[ Free eBook ] The Second World WarAuthor Antony Beevor – Gsagency.co

A Masterful And Comprehensive Chronicle Of World War II, By Internationally Bestselling Historian Antony Beevor Over The Past Two Decades, Antony Beevor Has Established Himself As One Of The World S Premier Historians Of WWII His Multi Award Winning Books Have Included Stalingrad And The Fall Of BerlinNow, In His Newest And Most Ambitious Book, He Turns His Focus To One Of The Bloodiest And Most Tragic Events Of The Twentieth Century, The Second World War In This Searing Narrative That Takes Us From Hitler S Invasion Of Poland On September St,To V J Day On August Th,And The War S Aftermath, Beevor Describes The Conflict And Its Global Reach One That Included Every Major Power The Result Is A Dramatic And Breathtaking Single Volume History That Provides A Remarkably Intimate Account Of The War That, Than Any Other, Still Commands Attention And An Audience Thrillingly Written And Brilliantly Researched, Beevor S Grand And Provocative Account Is Destined To Become The Definitive Work On This Complex, Tragic, And Endlessly Fascinating Period In World History, And Confirms Once That He Is A Military Historian Of The First Rank In the acknowledgements to his latest history, The Second World War, Antony Beevor says that he wrote this comprehensive tome on one of the biggest events in human history because he wanted to fill in the gaps to his own knowledge of the topic But, he says, above all it is an attempt to understand how the whole complex jigsaw fits together, with the direct and indirect effects of actions and decisions taking place in very different theatres of war In this, Beevor succeeds where no other historian I have read has Weighing in at 833 pages with notes , Beevor deftly describes and analyzes the political and military strategic events, people, and decisions that started, fought, and ended World War II Potentiallyimportantly, he debunks one myth after another surrounding this war.Geographically and politically, the European and Pacific Theaters were fairly cordoned off from each other, outside of the involvement of the United States and the British, but not entirely Beevor pulls the thread to examine how the Soviet victory at Khalkhin Gol in eastern Mongolia in the summer of 1939 ensured that the Soviets stayed out of the eastern war Beevor is not, of course, the only historian to make this important point and how that affected both theaters As he pulls the thread further, the interactions of east and west, Axis and Allies, becomeacute Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have almost no strategic interaction there are a handful of exceptions , but their actions on three or four fronts each create a strategic graph theory problem of biblical proportions for the Allies As a big picture example, the United States did not just face a Pacific versus Europe resource competition The United States faced resource competition between Stillwell s command supporting the Chinese Nationalists, MacArthur s forces, Halsey s forces, the preparation for an invasion of western France, operations in North Africa and then Italy, strategic bombing campaigns on both sides, and Lend Lease to many a slew of locations To compound this, American leaders needed to maintain support for the war at home and keep the Alliance together while trying to shape the post war world through a political minefield of communists, socialists, fascists, colonialists, revolutionaries, and democratists All while trying to actually win the war If you consider the number of facets and decisions required in this complex world, multiply these considerations by the same problems with which all of the other Allies and enemies were forced to contend The result is an exponentially large equation to determine the outcomes of a world in flux moving at the speed of a tank Beevor is at his best in this work when he examines these interdependencies of these fronts, the Allies force structure to address them, and the inter and intra national political considerations For students of strategy, this alone makes The Second World War worth reading.Beevor is equally as good at myth busting the saintliness of the war s heroes, the competence of its tragic warriors, and the general sense that it was, in fact, a good war Almost none of the major players of the war get a passon an exception below Montgomery was egotistic, ambitious and ruthless, possessing a boundless self confidence which occasionally bordered on the fatuous MacArthur receives even harsher treatment that includes accusations of gross corruption Roosevelt, Churchill, Eisenhower, Patton, Brooke, Bradley, Stalin, Zhukov, Clark, Stillwell, Halsey, et al, are all described by their weaknesses and mistakes as much as they