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The Second World War: A Complete History

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (20 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455154814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455154814
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 16 x 9.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Review

Alongside his account of the First World War, this classic book belongs on every bookshelf (NORTHERN ECHO)

Sir Martin's great acheivement is his ability never to lose sight of the individual in a history of mass war and mass suffering. (CONTEMPORARY REVIEW) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A striking new edition of the most authoritative account of the Second World War by one of the greatest living military historians. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never read a complete account of the Second World War. I was looking for a book that would bring together all the various events that seemed in my own mind to define its progress. The Blitzkrieg of Poland, Dunkirk, Stalingrad, Pearl Harbour and so on towards D-day. I chose Martin Gilbert's book because of having read his history of WW1 and being impressed by his evident humanity and respect for all combatants and the recognition that all who died were individuals with loved ones. He does not disappoint here. The style is pure narrative and the larger events are interspersed with stories of individuals. There is very little judgement and Gilbert allows the events themselves to define "right" and "wrong" if we wish to try to define it beyond all the carnage and horror.

The text just became more and more harrowing, more and more gripping as the war unfolds. It became unrelenting in its record of shocking and virtually unbelievable horror. At times I was reduced to tears.

It has to be five stars. Or none.
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Format: Paperback
Sir Martin Gilberts masterful account of the history of the second world war. What makes this history so different from the others is the way in which Sir Martin can switch from the story of an entire offensive onslaught to tell the story of a single young private and his experience of that same battle. Somehow the results of the actions or the death of a single person or group of people can be so much more effective in explaining the true glory of war, or in debunking the great myth of the glory of war depending on your viewpoint. Sir Martin can and does give examples of both. The historical facts are still there, but so also is the humanity, with both of it's faces showing. A book for anyone with an interest in the Second World War who doesn't want just facts and casualty figures.
Boothers
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Several years ago I read an old-fashioned paper version of Martin Gilbert's First World War, and I was always curious about the sequel. Not curious enough to buy it until it came out as an eBook. I ended up reading it whilst on holiday in Budapest, which was an odd experience because Budapest has a small guest appearance towards the end of the book - it is demolished. Almost every location that appears in Second World War is demolished.

First World War was a straightforward and relatively conventional narrative history. Gilbert's treatment of the sequel is a lot more direct. On a pragmatic level he was probably just short of space, but the spartan narrative mirrors the brutal, mechanistic nature of the war itself. The Nazi war aims were unsubtle; the conduct of the war began with some deft military footwork but quickly turned into a series of bludgeoning hammer blows; by 1945 the Nazis were simply killing people for no reason at all, the Japanese were stuffing a generation of young men into a meat grinder for nothing, and it only ended with the obliteration of entire cities, the deaths of millions, the atomic hellfire of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the total upsetting of the existing world order. In the process Europe was crushed like a bug and the modern world was made.

Gilbert begins on page one with the invasion of Poland and continues chronologically thereafter. No boxouts, no diversions, no thematic essays. He leaps from one theatre to the other seamlessly, although this does get repetitive; it goes military action - civilian atrocities - military action - atrocities for page after page. Hundreds, thousands die on every page and I occasionally wondered which paragraph had the highest death toll.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As histories of the Second World War go, this one is well down my list of good reads. It is very little more than a day by day account with too much emphasis on the Bletchley and other decrypts and the appalling inhumane treatment of the Jews. The equally appalling and inhumane treatment of other nationals by the Germans and of Allied prisoners of war by the Germans and the Japanese, and of German prisoners by the Russians, is by contrast glossed over. The killing of Jews resulted almost entirely for no other reason than their being Jewish but the total civilian death toll was many times higher in circumstances no less horrific. There is almost nothing in Gilbert's history of the major arguments between the Allies over war strategy and anyone would think that Allied victories owed everything to intelligence intercepts. In fact victory was owed to many things and people, not least Churchill of whom Gilbert was the biographer. There are much better accounts of the Second World War than this, unless you just want a daily news diary. If you want military history read Liddell Hart.. If you want political history read Churchill's 6 volumes. Otherwise read Max Hastings.
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