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World War II Hardcover – September 6, 2004

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The book jacket describes the war as history’s most dramatic event, but there’s very little drama in this lavishly illustrated, informative but rarely incisive survey. Military historians Willmott and Messenger and journalist Cross provide a comprehensive account of the war’s major campaigns and diplomatic initiatives, highlighted with brief sidebars on innumerable special topics (from the Holocaust to war movies) and a wealth of helpful timelines and color maps. Unfortunately, their broad but shallow treatment lacks the interpretive framework that would shape the fortunes of war into a comprehensible story. Their observations on the Allied and Axis war economies and the resulting disparity in numbers and supplies are well-chosen but scattered throughout the book in small asides, so that this decisive aspect of the war remains in the background. Other controversies, like Eisenhower’s "Broad Front" strategy in northwest Europe, the divided American command strategy in the Pacific and the effectiveness and morality of the Allied bombing campaigns against German and Japanese cities, are touched on but hardly explored. The primary text is largely a dry narrative of military operations, with the provisioning of pathos and atmospherics left to the hundreds of photos of ravaged towns and exhausted soldiers; weapons buffs, at least, will derive some pleasure from the many color portraits, complete with performance specs, of the contending armies’ airplanes, tanks and rifles. While useful as a barebones chronicle of the war and a compendium of associated lore and visuals, the book lacks the sort of focus and insight that would transform the conflict’s pageant of devastation and woe into meaningful history.
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About the Author

Robin Cross has written on many aspects of WW II. He's the author of Bombers, The Citadel: The Battle of Kursk, & Unsung Heroines.

Charles Messenger served in the Royal Tank Regiment and has written several books on the war, including The Second World War in the West.

H.P. Willmott is a widely published military historian and the author of DK's World War I.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: DK; First Edition edition (September 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756605210
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756605216
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on January 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a well-illustrated overview of World War II if your main interest is in the European and African campaigns. Unfortunately, like so many other books about the war, the Pacific campaign is treated as an afterthought. In this book the Pacific rates about 20% of the text. For the Europe-Africa campaigns this book is a four. For the Pacific campaign it is about one-and-a-half.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. ~Marianne Williamson

It seems impossible to eradicate the idea of war from our daily existence. War (somewhere on the planet) seems to be a part of daily life, as real as the internal wars of the soul. How can the world ever know peace when we cannot even find ways to be at peace in our homes or in our own communities? It seems we are always fighting an internal war and that war is represented in the experience of physical war.

H.P. Willmott, Robin Cross and Charles Messenger explain the reasons behind the most dramatic event in human history. They show how the shock waves of World Wwar II still resonate in our world today. As they analyze the causes of the war and the consequences, we may be able to learn from the past to prevent future destruction.

When I read a book like World War II, it does awaken me to the reality of what mankind is capable of in regards to fighting for freedom and trying to suppress freedom. There are shocking accounts of man's cruelty and contrasting accounts of those who would seek to free mankind from tyranny.

This book is divided into nine chapters:

The Path to War
War Begins in Europe
Germany Triumphant
The War Becomes Global
The Initiative Changes Hands
The Axis on the Defensive
The Allies' Great Offensives
The Final Battles
A New World

World War II is not a calm read and you may find yourself becoming angry or sickened while reading about the atrocities of mankind. Perhaps it is necessary to feel that sense of revulsion in order to make better decisions in the future.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ken Luke on October 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There is less coverage on the Pacific War, which was a major factor in WW2. The atomic bombs were dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima which ended WW2, not elsewhere, am I right??!
It seems as if the authors think that the Pacific War is not important or does not belong to WW2...heh!!
I have been to Nagasaki and Hiroshima and would like to know more about the Pacific War/theatre.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was a kid used to produce these beutifully illustrated books about World War II. I haven't seen one of them in years. Now this book has come out. I at first thought that it was a reprint of one of the old books, but it isn't. I've seen hundreds, if not thousands of WW II photographs from all fronts. But in reading this book, I didn't recognize any of the pictures as having been used before.

The book isn't heavy on strategy. For instance there is a discussion on the lack of food in Japan by the fall of 1944 due to heavy merchant shipping losses. This was not discussed in terms of the lack of emphasis on anti-submarine forces and failure to adapt the convoy system as was done in the Atlantic. This in turn was related to the Japanese concepts of supporting the fighting forces but ignoring the mere commercial side. This is a minor point, there are other books that go into strategy. The pictures that are on that page more than make up for this lack.

All in all, an excellent book of a type not seen so often any more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Seagrove on July 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a great source of information on World War II. It provides detailed information on the people, battles, and weapons of World War II as well as photos and maps. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Many pictorial histories of WWII are little more than picture books, held together with some text, but this book is much more that this. In my opinion, it is an excellent summary history of WWII, in addition to being an excellent pictorial history. It is divided into 9 sections that starts with "the path to war", and ends with "a new world". In between it covers all the theaters of the war and all the aspects of the war; the fighting, the home fronts, the tactics and most of the battles, including many reasonably obscure ones, such operations in the Dodecanese (islands in the Aegean occupied by the British and then captured by the Germans). It not only discusses all the weapons used (supplemented with many pictures), but also gives space to topics such as wartime cinema, including Chaplin's "The Great Dictator", as well documentaries and dramas. It provides details on such diverse topics as the losses of Japanese shipping and the making of penicillin. There are timelines and summaries of events such as the German-Soviet conflict, allied bombing of Germany, the sea war against Germany and the sea war against Japan, the Asia and Pacific Campaigns, the Sicilian and Italian Campaign, partisan resistance in the Balkans,... The book contains numerous color battle maps, tabular data, capsule biographies of important generals and political leaders, and much more. The book is in color, printed on high gloss paper. I rate this as one of the best pictorial histories that I have seen and I also rate it as a good summary of all aspects of WWII. This is a five star book in all aspects.
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