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Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by [Hastings, Max]
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Product Details

  • File Size: 26649 KB
  • Print Length: 821 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004SOQ198
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,600 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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By Paul Gelman on November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What is the reason that the Second World War is still a magnet for readers, laymen or professional historians? According to Mr. Hastings, this is so because it was the most
disastrous event in the human history. Did you know, for example, that 27000 people perished daily between September 1939 and August 1945?
This book is mainly about the human experience, in what is called the bottom-up approach to history. Although the military theaters are not neglected at all, they appear here and are described through the lens of the common people or the soldiers who took part in the various scenes of this conflict. The main question posed by Mr. Hastings is: what was the Second World War all about? The answer is grim and, in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, it "concerned mainly stupidity, lies, arrogance and pomposity". Take into consideration the fact that 168000 Russian
Civilians were executed during the war because of cowardice or desertion. Many more thousands suffered the same fate without due process.
Hunger was rampant in many parts of the world, especially throughout the British Empire, where one million were to die in Bengal, and many other famines would break out in Kenya or Egypt. Cannibalism cases which happened in Russia are as well described and it is the author's conclusion that the German army lost because its aims were unrealistic and its forces overstretched. One Russian soldier, Stepan Kuznetsov, wrote that in during the Leningrad siege," all out soldiers on the front look like ghouls-emaciated by hunger and cold. They are in rags, filthy and very, very hungry".
The Wermacht's combat performance remained superior to that of the Red Army until the end of the war, in almost every local action the Germans inflicted more casualties than they received.
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Format: Paperback
Do we really need another general history of World War II? In recent years we have seen new studies by Evan Mawdsley, Martin Gilbert and in particular Andrew Roberts excellent populist history "The Storm of War" to name but a few. The years 1939 to 1945 are a very crowded field for historians and yet there is always a warm welcome for an historian of the calibre of Sir Max Hastings, recent chronicler of Churchill as a wartime leader and political commentator. Hastings is a conservative historian but what is interesting about "All hell let loose - the World at War 1939-45" is that employs the approach of producing an history from below drawn from eyewitness accounts of events. Accounts which in turn demonstrate and confirm William Tecumseh Sherman's maxim "that war is all hell" since we see an overwhelming view of very brave participants who are nonetheless generally terrified, demoralized and often beaten into a fossilised torpor. One British solider reflected in a letter to his wife that `I am absolutely fed up with everything. The dirt and filth, the flies - I'm having a hideous time and I wonder why I'm alive'. Another British soldier William Chappell "never ceased to ache for the civilian world from which he had been torn. He missed his home and his friends and bemoaned the loss of his career. His feet hurt, he was `sick of khaki, and all the monotonous, slow, fiddle-de-dee of Army life.' The fatalistic will of Russian soldiers is particularly well described not least the experience of Private Ivanov, of the 70th Army, who wrote despairingly to his family. `I shall never see you again because death, terrible, ruthless and merciless, is going to cut short my young life. Where shall I find strength and courage to live through all this?Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Max Hastings has spent the past 35 years studying in depth the horrors of World War II (1939-1945). Among his bestselling volumes are Armageddon and Retribution. In Inferno the author gets personal. All of the major military campaigns are covered but the real strength of the book lies in the comments included in the text by participants in the war. We hear from Russian housewives, Werhmacht troops; American Marines; Japanese, Indian and Chinese persons. We feel as if we were there amid the horrors of the worst event in the history of humanity. Just consider the following horrible statistics:
a. Every day from 1939-45 over 27,000 men, women and children died as a result of the war.
b. Over 60 million persons lost their lives during the war due to battle, starvation, executions and disease.
c.90% of the over 7 million German soldiers who died in the war did so in the fight against Stalin's Soviet Union empire.
d. Japan and Germany were cruel dictatorships which treated their own people as cruelly as they did their enemies.
The chief mistakes made by Hitler leading to his downfall were:
a. The foolish attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.
b. The failed plan to defeat England in a cross channel invasion which never transpired.
c.The declaration of war against the United States. America had unlimited wealth and might to produce the weapons of war which led to victory over the Axis powers
d. The holocaust killed over 6 million Jews and in addition 3 million Russians were murdered by the Nazi war machine. The slaves of the Nazis could have been better utiilized as workers for the Reich rather than being killed in senseless slaughter.
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