- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 26, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143114093
- ISBN-13: 978-0143114093
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 66 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945 Reprint Edition
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A clear-eyed reappraisal of World War II that offers new insight by reevaluating well-established facts and pointing out lesser-known ones, No Simple Victory asks readers to reconsider what they know about the war, and how that knowledge might be biased or incorrect. Norman Davies poses simple questions that have unexpected answers: Can you name the five biggest battles of the war? What were the main political ideologies that were contending for supremacy? The answers to these questions will surprise even those who feel that they are experts on the subject.
Davies has established himself as a preeminent scholar of World War II . No Simple Victory is an invaluable contribution to twentieth-century history and an illuminating portrait of a conflict that continues to provoke debate.
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theater of operations in WWII. His analysis of WWII from an eastern focus has presented
a new way of thinking about and understanding the most destructive war in human history. He also places the
popular works of Stephen Ambrose in a more proper and more accurate perspective. However, this book
would have greatly benefited from a more thorough analysis of Operation Barbarossa, which is strangely
lacking in the necessary detail and attention that is truly deserves.
He also goes into excellent detail about all the other things going on over there in the other countries in Europe and its environs. It really wasn't just the US, the UK, the French, and the Soviets against just the Germans and the Italians. And nor was the fighting over there just between the various Allied powers against the various Axis powers. It's no surprise then when people could think the whole world was coming unglued when they realized all the different and various fighting going on over in Europe.
Davies also goes into excellent detail on the civilian costs. The "ethnic cleansing" that regularly took place and did so long before the term was invented in Serbia.
This is a great book to detail the stuff that they just don't bother with in school. It also well sets straight the overwhelmingly massive scale of the fighting on the Eastern Front when compared to anything else that took place on any other front in the world during WWII.
As the title of this book gives a hint of, the author has given the reader a very different view of the main principals responsible for fighting and ending the Second World War in Europe. His opinions, moralizing, and conclusions will certainly offend those readers who believe it was predominantly the United States, either through direct military action or financial contributions (lend lease to the Soviet Union), who played the predominant role in ending the war in Europe. Refreshingly, the author gives evidence for much of what he claims in this regard, and asks the reader to put aside their allegiances when considering this evidence. For this reviewer, the book is a welcome addition to the historical literature, and many surprising historical facts were encountered by its study. This is not to say that readers should take this book as final, as representing some sort of strange apodictic historical certainty, but it is well worth the time and effort for its perusal, even though at times the author clearly needs to engage in some simple statistical sampling methodologies.
Some of the strong perturbations to accepted thought include the discussions on the use of German concentration camps by Soviet authorities to intern people of their choosing; the doctrine of "collective punishment" that was evidently authorized by the Big Three at the Potsdam Conference; the atrocity of the Katyn massacres as being a Soviet culpability, not Nazi; the fact that lend-lease from the United States to the Soviet Union was not really that intense until 1943 and after, and before 1943 the Red Army had already finished the major battles on the Eastern front; that Belarus and the western Ukraine experienced the brunt of the fighting; the standing forces of the United States in 1939 was 175,000 (smaller than Poland at the time); the firebombing of Dresden by Britain and the United States, in which 60,000 people died with intent of breaking the morale of the German people; the paucity of fuel for Germany's armoured divisions as playing a major role in ending the war; the strength of industrial war production in the United States (one tank every five minutes in 1943); that the Polish response to the invasion of their country has been completely distorted and in fact the author asserts performed better militarily than British or French forces did a year later.
These and other discussions will certainly raise the ire of many a reader, but the author asks such readers to consider the consequences of belief in events or interpretations that are not true. The people who participated in this conflict are honored not by creating false impressions or monuments of stone, but rather by reporting as accurately as possible the contexts and struggles in which they found themselves. There cannot be a better testimony to their efforts and courage.
1. D-Day was not even in the top ten battles of World War II. Most huge battles were fought in Russia including such bloodbaths as the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad and the tank battle of Kursk. Davies asserts that Kursk was the most important battle of the entire war. After this decisive battle the Nazis fortunes in the East would go nowhere but downhill!
2. In addition to the approximately six million Jews slaughtered in the death camps were millions more of Poles, Eastern Europeans and others who died in the Nazi camps.
3. More people died in the hellish camps of the Soviet Union's GULAG than died in the Gereman camps. Because Stalin was an ally we sometimes don't realize what a monster he and the Soviet system really was.
4. All the major nations had to pursue other goals than the ones envisaged at the beginning of the world conflict. Germany wanted to knock out the Soviet Union in order to scare Great Britain into capitulation; Stalin wanted the Western powers to destroy themselves and the Western powers wanted to halt aggression into western Europe.
5. The Soviet Union lost 80& of the dead from this war which claimed the lives of well over 50 million persons. Davies contends that the war was won by the Soviet Armies on the Eastern Front.
6. Davies looks at the wartime fates of such groups as: aristocrats; clergy; children; collaborators; communists; fascists; entertainers diplomats; exiles; exiles; eye witnesses; families; heroines; historians;
interpreters; journalists; lovers; musicians; occupiers; peasants; poets; politicians; prisoners; righteous gentiles;saints; scientists; spies; traitors and other groups in the various nations involved in the struggle.
7. Davis talks about how ordinary civilians had to cope with the terrors of occupation and the deadly trips made to the concentration and death camps. We learn how Stalin moved entire populations to distant realms of the Soviet Union and how the Nazis racial policy led them to mass murder.
The Soviets were also murderers on an unbelievable scale of brutality and callous disregard for human life.
8. Davies calls our attention to the nationalism and the distortions about the war reflected in the various nations in the 21st century. We in the US have a very Western-American-centric view of the war while every other nation reflects its own nation's accomplishments in the war.
Movies and novels reflect this nationalistic lens through which we see the now distant World War II.
9. Contrary to many Western inspired myths, the Soviet Union had an excellent army with good weaponry. They were led by outstanding generals such as Zhukov.
10. Europe was only half freed from the yoke of tyranny at the conclusion of the war. The Soviet Union grabbed Eastern Europe under the cruel yoke of Stalinism precipitating the cold war which only ended in 1989.
11. World War II was in many ways a continuation of World War I. Hitler while a horrible monster is not alone responsible for the war.
12. Western historians have often been remiss in listing the amazing victories won by Stalin during World War II.
12. Russia was only one of the republics of the Soviet Union. Most of the fighting in the Soviet Union occurred in the Ukraine.
Norman Davies is a controversial historian. This book, agree or disagree with his findings, will ask you to reevaluate how you view the worst war in human history. I consider it to be an indispensable book on the war.