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Armageddon. the Second World War [Hardcover]

CLIVE PONTING
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: LONDON. SINCLAIR-STEVENSON. (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856194787
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856194785
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 876,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

This text provides a reassessment of World War II. The author avoids a conventionally chronological approach, as he analyses how and why the war spread from being a European conflict to becoming a global war, why countries were dragged into the fighting and how only a few neutrals escaped.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Second World War 17 Nov 2009
By S Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having spent my childhood immersed in 1:72 scale model aeroplanes, toy soldiers, Commando books and a immense variety of WW2 themed television from Dads Army to the excellent World at War, I approached adulthood suffering from WW2 fatigue. When I started reading history in a more serious away I tended to shy away from the vast mountains of material in existence and daily growing with regard to that conflict. It's not that I think that the War is unimportant or uninteresting it's just that I feel, unlike the schedulers of the average History channel on cable or satellite, there is more to the history of the World than WW2 despite its central role in the history of the last century.

Never the less I still read the odd gifted, lent or recommended book on the War and Clive Pontings "Armageddon: The Second World War" is one such book that I picked up in the Library not because its subject was WW2 but because its author was Clive Ponting, a historian whose other works such as The Crimean War, Breach of Promise: Labour in Power, 1964-70 and A New Green History of the World I have always found stimulating and interesting. His book on WW2 is not quite up with the best of his works, but is none the less a worthwhile read.

Avoiding the standard chronological approach, Ponting elects to divide the War into eleven concisely labelled topics (Origins, Neutrals, Allies, Mobilisation, Strategy, Technology, Combat, Civilians, Occupation, Liberation and Aftermath).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual History at its best 3 July 2011
By George
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Here given are the basic, raw facts behind what occurred during this awful global conflagration - much of it being relatively little known ( at least to me ! ) prior to reading the book. The thinking BEHIND the thinking is often explained, in terms of the REAL strategic and political interests that lay at the heart of decision-making, not only by the major proponents of the Second World War ( Germany, Britain, the Soviet Union, Japan and the USA ), but also by those of lesser - but not necessarily less interesting - note ( and including those of individual politicians and decision-makers, some of whom are not always often mentioned elsewhere ). There are also reams and reams of interesting statistics given, in order to better explain the real horror and damage that this dreadful war caused - it's a successful attempt to take the episode away from some of the clichés that we have all come to know over the years. For the "serious" hobby historian of World War II, the book is, in my opinion, essential reading, and I must applaud Mr. Ponting - not only for his backbone and moral rectitude w.r.t. the "Belgrano Affair" - but also for his obviously brilliant research, his constantly unprejudicial analysis, and, not least, for his most eloquent prose ( which is always most enjoyable to read ) - a marvellous book, and one to be highly recommended !
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Amazon.com: 2.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Second World War 6 July 2012
By S Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Having spent my childhood immersed in 1:72 scale model aeroplanes, toy soldiers, Commando books and a immense variety of WW2 themed television from Dads Army to the excellent World at War, I approached adulthood suffering from WW2 fatigue. When I started reading history in a more serious away I tended to shy away from the vast mountains of material in existence and daily growing with regard to that conflict. It's not that I think that the War is unimportant or uninteresting it's just that I feel, unlike the schedulers of the average History channel on cable or satellite, there is more to the history of the World than WW2 despite its central role in the history of the last century.

Never the less I still read the odd gifted, lent or recommended book on the War and Clive Pontings "Armageddon: The Second World War" is one such book that I picked up in the Library not because its subject was WW2 but because its author was Clive Ponting, a historian whose other works such as The Crimean War, Breach of Promise: Labour in Power, 1964-70 and A New Green History of the World I have always found stimulating and interesting. His book on WW2 is not quite up with the best of his works, but is none the less a worthwhile read.

Avoiding the standard chronological approach, Ponting elects to divide the War into eleven concisely labelled topics (Origins, Neutrals, Allies, Mobilisation, Strategy, Technology, Combat, Civilians, Occupation, Liberation and Aftermath). A different organisation of the material may sound trivial, but it allows the author to present the War from a fresh angle. The result is a more comparative view of the experiences of the War, for example in the chapter on Civilians it considers the full spectrum of civilian experience of War from the prosperity of the U.S. to the Blitzed British, occupied Western Europe, German civilians during the strategic bombing of the wars second half, the brutal experiences of Poland squeezed between the Germans and the Russians, to eastern Europe and Russia under the Nazi invasion to that ultimate in horrors - the Holocaust of European Jews.