are by their strengths and failures The sheer volume of egomania among these great captains significantly exceeded their capabilities, as Beevor explicitly demonstrates That is not to suggest that these were not extraordinary men in extraordinary times on the contrary But none of these men were as idyllically competent as many histories would have us believe The Axis powers are given the same treatment, if notwith rightful criticism focused on their general inhumanity As a young Armor officer undergoing basic maneuver traing, a number of German officers were still considered gods of mechanized warfare Rommel, Peiper, Guderian, von Rundstedt, etc Further analysis, as done in this book, shows that these men were not nearly as good as I was taught And those that were actually tactically or operationally superior, such as Peiper, were so ruthless with their own men and civilians that their tactics should hardly be extolled, never mind exemplified, by modern Western armies It is well past time to end this infatuation with German maneuver exceptionalism as it never really existed As an aside, my experience has been that those who believe in this exceptionalism also believe, incorrectly in my opinion, in Israeli maneuver exceptionalism The sooner we end these fantasies, the better for the education of the coming generations of maneuver leaders Before I return to the myth busting of the good war trope, I would be remiss if did not discuss this book s shortcomings, of which I found two Anyone who has read extensively on World War II, a population I consider myself a part of despite my just now revisiting the topic after many years, has a pet rock about this war some issue or topic, preferably obscure and contrarian, which is used by its holder to judge all writing and analysis of World War II I have one of these and his name was Major General Philippe Leclerc who commanded the French 2d Ard Division Although Leclerc was a competent and brave commander, he had absolutely no regard for the Allied chain of command or unity of effort He had a reputation for ignoring his orders and doing whatever he pleased for the glory of France and or himself There was an obscure incident that occurred in August 1944 towards the very end of Operation OVERLORD during the attempt to trap hundreds of thousands of Germans in the Falaise Pocket The battle to close the gap and encircle the German forces inside the pocket was hard fought and in the end a victory for the Allies But at least one Panzer corps and most likelyescaped There were three reasons Montgomery s inability to drive his forces south fast or hard enough, Bradley s indecision, and Leclerc disobeying orders The really long story short is that Leclerc was so excited to end the battle so that he could turn south and spearhead the liberation of Paris that he exceeded his divisional boundary in the Foret d Ecouves This caused a massive traffic jam with the U.S 5th Ard Division and provided the German Army defenders time and space to establish a defensive line that allowedGerman forces to escape encirclement see page 416 at this link I find Leclerc s actions unconscionable In a book that aims to break down the many cults of personality surrounding the key characters of this conflict, Beevor misses this opportunity and gives Leclerc a pass I will grant the author some forgiveness in that if he picked on the foibles of every division commander in the war even if this particular one was a prominent player then this book would expand to be many volumes But this is my pet rock and I am miffed that Leclerc s egomania likely led to the deaths of many soldiers and Beevor did not take a written hammer to him for it.Some readers will complain that the Pacific Theater receives short shrift in this book Many of the battles are not detailed, but that is true of most battles in both theaters This book was not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the fighting, but rather of the strategic decisions and actions that comprised the whole of the war Tactics are rarely discussed anywhere unless they are needed for the larger analysis, such as in Stalingrad where the type of fighting played a role in the Red Army s ferocity in the outbreak that in turn had a number of strategic implications through the end of the war So yes, Midway gets all of two pages, but that is all that particular battle warrants when not examining the tactical situation of the battle that was irrelevant to strategy in the Pacific Rest assured that the major strategic concerns of the Pacific are addressed in detail as well as relevant tactical analysis.No, the second major issue with this book, besides some redundancies, is sloppiness in editing There are too many sentences that do not make sense because of various