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The Origins of the Second World War in Europe (Origins Of Modern Wars) Paperback – 26 Apr 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (26 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405840285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405840286
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"At last we have a good survey of Europe's route to World War II.  P.M.H. Bell's study is a worthy sequel to its distinguished predecessor, James Joll's The Origins of the First World War.  On the whole the accuracy, precision, and balance are outstanding.  Bell's words are carefully chosen, and he has produced a remarkable synthesis, complete with concrete detail and intelligent but not excessive use of statistics.  The resulting work is reliable and judicious, very erudite but never ponderous."                           
Sally Marks, American Historical Review

"Bell's new book transcends (A.J.P.) Taylor and can replace him.  Bell has delved more thoroughly into the intricate problems they both treat.  He… handles the evidence more fairly, and is less sure that he knows all the answers."
M.R.D. Foot, Albion

"This is a vast topic, and all one can do, by way of brief review, is to commend the masterly equity, lucidity and inclusiveness of Philip Bell's survey of its bewildering complexities."
Martin Fagg, Times Educational Supplement

"lucid, balanced and sane"
Eric Summers, History Teaching Review 

From the Back Cover

PRAISE FOR EARLIER EDITIONS:

"At last we have a good survey of Europe's route to World War II.  P.M.H. Bell's study is a worthy sequel to its distinguished predecessor, James Joll's The Origins of the First World War.  On the whole the accuracy, precision, and balance are outstanding.  Bell's words are carefully chosen, and he has produced a remarkable synthesis, complete with concrete detail and intelligent but not excessive use of statistics.  The resulting work is reliable and judicious, very erudite but never ponderous."                            Sally Marks, AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

"Bell's new book transcends (A.J.P.) Taylor and can replace him.  Bell has delved more thoroughly into the intricate problems they both treat.  He… handles the evidence more fairly, and is less sure that he knows all the answers." 

                                                                                          M.R.D. Foot, ALBION 

"This is a vast topic, and all one can do, by way of brief review, is to commend the masterly equity, lucidity and inclusiveness of Philip Bell's survey of its bewildering complexities."                  Martin Fagg, TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT 

"lucid, balanced and sane"             Eric Summers, HISTORY TEACHING REVIEW 

PMH Bell's famous book is a comprehensive study of the period and debates surrounding the European origins of the Second World War.  He approaches the subject from three different angles: describing the various explanations that have been offered for the war and the historiographical debates that have arisen from them, analysing the ideological, economic and strategic forces at work in Europe during the 1930s, and tracing the course of events from peace in 1932, via the initial outbreak of hostilities in 1939, through to the climactic German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 which marked the descent into general conflict. 

The third edition of this now classic text includes the following new features:

  • Up-to-date historiography
  • Chronology of principal events
  • Who’s who guide to participants
  • Photos, political cartoons and maps

Written in a lucid, accessible style, the text is an indispensable guide to the complex origins of the Second World War.

P.M.H. Bell is Honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Liverpool.  He is the author of France and Britain 1900-1940: Entente and Estrangement and France and Britain 1940-1994: The Long Separation.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Bell's book is an invaluable, balanced contribution to the study and continued debate on the origins of WWII.

One of the strengths of this book is that it makes clear what many of the debates are and does not pressurise overmuch any reader to take one or other view on each issue as presented.

Bell considers World War II origins in three distinct parts of his book.

The first part considers the causes of war generally then moves on to arguing the case for and against the view that WWII was but `... the second phase of a Thirty Years War, another round...' in the struggle against the German domination of Europe. The case against argues that a successful European recovery was cut short by the Great Depression and the consequential (?) rise of Hitler and the National Socialist Party in Germany.

The first part concludes with a chapter on different and opposing interpretations by historians of the inter-war years, a chapter which indicates just how alive historical debate is and will be on World War II origins, over and above the intervention of AJP Taylor in the early 1960s to create a debate in the first place (very useful at the time). The issues discussed include debate outlines on whether the war was premeditated or begun accidentally, whether it was Hitler's war or another German war in which Hitler was no more than a new representative, whether the war was ideological in nature or just another old-fashioned war between states about power and whether the war was inevitable or surprising to most or all when it happened.

