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A History of the Second World War Paperback – 19 Aug 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (19 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330511718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330511711
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 590,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"The best book of its kind.[It is] a crisp professional critique of the strategic concepts and tactical methods of all the contending forces. Liddell Hart writes with no national bias, and is as critical of British -- and Allied -- performance as of the enemy's".-- The New Yorker

About the Author

Sir Basil Liddell Hart was a military strategist and writer of great acclaim, and one of the world's outstanding teacher-historians. Born in Paris in 1895, he was educated at Cambridge before serving on the Western Front with the Yorkshire Light Infantry after which he was military correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and The Times. He evolved several military tactical developments including the Battle Drill system and was an early advocate of airpower and armoured forces. He lectured on strategy and tactics at staff colleges in numerous countries. His many books include biographies of several great commanders, and The Other Side of the Hill - his interview with World War II's highest-ranking German generals. His two great studies of World War I and World War II were published in 1930 and 1970 respectively, the latter in the year of his death. He was knighted in 1966.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
On April 1, 1939, the world's Press carried the news that Mr Neville Chamberlain's Cabinet, reversing its policy of appeasement and detachment, had pledged Britain to defend Poland against any threat from Germany, with the aim of ensuring peace in Europe. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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By Arch Stanton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
First off I should say that I don't like this book. Liddell Hart is a pessimistic braggart who never stops pointing out how he would have done everything differently. That said, there is a very real possibility that he was right. Just reading the quotations he includes from his various articles written during the war, you can see that he had a very good understanding of how to fight modern wars. I don't doubt that he is avoiding the articles where he was wrong, but that he is right so many times is spooky. Whatever else can be said about him he was certainly smart. It is also pretty clear why nobody listened to him. Apparently, at one point in the war Winston Churchill even tried to put him under arrest. It also seems that he was intentionally deceptive about the origins of blitzkrieg. He claims to have invented the principle himself which is at best willful misinterpretation of the facts.

Now on to the good points (and there are many). The book is about as thoroughly researched as it is possible to be. Liddell Hart interviewed many of the participants himself which is something that you don't find in many history books. His understanding of tactics and strategy is exceptional and rarely implausible. The writing style is competent, direct, and to the point. He has barely an unnecessary word in the entire book.

Now for more bad points. The book is ENTIRELY a Military History. Any politics or personalities are mentioned in passing if at all. The few interpretations of his that I strongly disagreed with were in his interpretation of politics. He views it from very much a military point of view as a battle to win as much power and security as possible. Any other factors such as principles or popular opinion are ignored or ridiculed.
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Format: Hardcover
Due to the attributed authoritativeness of author Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart a presumably simple question needs to be asked and answered from the outset: Does this history of the Second World War give an exact account of the global war between the Axis Powers and The Allies from 1939 to 1945?
The answer is very emphatically yes, but a distinction must be made. This book took me two months to read, taking into account its length (700 pages) this was not especially poor for a general history reader. But I believe the reason behind the prolongued read is precisely because it is not an account for general readership but for the reader of military history. It is, in short, a military and strategist's view of the Second World War. An important categorization that I hope informs potential buyers.
This does not mean however that its worth is negated for the general reader. Liddell Hart's history is as thorough and epic in scale as the war itself An experienced military strategist who bore witness to its prosecution, he held unique and valuable insight. Of particular value is the inclusion of German accounts of the war from interrogations and interviews made by Liddell Hart himself.
Great eruditeness is also shown in describing the varying campaigns, invasions, battlefields, and military plans from all sides. The sheer detail he offers is immense and because of this nothing is gleaned over, which I felt was of considerable use in gathering a full account of the actual fighting. In addition, something of the art, if not essentially chaotic nature of the war and indeed warfare as a whole is infused into the reader's mind.
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Format: Paperback
Great book. It tells where individual units (divisions and above) ware during each battle/campaign. Very objective style, one some might describe as dry but I find very apealing. If you can combine this book with Hart's Other side of the hill and WW2 will be more clear. The only thing one might hold against it are small number of maps but important battles are described with maps but keeping map of Europe/Pacific near you will make things easier.
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Format: Paperback
I've got 300+ books on the subject and this is one of the few that i've read more than 2 times. Actually i can say that i've certainly read this book more than thirty times, excluding that reading from a one chapter.
I think this is one of the greatest books on the subject. Well written, it gives you the all picture of the second world war. Everybody keen on this matter should buy one.
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The attraction of this is that Liddell Hart was a leading strategic thinker between the wars: he invented the tactics that became known as Blitzkrieg. But he was sidelined, the British military didn't pursue his ideas but the Germans did. So, perhaps inevitably, there's a thread of 'I told you so' running through it. He has a tendency to reductive explanations based on tactics and the technology associated with them. Thus, unsurprisingly, Germany's victory in France is attributed to Blitzkrieg, particularly the fact that 'the Allied leaders had not grasped this new technique'; their failure in Russia, on the other hand, was because they failed to apply it thoroughly enough. Possibly true, but the reader needs to be aware of LH's own vested interest in these conclusions.

And, from a man who never exceeded the rank of captain, there is obvious personal bitterness in the remark: 'Hitler well understood the effect of promotion in seducing men's judgement and producing compliance. Professional ambition rarely resists that form of temptation.' The prophet is never accepted in his own country...

The style is a bit odd, with lots of outlines and recapitulations; though it's a long book, arguably all you really need to read is the ten-page epilogue. The rest just sets out the same ideas at greater length. In many cases these are the fairly obvious ones encountered in many books about the war: Allied material superiority; Hitler's disastrous insistence on standing fast no matter what; the counter-productive demand for unconditional surrender.

Not quite the dazzling insights I was hoping for, then; but a good strategic overview, especially if you have not already read extensively about the conflict.
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