The best thing about this book is that it is pure, unadulterated narrative. Symptomatic of Gilbert's approach is the way the very first lines of the book throw us straight in at the point Germany attacked Poland Sep 1, 1939. There's no long drawn out preamble or musings on the why and wherefores; you can find that in other books. Gilbert's approach is completely chronological, flitting from one theatre of war to another. His style is unobtrusive- as it should be- but elegant enough, and always authoritative. He wisely lets the facts speak for themselves - the horrors of the holocaust, the savagery and scale of the war between Russia and Germany, the amazing suicidal tactics of the Japanese in countless Pacific islands. These are so amazing in themselves that the narrative holds you breathless over 700 pages. I was flabbergasted by this book. I am not given to hyperbole but I am tempted to say this book changed my life; it certainly changed my views on human beings, history, politics and war.