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Second World War [Hardcover]

Winston Churchill
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (T) (April 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395075416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395075418
  • Product Dimensions: 25.9 x 23.6 x 15.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,716,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for historians 28 July 2008
The thing to remember first and foremost with these books is that it's a memoir. If you are looking for a balanced overview of the events of World War II this book is not for you. It's written from his point of view based on what he did at the time. His correspondence form the backbone of the narrative. As a result, other interpretations of events are not featured in the story and it is told from a very British angle.

That said, what a story! Volume One deals with the inter-war years. He describes the rise of fascism in what would become the axis countries and the rise of pacifism/neutralism in what would become the Allies. At times it's a bit I-told-you-so but he did tell-us-so so I guess that's his perogative. This takes us up to him becoming Prime Minister with Britain in its darkest hour.

From then on the volumes describe the prosecution of the war. The fact that it's written from his point-of-view, although the books biggest drawback, is also its biggest strength. The events are told plainly and in these parts the scenes leap from the pages. When he talks about his letters to Mussolini and Matsuoka; his meetings with Stalin, Roosevelt and Truman: the series of conferences between the war-leaders, we realise that there is only one man that could write like this. It's Churchill at his best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality with relatively low price! 28 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At the moment I received it, I was really shocked. Don't worry. I mean it is really amazing. The books look just like the new ones. No impairment occurs and the package is really nice.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  226 reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A classic, but the Kindle edition is lacking 14 Dec 2009
By P. Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sadly, the Kindle Edition of this work fails to do it justice. Churchill has dotted this text with numerous charts and tables illustrating the progress of the war, and every single one of them is completely illegible. The Kindle edition has included them at a shamefully useless resolution, and so I must suggest that any interested reader buy a different edition. I am very disappointed in this purchase.
94 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical accuracy and personal experience 17 Feb 2000
By Thomas Brueckner-Schunk - Published on Amazon.com
Churchill's book is really astonishing, not only for the sheer size, but for the vast expand of knowledge displayed and the personal experience behind it. Churchill includes hundreds of documents and thus gives ample proof of what he writes. His strongest moments are his criticism of British appeasement policy and the account of 1940/41, where his will to survive and his pertinacity can still be felt through the pages. His personal experience is always there, though he refrains from giving his readers too many anecdotes. In spite of the fact the everything was written very shortly after the war, most things are quite accurate, though the pages on Nazi Germany are not always enlightened. But - being German - I have never felt any hatred towards my people as a whole and one can well join in with his disgust of Germany at that time. The book, or rather books, never bore. An absolute masterpiece of historical writing.
92 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Thematic Approach to Understanding WWII! 2 July 2000
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I do not agree that this is the single best one-volume treatment of World War Two available, I do agree it is a wonderful, eminently readable, and fascinating thematic approach that helps the reader look at the basic overarching themes to found in WWII. The introduction explaining how and why world wars became possible and attractive is worth the price of the book alone. Only Keegan could bring so much style, verve, and new perspective to such a widely covered subject as the Second World War. Therefore, understanding that the book is not an exhaustive and comprehensive history of the war on a battle by battle, theater by theater approach as one can find in other excellent one volume books such as Gerhard Weinberg's "A World At Arm" or Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett's "A War To Be Won", it is still a singular tome with a unique and valuable perspective on the war that any self-respecting student of the war will not want to miss.
Also, given Mr. Keegan's mastery of the written word and his way with a phrase, this is a book one lets drag on as you read it slowly, stopping to think about what he has just written in a particular paragraph and what it means. This is indeed great stuff! The book is organized chronologically but devotes specific chapters in the general narrative to particular important factors influencing the progress and direction of the war effort, such as the nazi bombing campaigns, the Allied war air over Germany, war production, organized resistance in occupied countries, and the various types and relative successes associated with espionage.
Keegan's ability to marshal a stirring and articulate argument is unparalleled, and he relates the opposing forces' war strategies with an authority no one else can match. He also appreciates the many different levels of contribution to the overall war efforts ranging from unique leadership characteristics of specific individuals such as Montgomery, Patton, Eisenhower, and Marshall, but also pays attention to the massive contributions of ordinary soldiers, sailors, and war production civilians who made important efforts aiding ultimate victory. This is a very well-written and meticulously researched and documented book, and one I am glad to have on my World War Two bookshelf!
68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping history recounted from and at a very high level 15 May 2000
By Owen Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
I bought Churchill's 6-volume history of the Second World War many years ago, but did not find the strength to begin reading it until some time later. The effect was immediate. Although it took me over a year to read all of it, that was only because I have long had the habit of reading a number of books concurrently. I simply couldn't put Churchill down. To say that the story of World War II is a gripping one, is to put it mildly. How much more gripping do you think it might be in the hands of that one unique individual who was both one of the central players and the recorder of the events themselves. At times, I found myself actually wanting certain historical events to go in favour of the Allies although, naturally, I already knew the outcome! Such is the effect of Churchill's writing.
In the second volume "Their Finest Hour," Britain was holding the fort against Hitler alone. After Dunkirk, spirits were low all over the place and the value of Dr Goebells's secret weapon was able to come into play with great effect. One can imagine the feeling of the citizenry of Britain at that time, trapped as they felt themselves to be in that little island, with an unbeaten army just across the channel snarling at them. The whys and wherefores of the actions of both Hitler and the German General Staff at that time, can be discussed until you are blue in the face. The fact is that, although most people on both sides of the Atlantic thought they were about to hop across and finish the job, the Germans hesitated, mainly for lack of a plan, and lost the chance. I don't know for sure if Churchill also thought the British might have been defeated in July, August or September of 1940, but from the end of that odd period of stalemate, he never looked back.
This is fine writing by a, dare I say, highly experienced writer who was right in the thick of things almost from the word go. What a stroke of luck it was that Churchill, like Caesar but unlike Napoleon, both lived it and wrote it.
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Narrative 29 Dec 1999
By Matthew Martens - Published on Amazon.com
Keegan provides an excellent narrative of a topic that is almost too big to include in one volume. He organizes the book into six parts, each covering a specific time frame and theatre of war (e.g., The War in the East 1943-1945). In each part he provides the reader with a description of important events, as well as "tidbits" of his own analysis. I found these "tidbits", where Keegan provides commentary on the usefulness of a particular strategy, long-term effect of a battle, etc., the most enlightening aspect of the book. I was frustrated by the lack of depth in the book, but I suppose that in a one-volume history one can expect only so much. I recommend this book for readers who have never read anything on World War II, or those who are interested in "brushing up" their general knowledge. If you are looking for detalied description and analysis of specific World War II events you should search elsewhere, but for a single volume general history Keegan's work is excellent.
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