errors Thankfully the errors do not create ambiguity and thus confusion, but they are irritating and interrupt the flow of the book They also increase in number near the end It is a rather large book so some errors are expected, but the publisher would do well to give it another scrub before a second printing Related to this is the index, which is a mess For example, there you will find in order Cholitz, Chungking, Chou, Ciano There is the obvious problem that Chou should precede Chungking, butimportantly is that Churchill is not to be found between Chungking and Ciano Winston Churchill is not in the index That is a major mistake if I have ever seen one.These problems are overwhelmed by this book s positive contribution to the study of World War II and military history and strategy in general Beevor attacks the good war campaign and stops it dead in its tracks The incomprehensible costs of this war should cause anyone about to describe it as good to pause Indeed, fascist and imperialist aggressors and mass murderers were defeated and there is no denying that was a good thing However, the Western Allies were hardly angels themselves if potentially lesser devils Atrocities on the ground in the Pacific and western European fronts are detailed and are comparatively benign But the strategic bombing campaign conducted against civilians on both sides of the war with no tangible military objectives should be viewed through a realist lens If the Allies had lost the war, its leaders would have been tried for war crimes And these crimes pale in comparison not only with Nazi and Japanese atrocities, but also with Soviet atrocities and later Chinese crimes Beevor is also quite harsh on the Western leaders for acquiescing to Stalin on Eastern Europe, saying that they sold out half of Europe to save the other half He is not wrong in this It is important to note that Beevor does not suggest that World War II was an unjust war, he in fact says that is from the Allied perspective, naturally , but rather that we should remove our rosy glasses on the West s activities during the war and understand analysis of the war and its events for what they are and why good is not a descriptor of this war He describes the war as so rich a source for the study of dilemmas, individual and mass tragedy, the corruption of power politics, ideological hypocrisy, the egomania of commanders, betrayal, perversity, self sacrifice, unbelievable sadism and unpredictable compassion Indeed this is true Beevor s account of it sets a high bar of scholarship and unprejudiced perspective for such study.I originally posted this at Every nation experienced and remembers the war in different ways For the British, French and Poles, it began with the Nazi attack on Poland in September 1939 For Russians, notwithstanding their assaults on Poland, Finland and the Baltic States, the real war started in June 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union For Americans, it began with the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 For Japan, however, Pearl Harbor was the continuation of an expansionist military adventure that started with the invasion of Chinese Manchuria in 1931 A general history of the war needs to embrace this variety of experience and capture the interplay between the momentous events unfolding on different continents and the high seas.Antony Beevor effectively meets this challenge A former British army officer and author of admired works on Stalingrad and the Allied invasion of Normandy, Beevor is gifted writer who knows how to keep a good story rolling No other period in history offers so rich a source for the study of dilemmas, individual and mass tragedy, the corruption of power politics, ideological hypocrisy, the egomania of commanders, betrayal, perversity, self sacrifice, unbelievable sadism and unpredictable compassion, he observes.The brutality and courage of individual soldiers and civilians emerge in Beevor s powerful accounts of battles such as Kursk, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima Mankind has never known a war as devastating in its violence and profound in its moral implications as the second world war. For some crazy reason I bought both Beevor s book on World War II and Max Hasting s Inferno The World at War, 1939 1945 when they were published in the US a couple years ago While I wouldn t call myself a WW2 buff, my steady interest dates back to the summer of 1976 when I picked up John Lukacs The Last European War, September 1939 December 1941 in a Georgetown bookstore Lukacs provides a rich diplomatic history, and the kind of drama underlying the many novels of Alan Furst Beevor and Hastings provide something different an unsparing overview of carnage, cruelty and incomprehensible suffering.I