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A War To Be Won: Fighting the Second World War Fourth Printing Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674006805
ISBN-10: 0674006801
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scholarship and insight place this book in the front rank of military history written in the 20th century's final decade. The authorsDMurray is senior fellow at Washington's Institute for Defense Analyses and Millett is a chaired professor of military history at Ohio StateDmake no secret of their convictions on personal, institutional and operational issues, but are nevertheless remarkably successful at avoiding the armchair debunking that mars so many histories of the period. Backed by meticulous operational analysis, Murray and Millett compellingly view the war as a death grapple between civilization (however imperfect) and genocidal, racist imperialism. Both sides absorbed unprecedented levels of punishment and still functioned effectively, yet the authors show that the Allies mobilized resources to an extraordinary degree and developed unprecedented levels of cooperation against Germany and Japan, with U.S. armed forces in particular demonstrating high learning curves. After recovering from Stalin's purges, by 1943 the Red Army was successfully combining numbers and technology to take full advantage of every opportunity offered by a declining Wehrmacht. On the other side of the front, instead of making the hard choices required by Germany's limited resources, Hitler and his military leaders attempted everything simultaneously. They increasingly substituted ideology for men and equipment. Japan, too, fought a vitalist war, with will power unsuccessfully substituting for both fire power and rational calculation. The result, Murray and Millett brilliantly show, was to exclude negotiation and persuasion, leaving victory in battle the only choice in modern history's only total war. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Any attempted one-volume study of World War II must either be superficial or a large book. Two distinguished military historians choose the latter course, with satisfactory, if not perfect, results. They effectively combine narrative, analysis, and backgrounding on economics, technology, etc., and, therefore, can be profitably read by comparative newcomers to military history. An occasional fact has gone astray (the Japanese had more than a "reinforced division" in Manchuria in 1939), the grasp of naval affairs isn't quite as firm as that of land and air doings, and the authors have an axe to grind against Douglas MacArthur. But the quantity of data crammed between the book's covers, including particularly fine treatment of the war on the Eastern Front, compensates for those shortcomings. Murray and Millett unapologetically consider the war just and necessary, refuting those who have challenged that view without ever mentioning them. If a trifle below the level of achievement of Gerhard L. Weinberg's A World at Arms (1994), this book can rest on the same shelf deservedly. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Fourth Printing edition (November 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674006801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674006805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This excellent book continues the approach to warfare taken by the authors in their outstanding three-volume edited series: "Military Effectiveness" published about a decade ago. That book looked at the First World War and the Second World War (including the interwar period) from the standpoint of each participating nation. It set up the standard of "military effectiveness", taken at the levels of grand strategy/national policy (to include industrial and economic preparation) strategy (operational war plans) and battlefield performance (operational or theater level of war and tactics of divisions to brigades). They have applied this thorough and enlightening analysis to the present volume. This focus makes for an excellent "operational history" of the war. The emphasis is on the work of armies, corps and divisions in theater-level operations, as opposed to the tales of derring-do at the company or platoon level. However, one gets a good sense of the plight of the men at the point of contact. The field commanders are thoroughly and fairly assessed. Montgomery, for example, is given his due as a great planner and a great leader of men, but a testy martinet when it came to inter-allied coordination. I would say that our British cousins would not find any Monty-bashing here. Rommel likewise is fairly handled. Guderian's halo is removed;his role as a "good Nazi" does not detract from his reputation as a hard-charger, but his brashness in dealing with his colleagues in other units is brought out.
Throughout, there is a constant interplay between the pre-war plans and preparations with the results of each operation. National temperament and command styles are neatly summarized.
There is no waste of words.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing product by two of this country's most prolific military historians. Millett and Murray have teamed together before as teachers, lecturers and authors, but this is their finest hour. More than 600 pages, a dozen well crafted maps and 64 photographs are employed to produce a stunning operational narrative of this century's bloodiest and most deadly conflict. From the early days of the war in Europe to the final blasts in Japan, this duo combines their 50 years of teaching experience and punchy prose into a highly readable, entertaining and educating package. Nowhere will the reader find a better combination of sweeping coverage and sharp conclusions about all the Second World War's major campaigns and operations. Furthermore, nowhere will the reader find the striking and damning conclusions the author's lay at the feet of Generals Bradley and Clark, as well as the pithy and well earned barbs directed at Field Marshal Montgomery. This tightly composed volume is now and will be the best single volume operational history ever written on WWII. It will quickly displace the work of John Keegan and Gerhard Weinberg, and rightfully so. It will be enjoyed by veterans of the war, students of history, and all military professionals. Recent books by great historians like Stephen Ambrose have highlighted the human dimension of what the Greatest Generation was like and how they faced daunting demands of martial combat. In A War To Be Won you will find exactly what they faced and how it was done. Very few historians have the experience, breadth and tenacity to take on such a monumental history. This pair has done it and done it admirably. Their scholarship and insights will not be easily surpassed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book, which is a bit off-putting due to its size and breadth. As long as one has a bit of time on his or her hands, this is a useful and entertaining way to spend some quality time with yourself in the company of two excellent history writers. The book has an amazing scope, and like Gerhard Weinberg's "A World At Arms" has a mammoth and daunting job at hand to describe the total scope and kaleidoscope of activities contained under the rubric of the second world war.
The authors here are much more forthcoming than was Weinhard in discussing specific battlefield details of particular engagements, and this adds to the book's considerable value and readability to history buffs like myself. I enjoy their liberal employment of relevant economic, technological, geographical and other factors in describing the whos, hows, whens, wheres and whys of specific struggles as well as in describing the nature of the overall socio-political aspects of the war. So, when they subsequently launch into discussing their uniquely constructed "standards of military effectiveness", they add to its value by buttressing their findings with a wealth of different kinds of supporting data, information, and background that makes the total overview of the war much more understandable than it would be otherwise.
The book does suffer from some minor drawbacks, such as the authors' obvious quarrel with the contributions and strategies of Douglas MacArthur, yet they are also suitably fastidious in pointing out his many contributions and effective tactics as well.
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