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A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II Paperback – March 28, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0521618267 ISBN-10: 0521618266 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1208 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (March 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521618266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521618267
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is an extraordinary book. Moral and human feelings underpin his copious scholarship at every point, giving admirable depth and dimension to this monumental intellectual performance." Paul Fussell, The Washington Post

"...a coherent--in fact, hypnotic--narrative offered up in a single, handsome volume... surely the finest one-volume history we have of the most important event of the century." American Heritage --

Book Description

Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this is the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and her colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II. Actions of the Axis, the Allies, and the Neutrals are covered in every theater of the war. More importantly, the global nature of the war is examined, with new insights into how events in one corner of the world helped affect events in other distant parts.

Customer Reviews

The most comprehensive diplomatic history of World War II ever produced.
Amazon Customer
Weinberg doesn't seem to care about this problem as long as it serves the point in showing the despicable nature of the Germans or the Japanese.
Weinberg narrates the events of the war, but he is most interested in the broader, global perspective, as his title makes clear.
Peter Ramming

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Ted on September 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Weinberg's massive, masterful book deserves all the praise heaped upon it in these Amazon reviews, despite the fact that its prose is maddeningly clumsy, requiring one to read many of his sentences several times to figure out their meaning. (What a shame that such impressive scholarship was not matched by a more graceful writing style!) I admired the book so much that, when the current "New Edition" came out, I bought it, intending to replace the old one. But I've done a cursory comparison, and to my annoyance, while this edition sports a new preface and may contain some "corrections" that Weinberg alludes to, in almost every respect it seems identical to the old: same page numbers, exact same words beginning and ending every page... It certainly isn't the updated, revised work that the label implies. In fact, I was unable to find a single word that had been changed.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David M. Dougherty VINE VOICE on August 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Certainly the premier one-volume work on the Send World War, this tome by Professor Weinberg sets a daunting standard by which to judge other such works. But caution! This is a book covering the political, diplomatic and high-level aspect of the war, not the military part (although it is included as necessary.)

So why only four stars? Several reasons:

Although the author makes extensive use of end notes, they support his facts, not his opinions or generalizations from analysis. These remain his own. Statements such as, "As it became increasingly obvious to the Germans ... they..." are hardly scholarly. What Germans? Who are "they?" Hitler? OKW? OKH?

Weinberg also makes very controversial statements such as, "The American President hoped to avoid open warfare with Germany altogether." His support for that contention is weak, and the proof offered by using the Enigma intercepts to avoid German submarines is hardly convincing. Roosevelt knew full well that American anti-submarine capabilities were less than adaquate at the time, and indeed heavy losses were incurred in 1942. On the contrary, Roosevelt tightened the screws on the Japanese coincident with the German invasion of Russia, and he became increasingly desperate to bring the US into the war while the Soviet Union was still a viable ally. When the Wehrmacht approached Moscow in November, 1941, Roosevelt literally forced Japan to take action of some kind knowing that such action would commit a reluctant US population to entering the war and motivate it to win a long term conflict. In fact, this is the type of global approach and analysis that has made Weinberg famous, but here it is lacking.

Even some of the comments that Weinberg backs up with end notes are questionable.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas E. Sarantakes on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had the opportunity to see Gerhard L. Weinberg give a talk on this book and it was a study of a master at work. He was pushing a controversial interpretation and was answering skeptical questions directly with an ease of a man who knew his subject like the back of his hand. I was intrigued, bought a copy, got him to sign it, and read the book eagerly. I was not disappointed.

Weinberg does exactly what he sets out to do--write a global history of the Second World War. His footnotes reflect a total familiarity with the most recent literature in English and German and show that he has done original research for this project. As a historian of modern Germany, he puts the onus for this war on the Nazis and has no truck for people cooperated with the National Socialists in any way. "The INTENT was different from the start. A total reordering of the globe was at stake from the very beginning" (p. 2). They pursued a unique policy of demographic extermination that was different from the policies nation-states had pursued in the past. "This was, in fact, a struggle not only for control resources of the globe and which peoples would vanish entirely because they were believed inferior or undesirable by the victors" (p. 2). This war started in Europe, the center of international affairs at the time, and had ramifications that spread across the planet enflaming local conflicts.

Weinberg sustains his argument in strong, consistent fashion. He focuses mostly at the policy and strategic levels, and shows how events in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific were interrelated. AS a result, the book is bloodless, havning no depiction of the horrors and energies of combat. Despite the heft of the page numbers, Weinberg is a talented writer and writes in engaging fashion.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Buenoslibros.es on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Second time I read this book. They don't get any more comprehensive than this.

It is not a military history as much as a diplomatic, and global analysis of the conflict. It tries to explain in detail how things got to happen, and why, rather than what exactly happened. Geopolitics is the best word that defines this book. It assumes that the reader knows what happened, 'grosso modo', and then aims at the big picture, a great canvass that includes all countries and regions involved.

And it achieves this aim wonderfully. Now, you would like to dig more deeper -for sure- in some campaigns or countries more than in others: then you have to go to other sources.

Around 900 pages, and about 200 pages of notes. The only insufficiency that I find is the lack of illustrations, and photos. There's nothing but text here. Well... and a few poor & sketchy maps at the very back of the book.
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