42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
For Baby Boomers Who Wondered Why,
This review is from: 1945: The War That Never Ended (Hardcover)
Perhaps for those who have yet to turn gray, this treatment of WWII is merely excellent and compelling history. But for those, like me, who grew up through the late 1940s and 1950s, Dallas' well researched recounting of the events surrounding that war goes a long way in explaining the war's bizarre aftermath.
Let me begin by confessing that during the early 1980s, while I was stationed for three years in Germany with the USAF, I had no idea that a peace treaty ending WWII had yet to be agreed upon. My understanding of WWII rested on having read Churchill's eight volume history, which peevishly ends when he is turned out of office. Granted, Gregor Dallas has the advantage of a half-century of retrospection, but he is also not encumbered by the live political sensitivities with which Churchill tempered his writing.
This book sheds light on the following issue that had always puzzled me:
Why the British Empire faded
Why the French government tends to be so contrary with the US
Why Europeans in general are so cautious in dealing with the US
Why the Nuremberg Trials happened
Why the Western Allies tolerated so much bad behavior from the USSR
Why Warsaw was obliterated
Why the USSR so rapidly shifted from ally to opponent
Why the USSR and the US confronted each other in the Middle East
Why the Korean Conflict happened
Why the US ended up fighting on behalf of colonial France in Indo-china
The list is much longer. Does Dallas offer the final word on these issues? Of course not. But he raises many points of fact that tend to be minimized by American histories of the conflict. While it is difficult for an American to feel compassion for defeated Germany in the immediate aftermath of the war, we can certainly sense the tragedy of it in reading Dallas' account of the systematic rape of the inhabitants of Berlin by the conquering Soviet army. And not to let the US off the hook too easily, Dallas details the US policy of forcibly repatriating anti-communist Russians in Western Europe to the welcoming arms of Stalin.
Certain sections of this book are burdened with a ballast of names that were unfamiliar to me. This was more than compensated by the wealth of candid history. While I can not attest to the validity of all of Dallas' assertions, most of them, including some of the more outrageous, have a ring of truth about them. It portrays the war as a messy business laboring under the pressures of politics, both local and global.
Finally, I should point out that the book's title is misleading. Although the author uses the year 1945 as a pivot, he reaches back to WWI and forward well into the end of the twentieth century.