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The Second World War [Hardcover]

Antony Beevor
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jun 2012

The Second World War began in August 1939 on the edge of Manchuria and ended there exactly six years later with the Soviet invasion of northern China. The war in Europe appeared completely divorced from the war in the Pacific and China, and yet events on opposite sides of the world had profound effects. Using the most up-to-date scholarship and research, and writing with clarity and compassion, Beevor assembles the whole picture in a gripping narrative that extends from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, from the snowbound steppe to the North African Desert, to the Burmese jungle, SS Einsatzgruppen in the borderlands, Gulag prisoners drafted into punishment battalions, and to the unspeakable cruelties of the Sino-Japanese War.

Moral choice forms the basis of all human drama, and no other period in history has presented greater dilemmas both for leaders and ordinary people, nor offered such examples of individual and mass tragedy, the corruption of power politics, ideological hypocrisy, the egomania of commanders, betrayal, perversity, self-sacrifice, unbelievable sadism and unpredictable kindness. Although filling the broadest canvas on a heroic scale, Beevor's THE SECOND WORLD WAR never loses sight of the fate of the ordinary soldiers and civilians whose lives were crushed by the titanic forces unleashed in this, the most terrible war in history.

A beautifully produced hardback edition with embossed jacket, 53 black and white photographs and 25 maps.

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The Second World War + Stalingrad + Berlin: The Downfall 1945
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 880 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Edition edition (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297844970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297844976
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 16 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Antony Beevor was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst, where he studied under John Keegan. A regular officer with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write. He has published four novels, and ten books of non-fiction. His work has appeared in more than thirty foreign editions. His books include The Spanish Civil War; Inside the British Army; Crete -- The Battle and the Resistance, which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper). He has also contributed to several books including The British Army, Manpower and Society into the Twenty-First Century, edited by Hew Strachan and to Russia - War, Peace & Diplomacy in honour of the late John Erickson.
Stalingrad, first published in 1998, won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999. The British edition was a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback. Berlin - The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. It has been a No. 1 Bestseller in seven countries as well as Britain, and in the top five in another nine countries. The book received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award.
In May 2004, he published The Mystery of Olga Chekhova, which describes the experiences of the Chekhov and Knipper families from before the Russian revolution until after the Second World War. His Russian research assistant Dr Lyubov Vinogradova and he edited and translated the war time papers of the novelist Vasily Grossman, published in September 2005 as A Writer at War - Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945.
He has also published a completely revised edition of his 1982 history of the Spanish Civil War, with a great deal of new material from Spanish sources and foreign archives. This came out in Spain in September 2005 as La guerra civil española where it became the No.1 Bestseller and received the La Vanguardia prize for non-fiction. It appeared in English in spring, 2006, as The Battle for Spain - The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. It has been a top ten bestseller in eight countries.
D-Day - The Battle for Normandy, published in June 2009, has been a No 1 Bestseller in seven countries, including the UK and France, and in the top ten in another eight countries. It has received the Prix Henry Malherbe in France and the Duke of Westminster Medal from the Royal United Services Institute.
His most recent book, The Second World War, published in June 2012, is being translated into twenty-one languages. It has already been a No 1 bestseller in Britain and four other countries, and a bestseller in another four. Altogether, more than five million copies of his books have been sold.
Antony Beevor was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1997 and in 2008 was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana by the President of Estonia. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He was the 2002-2003 Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge. In 2003, he received the first Longman-History Today Trustees' Award. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. In September 2003, he succeeded Philip Pullman as Chairman of the Society of Authors and handed over to Helen Dunmore in September, 2005. He has received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and the University of Bath. He was a judge of the British Academy Book Prize and the David Cohen Prize in 2004, and is a member of the Samuel Johnson Prize steering committee. He is married to the writer and biographer Artemis Cooper and they have a daughter Nella and a son Adam.

Product Description


His singular ability to make huge historical events accessible to a general audience recalls the golden age of British narrative history, whose giants include Gibbon, Macaulay and Carlyle. (Boyd Tonkin THE INDEPENDENT)

Beevor can be credited with single-handedly transforming the reputation of military history. (David Edgar THE GUARDIAN)

A truly outstanding historian of war (Michael Howard STANDPOINT)

A British historian of great distinction and range, who ... demonstrates his mastery of his sources. (Gordon Craig NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS)

His accounts of the key moments in the second world war have a sense of colour, drama and immediacy that few narrative historians can match (Dominic Sandbrook THE SUNDAY TIMES 2012-05-27)

If you want to understand the war as military struggle, this book is all you really need. However well you thought you knew the subject, you will learn something new on every page. (Neill Denny WE LOVE THIS BOOK online)