was somewhat prepared for this book, because I d read Beevor s impressive Stalingrad The Fateful Siege, 1942 1943 and The Fall of Berlin 1945, as well as the first chapters of D Day The Battle for Normandy and I d judge any of those books superior to this larger history, simply because there s no way one historian can master so much material or cover so many events in meaningful depth The book also suffers from a dearth of maps However, even in a survey such as this, depths of horror and historical irony come through And I learned some important facts that I hadn t know before, such as Stalin s plans to invade Europe after the fall of Berlin Beevor quotes General Shtemenko a landing in Norway was provided for, as well as the seizure of the Straits with Denmark It was expected that the Americans would abandon a Europe fallen into chaos, while Britain and France would be paralyzed by their colonial problems The Soviet Union possessed 400 experience divisions, ready to bound forward like tigers It was calculated that the whole operation would take nothan a month All these plans were aborted when Stalin learned from Beria that the Americans had the atom bomb and were putting it into mass production One awful example of irony is the political naivet of the US China experts who supported Mao against Chiang Kai shek Agnes Smedley, Theodore White and other influential American writers could not accept for a moment that Mao might turn out to be a far worse tyrant than Chiang Kai shek The personality cult, the Great Leap Forward which killedpeople than the whole of Second World War, the cruel madness of the Cultural Revolution and the seventy million victims of a regime that was in many ways worse than Stalinism proved totally beyond their imagination.As for horror, Beever devotes only a couple paragraphs to the Japanese policy of eating their prisoners.The Japanese practice of treating prisoners as human cattle had not come about from a collapse of discipline It was usually directed by the officers Apart from local people, victims of cannibalism included Papuan soldiers, Australians, Americans and Indian prisoners of war who had refused to join the Indian National Army At the end of the war, their Japanese captors had kept the Indians alive so that they could butcher them to eat one at a time Even the inhumanity of the Nazi s Hunger Plan in the east never descended to such levels Because the subject was so upsetting to families of soldiers who had died in the Pacific War, the Allies suppressed all information on the subject, and cannibalism never featured as a crime at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in 1946.All the usual horrors are documented as well the Holocaust the unrelenting ebb and flow of death in the bloodlands the barbarous battles between the warrior states of Germany and Japan against the often unprepared conscripts from the democracies the criminal strategic firebombing of cities Yet Beevor is surely correct in his conclusion that No other period in history offers so rich a source for the study of dilemmas, individual and mass tragedy, the corruption of power politics, ideological hypocrisy, the egomania of commanders, betrayal, perversity, self sacrifice, unbelievable sadism and unpredictable compassion. Tremendous Haven t been able to leave this alone over the last fortnight Finished it last night.Left me asking the question how did civilisation survive such a conflict I approached Antony Beevor s World War II with considerable trepidation Beevor is brilliant at dealing with individual battles or campaigns but had never before attempted synthesis history His survey of World War II is a resounding success as Beevor demonstrates his strength in this area.Contrary to tradition which selects the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 as the starting point of WWI, Beevor uses Stalin s decision the previous June to mount a large scale response to Japan s incursions on the Mongolian frontier Stalin s aim was to pacify the Eastern frontier in face of an increasingly strong possibility of a German move in the West Beevor s choice is logically defensible More importantly, it reflects a generational shift For the last 60 years, our writing on WWII has concentrated on the European theatre because that is where our older relatives and their comrades fought Going forward as China s economic, political and cultural importance grows we will payattention to the Asian theatre as these countries take onimportance in our business and personal lives Beevor maintains a strong focus on China and Japan throughout the book which is clearly one of its strong points.Beevor s great strength as an historian has been his ability to treat human suffering as central to war not as a collateral issue