Part Two deals first with the underlying forces behind the events of the 1920s and 1930s.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent study on the subject, a wealth of info - a must read for those interested in the origins of the war 8 Jun. 2011
By Carl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this first-class analysis, Bell explores the origins of the Second World War. Rather than working through one crisis at a time in chronological order, from the beginning of the book, to provide an answer to the question of why the war began; Bell initially investigates, using the first two thirds of the book, the competing theories and other factors to provide excellent background information on the subject: Bell discusses the thirty year war thesis then the evidence and information brought forth that possibly refutes said thesis, the various economic debates, the range of opinions that surrounds AJP Taylor's work, how ideology played a role in influenced events, and how the various armed forces and politics played their part in shaping the inter-war years and the road to war.

Following this Bell spends the final section of the book discussing the various crises, treaties and other major events that made up the 1930s, the early war year and finally the German assault on the USSR; as Bell notes to explain why the war started, one has to proceed past the German invasion of Poland - the invasion of the Soviet Union presenting a possible answer to why war was started but at the same time raising completely new questions to why that attack was launched. Bell tackles the claims made by Viktor Suvorov that the USSR was going to attack Germany and repeatedly notes throughout the book how Stalin went out of his way to help Hitler, improve relations and was on the whole more concerned with the Japanese - they did not want war. In addition Bell continues to note in all sections of the book the social attitude and reaction to various issues discussed and the outbreak of war.

Overall, while providing a much more complete overview of the various problems and crisis that arose throughout the interwar years, this work is the polar opposite of such works as AJP Taylor. Taylor argues that the war came about almost by accident and that Hitler took advantage of situations that arose, that he did not really want a war. Bell argues that while Hitler did exploit situations these fitted into a long term plan and was far from being "beer house talk"; these long term goals were discussed repeatedly by Hitler and other key members of the Nazi regime at meetings/conferences/rally's etc throughout the 1930s and that men under these key people acted on this long term plan for example starting the "Ural Bomber" project in the early 30s, and the massive military build-up that occurred during the mid to late 30s. As Bell cynically notes if Hitler meant only half of what he said, war was inevitable; although he argues at length about the myriad of choices made by men at all levels throughout the major countries and how these pushed towards or away from war, at the end of the day the initiative laid with one nation and one man - war would only truly be avoided if Hitler backed down and acted reasonably.

A truly excellent work that is well sourced, presents all sides of the arguments, and still leaves room for Bell's own opinion on the subject. A wealth of information is available and the book will be an excellent resource for those studying the subject.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good book but lacks enthusiasm. 21 Sept. 2011
By evan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The writer did an Ok job, but he just rambles off and makes it confusing and boring. His thoughts are all over the place, not organised. Unless you have very good knowledge on WW1 and WW2, do NOT BUY OR READ this book. The writer himself was confused! Despite the fact that the 3rd edition was published in 2007, there is as far as I can remember, no mention of some very key personalities like Karl Haushofer and many more. I promise you, if you read this book without Significant knowledge, you will feel that the author published this book just for the heck of it. Other reviews may inspire you to buy this book but they ALL have a firm knowledge on Wars thus their reviews. I wanted this book for a major book review and really regretted selecting this book, I hope you will have better luck than me.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
FANTASTIC!!!! 2 Dec. 2009
By Michael Carr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have read about two dozen books on WWII and not one of them approaches the analysis or level of insight reached in Bell's book. To me, the book's strongest point is that it is an entirely objective account of the war and what prompted it. For historians with a strong liking for objective accounts which don't push agendas or accidenally contain political slants, this book is a bible. It is written with the objective detachment with which one would write about ancient Rome or some other historical event they are removed from and able to analytically view from different perspectives.
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