You feel yourself being carried along on the narrative flow, channelled this way and that through the pools and rapids by Beevor's expert helmanship. (Patrick Bishop STANDPOINT 2012-06-01)

Brocaded with details of the great campaigns and thoughtful explanations of Hitler's murderous belligerence, The Second World War is an absorbing, unsparingly lucid work of military history. (Ian Thomson THE SPECTATOR 2012-06-02)

The myriad pieces of this intricate kaleidoscope are pieced together with exemplary skill. (Roger Moorhouse THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 2012-06-03)

This is a splendid book, erudite, with an admirable clarity of thought and expression. (Roger Moorhouse THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 2012-06-03)

Beevor's book is a pleasure to read and an example of intelligent, lively historical writing at its best. (Tony Barber THE FINANCIAL TIMES 2012-06-03)

Everyone who is interested in the Second World War should read this book. (Laurence Rees WW2HISTORY.COM 2012-06-04)

This is as comprehensive and objective an account of the course of the war as we are likely to get, and the most humanly moving to date. (John Gray NEW STATESMAN 2012-06-11)

The book that Beevor has been building towards writing - and everybody else has been anticipating reading. (Donal O'Donoghue RTE GUIDE 2012-06-02)

remarkably well-written and informative (Norman Stone LITERARY REVIEW 2012-06-01)

This is the place to begin if you need to get your knowledge of the war in order. (Hew Strachan EVENING STANDARD 2012-06-07)

This is history writ large. (James Owen THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH SEVEN Magazine 2012-06-10)

Beevor is excellent at catching the individual in the flood-tide of events. (John Lewis-Stempel SUNDAY EXPRESS 2012-06-10)

The book could not really have been done better. (MILITARY HISTORY MONTHLY)

A magnificent performance - true excitement from one page to the next delivered in faultless prose. (Christopher Silvester DAILY EXPRESS 2012-06-15)

the whole story told in the author's usual erudite yet highly readable prose (DESPATCHES Magazine)

The heart of Beevor's appeal is precisely that straightforward narrative approach, coupled with his lively, engaging style and his use of memorable, almost cinematic, set-pieces. (HISTORY TODAY 2012-06-26)

He is the most humanitarian of historians, and covers huge sweeps of history through the real stories of the individuals who experienced them. Reading this will be like having him walk me through the history of the war like a personal guide. (Kate Mosse)

This is a book demanding to be read. (Christopher Bray THE OXFORD TIMES 2012-07-05)

a masterly understanding of the conflict's many facets (THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 2012-07-15)

For as harrowing and politically convoluted as the years 1939-1945 were, Beevor writes with such a panache and literary flair, that the reader is almost uncannily charged to keep turning the pages at a rate of ten by ten, twenty by twenty, chapter by chapter - until such point that s/he has stumbled upon the end as if by chance, as if by default. (David Marx 2012-07-16)

By deploying his keen eye for tiny detail and penchant for story telling, and then marrying them both with an acute historical investigation, Antony Beevor has once again written a book that is simply superlative. (David Marx 2012-07-16)

This imposing history can both be read as a whole or dipped into, and never fails to inform. (WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?)

This book is a perfect mixture of world history and human experience, unbiased and highly readable. (THE JOURNAL 2012-07-14)

As we have come to expect from this master, he excels at using eye-witness testimony to illustrate how mankind can be capable of both terrible cruelty and astonishing courage. (Andrew Rawnsley THE OBSERVER 2012-11-25)

global history at its grandest and best (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 2012-11-24)

the most incredibly detailed research (Chris Tarrant THE SUNDAY EXPRESS S MAGAZINE 2012-12-02)

a truly rewarding account of the global conflict. Beevor has a special gift for linking great events with individual testimony (Amanda Foreman MAIL ON SUNDAY)

In his books on Stalingrad and Berlin, Beevor used evidence from ordinary people to bring home the reality of life at the front as opposed to the traditional HQ view... He crams in so much and does it so well because he can. (Good Book Guide 2013-10-01)

Book Description

A magisterial, single-volume history of the greatest conflict the world has ever known by our foremost military historian

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second World War by Antony Beevor 28 Jun 2012
The Second World War by Antony Beevor is a well written book on an epic conflict on a global scale and a highly documented subject.

To take on a subject as complex and as multi-faceted as the second World War and still keep the narrative interesting would be a challenge to any author and yet Antony Beevor manages to do this in the books 879 pages.

The book deals with the all aspects of the War from the European and Pacific Theatres and their decisive battles and campaigns to the less well known ones such as those in North Africa, Burma and the campaigns in the Mediterranean region.

I also liked the way the book deals with not just the Major characters in the War such as Churchill, Hitler, Stalin etc... but also the perspective of ordinary soldiers on both sides and also the innocent civilians who got caught up in the conflict.