In his previous books, he has always demonstrated a masterful ability to maintain simultaneous narratives on military actions, political decisions and the ongoing loss of life Although relying on secondary sources, Beevor is again able to achieve this triple thread for the broader war He criticizes bombing because in his view it caused many civilian deaths without significantly assisting the allied armies advance He describes how armies resort to eating POWs when cut off from food He recounts how occupying armies deliberately kill large numbers of non combatants Beevor has certainly written the right overview work of World War II for our new century However, synthesis history is still not what makes Beevor such a great historian and great is the only word to describe Beevor when he is doing what he is best at.I personally believe that Antony Beevor deserves to become the third historian to receive the Nobel Literature Prize He has the extraordinary ability to take on a subject that has been treated often and occasionally too often by other historians and find something new to say His approach is not to offer new interpretations but rather to find new material that expands the scope of the study.Beevor s two best books are Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin For these two books, he extensively interviewed survivors from the cities in question In this way, he was able to integrate the tale of the battle with the horrific experiences of the populations in the two cities where the armies fought To cover the entire Second War, Beevor had to lay aside his greatest talent that of interviewing civilians in order to describe the human experience of war.If you want an overview, then read Beevor s World War II If you want to read truly great history read Stalingrad, The Fall or Berlin or the Battle of Crete first. This is a subject where a single battle, a single country or a single person can take upthan one tomes of material So, I imagine it s extremely hard to fit the whole war in a single book.Yet Beevor has done it with surprising clarity, completeness and depth I ve read hundreds of books on WWII, and yet I found that there were actually new things to learn from this single tome volume Beevor writes very nicely, with a fluid narrative that keeps the interest up with no let up He manages to captivate the reader in a relentless push through the war.Not that the book is without a few shortcomings Beevor could should have explained a bitabout how the world came to take up arms but he does an excellent job on taking the focus away from what the Westerners consider the beginnings of WWII , and the ending is a hurried affair More importantly, Beevor shows remarkable one sidedness and naivet when dealing with some sensitive political issues like the Greek civil war, the dropping of the atom bomb or the plans of Stalin for the invasion of Western Europe Oh well, no one s perfect, but it costs the book one star.Highly recommended Antony Beevorin Toinen maailmansota WSOY, 2012 on liki tuhatsivuinen yleisesitys sodasta, josta on ehditty vuosien varrella kirjoittaa niin paljon, mutta johon voi ottaa edelleen uuden tulokulman ja josta arkistojen avautuessa l ytyy alati uutta tutkittavaa.Olen lukenut sotahistoriaa jonkin verran, mutta ihmeellisen asiantuntijana en silti voi itse ni pit Beevorin teokset onkin suunnattu aika lailla minun kohderyhm lleni yleistajuista ja kiinnostavaa historiaa, jota lukee sujuvasti kuin hyv kaunokirjallista teosta Luvut saattavat p tty suoranaisiin cliffhangereihinDe Gaulle ja h nen kumppaninsa saapuivat Moskovasta Ranskaan viimein 17 joulukuuta, mutta kohtasivat saman tien saman tien odottamattoman kriisin Saksalaiset joukot olivat tehneet l pimurron Ardenneilla, ja niiden arveltiin olevan matkalla Pariisiins 756.N k kulma vaihtelee kiinnostavasti ylh lt aivan ruohonjuuritasolle asti Valtionp miesten neuvottelup ydist ja esikuntien karttojen rest siirryt n juoksuhautoihin ja pommien raunioittamiin kaupunkeihin Sotilaiden ohella my s siviilit p sev t kertomaan kokemuksistaan.Euroopan ja Tyynenmeren sotan ytt m t vaikuttavat usein korostuvan toista maailmansotaa k sittelev ss historiankirjoituksessa Beevor on ilmeisesti juuri t m n vuoksi pyrkinyt tuomaan aiheeseen uutta n k kulmaa antamalla Kiinan tapahtumille runsaasti painoarvoa, ja onnistuu t ll tavalla t ytt m n kokonaisen rintaman kokoisen aukon omassa yleissivistyksess ni.Lis ksi kirjan luettuani tulin oppineeksi rutkasti pienempi anekdootteja, olipa kyse sitten brasilialaisten joukkojen mukanaolosta Italiassa, Sostakovitsin saamasta k skyst tehd s vellys Suomen valtaamisen juhlistamiseksi tai japanilaisten laivastoupseerien mieltymyksest bridgeen Sodassa k ytetyist biologisista aseista en ollut my sk n tietoinen, puhumattakaan