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The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food Hardcover
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Ms Collingham described in her book the policies of production, distribution and consumption of food from 1939 to 1945 in five main fighting powers: United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, Third Reich and Japan. Her writing is excellent and this book is as easy to read as if it was a novel. She describes with great precision the deadly "hunger exportation" to the East by the Third Reich in order to feed German population and the huge armed forces. Even more incredible chapter is devoted to Japan, whose leaders didn't hesitate to risk the starvation of their own soldiers in the most distant campigns (Burma, New Guinea). Hunger in Soviet Union is also described thanks to the effort of research, including sources known since long time ago, but left untreated. Finally, the much more succesful approach of the British and especially the war time boom of farming in United States bring some light in this otherwise extremely shocking and dark story.
Other than the amount of new information I was particularly impressed by the care for details, including the writing of names of people and towns. Being Polish, I couldn't help but notice that in most British and American publications names in Polish are almost always misspelled, even if they are not particularly difficult. In this book, when areas in Nazi occupied Poland are described, I couldn't find even one single error, not even when the good town of Szczebrzeszyn was mentioned - and with this name even we Poles have a lot of trouble...Read more ›
Collingham's scope is broad, which is both an asset and a liability. It is evident that she wishes to cover the whole range of food as a theme of the war, from top-level agricultural policy to the contents of the individual rations. Such an ambition is laudable, but forces her to treat matters which are evidently not within her ordinary area of expertise and to rely overwhelmingly on secondary sources, sometimes of variable quality. A number of errors, sometimes serious errors, are carried over wholesale from too uncritically read previous studies; for just one example, our author exhibits an unsound reliance on the German leftist historian Christian Gerlach, whose findings -- Which are controversial, to say the least, within German academe -- are largely presented as factual truth. On a less serious note, "flavor text" and "human interest" materials are sometimes lifted from discredited sources, such as the purported (but in truth, fraudulent) diaries of Marie Vassiltchikov.
On the other hand, Collingham is surely correct to highlight the crucial importance of the food supply to the whole sequence of the war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought that I knew how WWII changed the world, but this book uncovers underlying reasons that show that not only was war inevitable, but how it changed the world for (mostly)... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jeffrey Lowers
Excellent book about how food decisions made for critical outcomes in war, or had contributed in some way to it.Published on January 26, 2014 by D. Smith
Well written with the first chapter being an executive summary and the following chapters focusing on individual countries and policy impacts.Published on December 14, 2013 by Llew