He is impartial throughout, stating the facts and by and large letting them speak for themselves. Published in 1995 no doubt some of the recent research and new interpretations, for example in The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy, supersede the research that Pontings synthesis was founded upon. But that asides, it is a book that should appeal to those who already have a reasonable amount of general knowledge of that War and are interested in a book that looks at the War in a fresh way. It can also be picked up 2nd hand reasonably cheap.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Book review - "Armageddon - The Reality Behind the Distortio 2 Jun 2004
By Bill Muckerheide - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am an American, and have never been in the military, though I have read a considerable amount of military history. This review is as unbiased as I can make it, though I must admit to some bias in favor of the military forces in the UK, the USA and elsewhere, generally a poorly-paid, thankless and risky job. At the same time, I realize there were some major mistakes in World War II, as in all human endeavors. My original review was over twice this long, but the limit here is 1,000 words.
When well into Chapter 4 and the beginning of Chapter 5, I was having serious trouble with what I was reading. My problems were often not with what the text stated, but with what was NOT stated. Near the top of page 133 is a "debunk" of the idea of the Blitzkrieg. It fails to describe the effectiveness of the strategy, e.g., the German attack into Poland and Belgium and France.
Page 139 has, "Superficially, the Soviet Union seemed to be exactly the sort of weak state that Germany had defeated so easily in the previous eighteen months." "Superficially"?? "Exactly"?? My marginal note says, "The Sov. Un. was MUCH larger. Much different than a small eastern European country that could be occupied and this way defeated." Doesn't make sense to me. This would be like comparing a bowling ball to a ping-pong ball.
By the end of Chapter 5, I had become considerably more uncertain of the credibility of the book, particularly with its lack of references. The first page of Chapter 6 has, "The Second World War did not witness a period of unprecedented technological advance and there is little evidence that the overall pace of change increased." The next paragraph states, "To some extent the most revolutionary changes in warfare took place during the 1930s. Most of the Second World War was fought by equipment either in service or designed in the 1930s."
These statements make no sense to me. The author seems to presume that new technology would be available almost immediately after its need was perceived, and this is simply not realistic. As a professor of politics, the author cannot be expected to be a technical expert, but such a statement should have been reviewed and corrected prior to publication. (For example, the Garand rifle took ten years to design, and it's trivial compared to a new fighter, a bomber or tank.) Further, the author is British, and for Britain, the war indeed started in the 1930s - September, 1939. How could they have used equipment that was designed later? Also, it fails to address equipment like the proximity fuse, and the huge advantages of short wavelength radar that allowed it to be used in aircraft, which had a major effect on the Battle of the Atlantic. Or the "Schnorkel" developed by the Germans. These are just three examples of many, and their design, development and placement into service occurred very rapidly compared to peacetime.
Chapter 7, "Combat", beginning on p.187, finished it for me. Frequently in the book, the author makes an assertion, then supports it with what appears to be carefully selected but non-representative examples. Here are some:
p.187: "First, the overwhelming majority of men conscripted never saw combat." This is both normal, and well known. Numbers vary, but 10 to 20 support troops are required for each soldier actually in combat. This is not "news", and I don't see the point of the statement.
p.188: "Although in retrospect the tank is seen as the dominant element in land warfare, in practice its contribution was very limited." I wonder if any of the Brits, Australians or New Zealanders who fought Rommel would agree. Or the Poles, Belgians and French who tried to stop the German attacks? Or those Germans who fought Patton?
p.191, with respect to combat casualties: "This was particularly so for the infantry, which suffered the highest proportion of casualties." My marginal notes: "Imagine that! And here I thought it would be artillerymen, or maybe mess cooks way behind the lines. . ."
Conclusions:
1. I do not know the intended audience for this book, but I am not among them. Although I am not - and make no claim to be - a historian, military or otherwise, I have read over 100 books on WW2, and hence have found it quite easy to "punch holes" in many of the book's assertions.
2. I bought this book at a yard sale for 50 cents. By the time I had reached page 260, I was happy that I had paid no more than that. It would be a huge mistake to use this book to form general conclusions about World War II. It does contain some valuable information, but there are no references by which it can be verified, and there are far too many assertions that are either unsupported or rely on non-typical examples. There is no way to separate the valuable from the non-valuable without extensive additional reading.
3. I would very much like to see an extensive re-write where the "chaff" is removed from the "wheat" for the reader. I believe the factual, significant information found here is quite valuable, and would have great potential in acquiring an objective perspective of World War II when combined with further reading. But my guess is that a re-write would just about cut it in half.
In summary, I believe this book fails to achieve the claim of its title, and also fails to provide either a reasonable perspective or a reasonable understanding of World War II.
Bill Muckerheide
New Mexico, USA
wamco1nm "at" abq.com
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