japanilaisten harjoittamasta ihmissy nnist , joka oli tiett v sti niin mittavaa, etteiv t kyseess voineet olla ainoastaan yksitt istapaukset.Beevor on humanisti Sodan kauhut v littyv t tekstist voimakkaasti kuolema, keskitysleirit, terroripommitukset, v est n pakkosiirrot, ruumiskasat, kidutus, kannibalismi, raiskaukset, siviiliuhrit, teloitukset Lista on loputon Syytt v sormi ei osoita ainoastaan ns tavanomaisia ep iltyj , vaan saksalaisten, japanilaisten ja neuvostoliittolaisten lis ksi my s l nsiliittoutuneitten suorittamista hirmut ist kerrotaan.Lukija joutuu v kisinkin pohtimaan, miten p yristytt viin tekoihin ihminen onkaan kykenev , ja kuinka henkiinj neet ovat voineet jatkaa el m ns rauniokasojen keskell Lienee siin mielenterveys ollut koetuksella yhdell jos toisellakin Ei oma ukkinikaan koskaan tainnut kokonaan p st yli rintamalla kokemistaan asioista, vaikkei h n ihan pahimpiin paikkoihin joutunut.Sodan varjo on langennut my s seuraavien sukupolvienkin ylle, eik maailma ole viel k n t ysin toipunut 1930 ja 1940 lukujen tapahtumista Toipuneeko koskaan Ent voimmeko oppia historiasta mit n Sotia k yd n jatkuvasti eri puolilla maailmaa, ja erilaisia hirmutekoja tapahtuu edelleen eri puolilla maailmaa Se, jos mik , pist miettim n. I will open by writing that I know very little about the Second World War Well, I KNEW very little about the Second World War After reading this book I now know a lotI m not sure I m happier for the knowing I did not sit down and read this book through in one sitting To be honest I ve had it for several months and I read it chapter by chapter in between all of the other books I have read this summer It was too much war for me to take all at once That does not mean that it was a bad book not at all In fact it read beautifully I just could not take all of that war all at once I had to pace myself So pace myself I did and I am a bit later with this review than I promised and I do apologize for that But this is the first time I ve really gotten into the nitty gritty of WWII and well, it was a lot The book discusses all of the battles on all of the fronts of the war That is a LOT of battles Mr Beevor goes into detail about commanders, equipment and all that goes into what makes war and battles happen I was woefully ignorant as to the Pacific end of WWII and now have a better idea of what the Japan China side of the war was about.The one thing that bothered me immensely though, was Mr Beevor s treatment and descriptions of Hitler He seemed to be treating him as a puppet rather than as the leader of the Reich He never has Hitler fully taking charge of, or giving him responsibility for the Holocaust and to write a book about this war and to take Hitler off the hook for that horror is just egregious I don t understand.I can t begin to write as to whether this is a definitive work on WWII as I have minimal knowledge of the facts as I stated earlier I can state that it was easy to read, albeit a bit slow at times I liked that I was able to learn so much as I was reading the book chapter by chapter as to increase my knowledge of this pivotal time in modern history. It took me about 9 months to read this book by Antony Beevor During this time period, I was consumed by the events that took place during 1939 1945 while the world and civilization plunged into uncertainty and fear Everything that I had learned about the War previously seemed naive in comparison to what actually happened I will not wax poetic on exactly why that is, but I will say that I am very thankful I read this I am left with an immense sense of appreciation at the heroism of the individual and the will to overcome seemingly magnanimous violence and inhumanity The Second World War claimed so many lives that we will never be able to grasp the depth of loss on a human scale The most important thing I walk away from this book with is to understand the obligation to commemorate the souls lost to this terrible conflict The Second World War is a lynchpin moment in our collective history that should never fade into indifference, lest we forget.Vasily Grossman, a war correspondent with the Red Army, said There was something terrible, but also something sad and melancholy in this long cry uttered by the Russian infantry as they staged an attack As it crossed the cold water, it lost its fervor Instead of valor or gallantry, you could hear the sadness of a soul parting with everything that it loved, calling on its nearest and dearest to wake up, to lift their head from their pillows and hear for the last time the voice of a father, a husband, a son or a brother Words of loss in situations repeated countless times over across Europe and the South Pacific A conflict that affected generations to come, with lessons gained and lost.