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The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War

4.1 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061228599
ISBN-10: 0061228591
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Editorial Reviews


“Gripping. . . . splendid history. A brilliantly clear and accessible account of the war in all its theaters. Roberts’s prose is unerringly precise and strikingly vivid. It is hard to imagine a better-told military history of World War II.” (Timothy Snyder, The New York Times Book Review)

“Elegantly balances fact, thought and fresh, clear prose. . . . Roberts has set a high bar for future historians of mankind’s greatest bloodbath; Roberts splendidly weaves a human tragedy into a story of war’s remorseless statistics.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“With his new book on the Second World War, British historian Andrew Roberts has not only written the single best history of that conflict but has also claimed his place as one of our top historians.” (Michael Korda, The Daily Beast)

“A magnificent book;It manages to be distinctive but not eccentric, comprehensive in scope but not cramped by detail, giving due weight both to the extraordinary personalities and to the blind economic and physical forces involved.” (The Economist)

“Roberts’s narrative gifts are such that it is almost impossible to read his retelling of these nightmares without some feeling of encountering the new. No history book can ever truly be definitive, but this comes close. Roberts never loses sight of the human side of this epic.” (National Review)

“Roberts is a great historian because of a rare triune mastery: of the movement of history, in both its broad sweep and particular revelatory detail; a felicitous prose style and gift for narrative; and a commanding moral vision.” (Roger Kimball, The Daily)

“Andrew Roberts achieves a marvel of concision in producing a splendidly written, comprehensive new history of the greatest conflict in history, The Storm of War—particularly good in its insights into Axis strategy.” (Sir Ian Kershaw, The Guardian, Books of the Year)

“In what might be his best book yet, Roberts gives us the war as seen from the other side of the hill. He has the knack of making complex military operations comprehensible and salting the grand strategic sweep with vignettes of how it felt to be a soldier.” (Nigel Jones, The Sunday Telegraph)

“Roberts is a first-rate historian. He has a sharp eye for a good subject and a knack of getting to its heart. The second world war, which cost more than 50 million lives, has a perennial fascination that Roberts conveys through an admirably lucid narrative.” (Piers Brendon, The Sunday Times)

“In one irresistibly readable book, Roberts has done what I thought was impossible--given us the whole bloody second world war from the brass buttons of the generals down to the mud-filled trenches and stretching across the globe.” (Tina Brown, Newsweek)

“The best full history of World War II yet written.” (Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Wall Street Journal)

From the Back Cover

From "Britain's finest military historian" (The Economist) comes a magisterial new history of World War II and the flawed axis strategy that led to their defeat.

The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people. What were the factors that affected the war's outcome? Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Andrew Roberts's acclaimed new history has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic con?ict. From the western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he tells the story of the war—the grand strategy and the individual experience, the cruelty and the heroism—as never before.

In researching this magnificently vivid history, Roberts walked many of the key battlefields and wartime sites in Russia, France, Italy, Germany, and the Far East, and drew on a number of never-before-published documents, such as a letter from Hitler's director of military operations explaining the reasoning behind the Führer's order to halt the Panzers outside Dunkirk—a delay that enabled British forces to evacuate. Roberts illuminates the principal actors on both sides and analyzes how they reached critical decisions. He also presents the tales of many little-known individuals whose experiences form a panoply of the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice, as well as the terrible depravity and cruelty, of the Second World War.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, The Storm of War gives a dramatic account of this momentous event and shows in remarkable detail why the war took the course it did.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 712 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061228591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061228599
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the first one-volume history of World War II that I'd really place in a category of reevaluation by an author who views the war from a comfortable distance in time, but then I'm not expert, not even, really, an amateur aficionado even though I've read a lot about the war, including biographies of the personalities and memoirs by the participants.

Roberts' thesis is that the Allies did not so much win the war as Hitler lost it, in large part by making independent judgments based on intuition and ideology. He was not a military strategist and didn't trust anyone who was. The smarter his generals, the more likely he was to fire them, as he did von Rundstedt and Guderian more than once, or ignore them when he didn't like their advice as he often did von Manstein who was maybe his best strategist.

According to Roberts, Hitler's biggest misjudgment was invading Russia in June of 1941 thereby forcing Germany to fight thereafter on two fronts. He had already made a major error in not pursuing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who made the historic evacuation from Dunkirk--which the German army could had prevented had Hitler not called them off. He had not invaded England, having lost the air war of 1940 (The Battle of Britain). He had not beefed up his Navy--especially the submarines which tied up Atlantic shipping until 1943 but thereafter hadn't the wherewith all (submarines mainly) to continue--or his Air Force whose fighter planes were clearly inferior to Britain's. (He didn't halt airplane design or manufacturing but did force a new fighter to be made into a bomber which left him vulnerable in Russia.) He left all that hanging and went after the USSR, seeking "lebensraum" for the German people and success where Napoleon had failed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is THE best single volume history of World War II that I have ever read. The author sets out to demonstrate how Hitler lost his own war and believe me it is FASCINATING. He uses transcripts from taped conversations between Hitler and his generals, Nuremburg testimony, quotes from soldiers, sailors, admirals and designers of bombs as well as succinct descriptions of battles (and what went wrong). The war in the Pacific is not ignored by any means - but the main subject of the book is Hitler's lost cause.

I found myself doing the same thing I do with a good novel, "Just one more chapter and THEN I'll go to bed..." It was well-written, engaging, hard-hitting and even had some humorous moments, such as little known quotes from General Patton.

You will read about the politics, the strategies, the disasters and the in-fighting. And you will read the stark statistics and the individual stories of human kindness and courage and endurance amidst the horrors of unbelievable cruelty.

This is not a comfortable read. It is not for those with weak stomachs or those who refuse to believe that evil exists in this world. Highly recommended. Suitable for mature teens and up.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is history at its best. Roberts comes to the job of reviewing World War II with a great perspective on the major decision-makers in the early days of the war, Churchill, Roosevelt, Marshall and Alan Brooke, in his earlier book, Masters and Commanders. These great leaders faded in importance as Hitler made his single most fateful decision, to attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. This ultimately cost Russia more than half of all the fatalities in the war, more than 25 million human souls, but it bled the German armies of their vital strength. Apart from minor victories, the German army never again won a major battle. Roberts has a sweeping command of facts, many of which were new to me. In addition, his opinions are well argued and easy to follow. This is a wonderful book, so well thought through and so well written.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although my comments on "The Storm of War" will be mostly critical, I must note that I am familiar with the author's previous books, have heard a number of interviews with Mr. Roberts, and firmly believe he possesses the intellect, diligence, writing skill and flair of a first-rate historian. The field of modern history is much richer for historians of his quality and I am grateful for his contributions. The proof lies in the corpus of his work.

This book is a Euro-centric history of the war by design and I notice that many of the other reviewers overlooked that point. However, while "The Storm of War" is a good and interesting read it is quite marginal on its major promise: to analyze the decision points and alternate courses of the war (p.11). On this goal the relevant sections run the gamut from mostly casual to almost superficial. I will elaborate my point by describing a few of the more tendentious passages in the book, how Mr. Roberts dealt with them, and how he might have made them better.

"If, on coming to power in 1933, Hitler had developed long-range heavy bombers, built more fighters than he did and trained the Wehrmacht for amphibious operations; if he had not dissipated his naval forces by invading Norway; and if had attacked much earlier to give himself months of better weather in the Channel, then the always risky Sealion would have stood far greater chance of success. If he had landed large numbers of well-supplied paratroopers on the major British airfields of southern England during the opening stages of the battle of Britain, though such an operation would undoubtedly have been risky, it might have paid off.
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