORLD WAR:

"[Beevor's] book is the definitive history. This is World War II as Tolstoy would have described it - the great and the small."—Washington Post

"Antony Beevor's The Second World War is simply the ultimate Second World War history: it brings these vast events to life, from high strategy to suffering humanity, from the dictators to the ordinary soldier."—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daily Telegraph

"A powerful narrative of World War II...a gripping account...Beevor's trademark...is the use of eyewitness testimony to deliver haunting particulars."—Richard Toye, New York Times Book Review

"Ever present is Beevor's skill in blending the strategizing of military chiefs with the ordinary soldiers they ordered about. . . Few will match his masterly overview, and no one will be unmoved by the ordeals and achievements that he so powerfully describes."—Globe and Mail

"The Second World War is a comprehensive capstone...a page-turner...[and] a kaleidoscope of individual experiences in a context of continuous choices...[Beevor's] command of a comprehensive spectrum of sources enables him to present the war from the perspective of its participants...Beevor brilliantly shows, at all levels, that WWII defies easy generalization."—Publishers Weekly

"Beevor has delivered an epic, brilliantly researched work on the defining event of the 20th century... his new research and his pitch-perfect narrative represent a truly astonishing display of art and craft... This book, which crowns Beevor's distinguished and bestselling career, is one of the nonfiction events of the decade and for this reader, is by far the best nonfiction of 2012 to date."—Stephen Frater, author of Hell Above Earth, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

"In this kaleidoscopic, one-volume account, a prize-winning historian shows his eye for telling anecdotes, his command of myriad facts, his sharply evocative prose and his skill at conjuring the big picture."—New Orleans Times-Picayune

"Anyone looking for a comprehensive military history of the Second World War that combines high strategy and politics but also takes full account of the war's human dimensions need look no further."—Winnipeg Free Press

"A general history of the war needs to embrace this variety of experience and capture the interplay between the momentous events unfolding on different continents and the high seas. Antony Beevor effectively meets this challenge. A former British army officer and author of admired works on Stalingrad and the Allied invasion of Normandy, Beevor is a gifted writer who knows how to keep a good story rolling. . . The brutality and courage of individual soldiers and civilians emerge in Beevor's powerful accounts. . . Beevor's book is a pleasure to read and an example of intelligent, lively historical writing at its best."—The Financial Times

"Every page is imbued with the sense that this man really knows what he is talking about ... Beevor's human and logistical capacities, in combination, inform the gripping accounts of some of the great set-piece confrontations that determined the outcome of the war."—Peter Clarke, The New Republic

"Antony Beevor makes the reader believe in the impossible: that he could write a history of magisterial authority about the greatest war of modern times and do justice to the global reach of that war...."—The Washington Times

"Readers who may instinctively recoil from another book about the worldwide turmoil of 1939-1945 would be unwise to ignore this one. . . Always at ease with the conduct of battle, Beevor displays his grasp of the German Army's professionalism and tactical skill at all levels of command, as well as Stalin's metamorphosis from paranoid political tyrant to master of history's most enormous battlefield. . . Once action is joined and false assumptions are exposed, Beevor is ruthless in dissecting them, whether featured in the fortunes of friend, foe or - despite their grit and resolve - in our own armed forces."—Michael Tillotson, The Times

"Brilliantly written...Beevor's account [is] incomparably vivid...[a] magnificently readable book."—The New York Review of Books

"You feel yourself being carried along on the narrative flow, channeled this way and that through the pools and rapids by Beevor's expert helmsmanship. As we have come to expect from the author, great events are leavened by telling vignettes and anecdotes."—Patrick Bishop, Standpoint

"An outstanding example of narrative history at its best, at once scholarly, enlightening, entertaining and thought-provoking."—The Tablet

"Everything is pared down to serve the relentless thrust of his storytelling. The result is a magnificent performance - true excitement from one page to the next delivered in faultless prose. . . Beevor offers superbly vivid accounts, often with tiny details that will surprise even those who gorge themselves on shot and ball histories."—Christopher Silvester, Daily Express

"The chapters on the Nazi-Soviet war find Beevor at the top of his game, in command of a huge range of sources, with a fine eye for place and detail, deftly manipulating incident and character, and making effective use of soldiers' diaries and letters to create a vast human tapestry of war. The prose is relaxed and contains a spring in every paragraph. He excels too at grand strategy - as a diplomatic historian, he is a match for AJP Taylor. The conferences at Casablanca, Tehran, Yalta and so on, which can have their longeurs, here sparkle with wit and insight, especially into the behaviour of Stalin. There are revelations too."—Ben Shephard, Observer