I first heard about the book through BBC History magazines Podcast where the Author Antony Beevor was interviewed and some aspects of his book and his approach to the material were discussed and it pricked my curiosity.

Needless to say the book is a compulsive read by an engaging author. I highly recommed it to those interested in the History of the World War Two and History lovers in general.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monumental , sound and sobering 26 Sep 2012
By Ariadne
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anthony Beevor's book provides an excellent and often compassionate account of this most appalling human tragedy. It is written in his well established authorative yet readable style. I am not an historian as such but as far as I can tell, from other books I have consulted, Beevor has successfully brought together the account of this event and clearly demonstrates why WWII still casts the long shadow across generations like mine, fortunate enough not to have experience of it at first hand. I have been a little surprised that some celebrated episodes are not referred to even in passing, but I accept that in a single volume like this, some events may have played a rather minor part in WWII as a whole. It is a harrowing account and one wonders how anyone who lived through the Second World War would not be altered and conditioned by it. The brutality of it as described here is at times utterly distressing.

The book suffers from a deficiency in maps (there are a few but they are not the best). A work like this could do with a supporting website to provide clearer and more detailed cartography, or failing that, at least perhaps a recommended war atlas to provide locations and campaigns that formed the contexts of the war, and the chapters of this book.
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259 of 276 people found the following review helpful
The sheer immensity of the Second World War is even now, after more ink has been spilt on it than on almost any other event in history, almost impossible to grasp. The war affected countless people in every conceivable small and big way, it changed the fate of innumerable nations and set the tone for issues with which we are still grappling, and it showcased the very best and very worst in human nature. Very few historians are capable of capturing this epic panorama of tragedy and triumph on paper. Happily for us, Antony Beevor is one of those chosen few who can. In the past few decades he has established himself as a war historian of the first rank. This volume can be seen as the culmination of a stellar career during which he has introduced us to the very nature of war and its human elements. Beevor's sweeping, magisterial account of this great conflict excels in three ways that are characteristic of his past scholarship on D-Day, Stalingrad and Berlin.

Firstly, Beevor delivers the raw strategic and historical facts with a relentless, crisp pace, covering all major events, participants and theaters of war. The history is informed by a treasure trove of material cited in the notes, including personal sources such as the invaluable diary of Soviet correspondent Vasily Grossman. There are 50 chapters and the title of each chapter describes the one or two key events narrated in it. The brevity of the chapters makes the book accessible and great for bedtime reading. A particular skill of Beevor's is in condensing the most important information in relatively brief paragraphs. Rather than provide separate extended quotes from the prime participants, he excerpts these quotes within the paragraphs.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a superbly written, and very readable, account which covers the global sweep of the Second World War, with clear explanation of the factors which drove events at the time, as well as excellent narrations of the events themselves. There is also a strong human dimension in the writing - the motivations of the key players and the effects of war on the lives of combatants and civilians is recounted superbly, often in the words of those who were there.

Antony Beevor's magisterial, and superbly researched, history is not biased towards coverage of a particular geographical region or country. This history explains the events of the war in each of the main, and many of the smaller, theatres of war; there is much here for, example, about the events in Asia, as well as the war in Western and Eastern Europe. As a general reader i found much that was new to me, and many fresh insights into the events of which I already had fairly good knowledge

Beevor makes clear the horror of war, and its appalling human cost, whilst providing a highly informative, beautifully illustrated and very readable narrative.

Highly recommended
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Journalism, not history
Apart from the eyewitness accounts, this all appears to be based on secondary sources. The chronology is strange and the impulsion for narrative means that there is a very... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Sibree William
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 23 days ago by Dr John Hollowood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 24 days ago by mr s a lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book with fast delivery.
Published 26 days ago by mrs christine edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars I fully recommend it to the lovers of history
A rule marvelous book I can recall only a few books that have captured by time -is a very long book- and thrilled me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by vavdublin
4.0 out of 5 stars An enlightening read.
Thorougly detailed in recounting the many aspects of the war, I learned a lot which will lead me to explore more detail of the individual elements.
Published 1 month ago by pjn
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning
We'll written and loaded with facts and personal accounts. I thought I knew a lot about WWII until I read this. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Andrew M. Doig
5.0 out of 5 stars a1 book
another good war book I loved this book I like the way it was told great true stories loved it
Published 1 month ago by coli james campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars The 2nd World War
Antony Beevor's account of the last great war is detailed, well written and easy to read. I can't say its enjoyable because it covers such a terrible period of the last century. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jenny Mayers
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and comprehensive
I am only 25% through (on kindle) at the minute but I am already hooked. A very comprehensive account- Antony really knows his stuff!
Published 2 months ago by Mr M Harris
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