"This book is a perfect mixture of world history and human experience, unbiased and highly readable."—The Journal

"Brocaded with details of the great campaigns and thoughtful explanations of Hitler's murderous belligerency, The Second World War is an absorbing, unsparingly lucid work of military history...exceptionally powerful."—Ian Thomson, The Spectator

"Antony Beevor's remarkably informative and well-written book . . . Beevor's enormous strength is that he can sketch out complicated campaigns clearly. . . Antony Beevor has done splendid justice to this [the bombing of Germany] and to a very great deal else."—Norman Stone, Literary Review

"A war epic close to perfection."—Mail on Sunday

"The level of operational command, rather than grand strategy or the horrors of front line experience, shapes the magisterial narrative of the Second World War. Its military history is presented chronologically, with chapter titles which convey the simultaneity and interconnectedness of events in very different theatres. This is the place to begin if you need to get your knowledge of the war in order. Beevor is not afraid to quote the familiar when it is important or to let his favourite voices have their say but he also provides plenty of fresh insights for those who kid themselves that they know the story already."—Hew Strachan, Evening Standard

"This is history writ large. . . unexpected vignettes linger in the memory."—Daily Telegraph

"This memorable vignette is one of hundreds in Antony Beevor's utterly absorbing history of the Second World War. Beevor is justly celebrated for recounting the human realities of war. . . Beevor is committed to telling the truth about war, with all its painful contradictions. . . Beevor does not flinch: this is as comprehensive and objective account of the course of the war as we are likely to get, and the most humanly moving to date."—John Gray, New Statesman

"Judged against his own high standards of readability there is no doubt that The Second World War succeeds very well indeed. . . This is an immensely readable book, not least for the manner in which it blends together high strategy with the view from below. . . A masterful narrative history."—History Today

"If you only know the outlines of World War II, I would very heartily recommend it."—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

"His monumental and magisterial history of the Second World War . . . Beevor is excellent at catching the individual in the flood tide of events. . . Few can match his superbly controlled narrative."—Sunday Express

"With engaging prose and a remarkable ability to clarify and simplify massive and complex events, Beevor has once again demonstrated why he is a pre-eminent historian on the subject...the book is essential reading for anyone seeking to learn more about World War II and its consequences...[it] is always captivating and informative...It is hard to imagine how he will ever top this masterpiece of historical scholarship."—Army Magazine

"The narrative never flags and the myriad pieces of this intricate kaleidoscope are pieced together with exemplary skill...This is a splendid book, erudite, with admirable clarity of thought and expression."—Roger Moorhouse, The Independent on Sunday

Praise for D-DAY:

"Glorious, horrifying...D-Day is a vibrant work of history that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of men and women."—Time

"One of Beevor's strengths is his ability to describe the day-to-day experience of ordinary soldiers: the food, the weather, the smells, the humor, the fear. . . Perhaps this is what makes Beevor's D-Day such terrific reading. It details the shattering reality of D-Day and the months of savage fighting that followed instead of offering empty mythologizing. This is that rare hardcover worth your valuable attention and money."—USA Today

"The first impression on seeing D-Day on the bookshelf might be a question, "Why yet another book on D-Day?" The answer comes through in the detailed research and exhaustive treatment of individual stories as the Allies lodged ashore and then advanced on that fateful day and after, all the way to Paris...For anyone with any interest at all in World War II in Europe, especially the time from the landings through the liberation of Paris, D-Day is the book for you."—Vice-Admiral Robert F. Dunn, Washington Times

"This is a superb book and a model of the historian's craft. It stands as the best one-volume history of this decisive military engagement."—Christian Science Monitor

"His account of atrocities on both sides, of errors committed and of surpassing bravery makes for excellent -- though often blood-soaked -- reading. Beevor gets better with each book."—Kirkus Reviews

"Beevor's history is becoming World War II's definitive account.—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Beevor's book is a great look at how we think about "good" and "evil."—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

About the Author

Antony Beevor served as a regular officer in the 11th Hussars in Germany. He is the author of Crete-The Battle and the Resistance, which won a Runciman Prize, Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper), Stalingrad, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature, Berlin-The Downfall, which received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award, The Mystery of Olga Chekhova and, most recently, the bestseller, D-Day. He lives in London.

More About the Author

A regular in the 11th Hussars, Antony Beevor served in Germany and England. He has had a number of books published and his book Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. Among the many prestigious posts he holds, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Customer Reviews

Recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Military History.
Gwain
There are more books covering a more indepth look at specific topics but for an over all view of the war as a whole, Beevor has written a very complete work.
ReaderOne
All in all though, this is a very well written and fast reading book.
Travis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 198 people found the following review helpful By Lake on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are two interesting recent books out that detail the vast scope of WWII. I've bought both (and read other histories of the war), and can give some details as to their differences.

This book is a typical descriptive historical narrative of the war. It is great single source for those who haven't read a comprehensive history of it. It fairly and with good balance describes the political background and military events and while the writing is somewhat prosaic it is not 'dry', and it gives a well detailed overview of the events.

Hastings book "Inferno" (published in Britain as "All Hell Let Loose") carries with it a lot more personal observations from diaries, letters, etc of the participants, and clearly is written with the authors own subjective interpretation or points of view on the events, rather than being a pure description of the historical events. The writing is more elegant and provocative, as befits the journalist background of the author.

If one has no knowledge of this titanic struggle I would start with Beevor's book so as to capture the events and timelines as they historically occurred, written in a very readable manner. On the other hand if one is familiar with most of the history I would recommend Hasting's book as a source of opinionated (but supported) insight, along with the many descriptions of the war by participants that are included in his narrative and relate to the historical events.

Both are excellent in their own ways. They provide: 1)in the terms of Beevor's book a well written and accurate single volume historical description of the war and 2) in Hastings a more 'op-ed' description with personal stories of the conflict that he has derived from letters, diaries, interviews etc.
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258 of 271 people found the following review helpful By A. Jogalekar VINE VOICE on June 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The sheer immensity of the Second World War is even now, after more ink has been spilt on it than on almost any other event in history, almost impossible to grasp. The war affected countless people in every conceivable small and big way, it changed the fate of innumerable nations and set the tone for issues with which we are still grappling, and it showcased the very best and very worst in human nature. Very few historians are capable of capturing this epic panorama of tragedy and triumph on paper. Happily for us, Antony Beevor is one of those chosen few who can. In the past few decades he has established himself as a war historian of the first rank. This volume can be seen as the culmination of a stellar career during which he has introduced us to the very nature of war and its human elements. Beevor's sweeping, magisterial account of this great conflict excels in three ways that are characteristic of his past scholarship on D-Day, Stalingrad and Berlin.

Firstly, Beevor delivers the raw strategic and historical facts with a relentless, crisp pace, covering all major events, participants and theaters of war. The history is informed by a treasure trove of material cited in the notes, including personal sources such as the invaluable diary of Soviet correspondent Vasily Grossman. There are 50 chapters and the title of each chapter reflects the one or two key events narrated in it. The brevity of the chapters makes the book accessible and great for bedtime reading. A particular skill of Beevor's is in condensing the most important information in relatively brief paragraphs. Rather than provide separate extended quotes from the prime participants, he excerpts these quotes within the paragraphs.
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139 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on June 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thanks to recent good World War Two books (such as the masterpiece "Inferno" by Max Hastings) and enduring WWII classics, readers have a wealth of great WWII history books to choose from. The world tore itself apart in flames of war sweeping across planet Earth. 70 million people horrifically died. Beevor's WWII overview of WWII is especially good at filling in important details.

See WWII book list below.

Now Antony Beevor, an accomplished British historian of the Second World War (including "Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege"), has produced a comprehensive narrative of World War II that is one of the best. So much information is packed in each concise paragraph. Some of the stories are astonishing: Unprecedented combat violence across the globe. Cold exterminations. Textbook military tactics and misguided blunders. Rapes. Critical strategic interpretations are sometimes amiss or missing, unfortunately in this book, including the aims of Nazi ideology and USA's emerging influence for a new post-war world of free determination and free trade, as compared to the world before WWII with colonialism and the Versailles Treaty.

Contrasting Beevor's "Second World War" against other great and recent WWII overview books, this book has fewer gaps in details, without the book seeming scattered. For example, "Storm of War" by British historian Andrew Roberts focuses on Hitler and has "must read" interpretations, but the coverage of the Pacific is light. In contrast, Beevor's book has great coverage of Japan's overlooked war in China that killed millions and details other important areas. The bloodbath Eastern Front is covered well in both books.
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