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The Second World War: A Short History (Struggle for Survival) Paperback – 27 Sep 2001

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Review from previous edition Based on a matchless knowledge of the documents, he provides an authoritative treatment of military, diplomatic, and economic aspects, written with great force and insight. As a one-volume survey, it is unlikely to be surpassed... a magnificent achievement, a tour de force. (Kenneth O. Morgan, New Statesman and Society)

a miracle of compression compared with the rest of the horde of general histories. (Guardian)

Parker alights unerringly on the salient campaigns and issues, and considers them with consistent style and insight. (Times Educational Supplement)

The most balanced view of the causes and courses of the Second World War. (Field Marshal Lord Carver, Times Literary Supplement)

written in clear and elegant English ... a masterful account of the Second World War in all its different spheres. It is scrupulously fair, illuminated by an engaging sense of humour ... and gives an entirely balanced view of the varying contributions of the different powers engaged. (Richard Cobb, The Spectator)

Faced with volume after volume of books about the Second World War, R.A.C. Parker's Short History comes as a breath of fresh air ... it is refreshing to read such a modest-sized yet absorbing history of the years between 1939 and 1945 and what happened before and afer. A Short History is both concise and absorbing - an "introduction" to anyone wanting to know more about the war and an example of how a taut history book can be captivating. (Madeleine Burton, Herts Adverstiser (St Albans Edition))

About the Author

R.A.C. Parker is a Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
TWO separate wars made up the 'Second World War': a European war and a Far Eastern war. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8d19d618) out of 5 stars 22 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d228960) out of 5 stars Wonderfully Concise Yet Comprehensive History Of WWII! 6 Jan. 2001
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For serious students of the WWII era wishing to have a handy, concise, and yet quite comprehensive overview of the Second World War and its times by way of a one-volume effort, this is the book to start with. Unlike much more massive, detailed, and descriptive tomes such as Gerhard Weinberg's "A World At War", Sir Martin Gilbert's "The Second World War", or the new "A War To Be Won" by Murray and Millett, this book pares down the tremendous sweep and circumstances surrounding the war to a relatively brief (just over three hundred pages) and yet amazingly concise and comprehensive narrative. Indeed, Professors from Harvard to Stanford often assign this book for introductory courses on World War Two because it is both manageable and accurate.

Parker's narrative is informed by his matchless grasp of the relevant documents and official records as well as a unique feel for the way in which the various aspects of the conflict interweave and interact to create and sustain a worldwide conflagration. In his stirring and entertaining treatment, one finds a treasure trove of details, and at the same time also gains a better understanding of the way in which the economic, diplomatic, and military factors combine during the drift toward war in the late 1930s. In this sense the book is written with great verve and obvious historical impact.

Viewed in this way, the book can be considered a quite compact and yet still comprehensive overview of the war itself, how it began, its slow and horrific progress, and how it was both won by the Allies and lost by the Axis powers. Indeed, one comes away from the reading experience with a much improved and enhanced appreciation for the far-reaching impact the war had on humanity at large, since the war affected everyone, combatants, noncombatants, and onlookers alike. As Parker argues quite persuasively, the Second World War changed the course of the 20th century forever.

The author faithfully traces how the key events of the war progress, showing how the strategies of each of the participants as well as their indigenous populations and economies affect the course of the conflict. In looking at major battles and campaigns, Parker provides a wealth of insight that is disproportionately detailed compared to the length of the book, and provides the reader with a wonderfully informative, insightful, and entertaining reading experience. He discusses specific aspects of the war such as mobile warfare, the Holocaust, forced migration, and the use of the atomic bomb in a way that helps the reader to understand the importance of each and gives specific reasons as to how and why they occurred. This is a book that is easy to recommend to anyone wanting a relatively concise and yet immensely rewarding reading experience. Enjoy!
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8da35900) out of 5 stars Superb history. 21 Oct. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If only a single one-volume history of World War II had to be chosen, it would be hard to beat this one.
The entire global sweep of this greatest of all wars is covered comprehensively here, from its historical and economic roots to its world-changing consequences. The narrative is graceful and remarkably readable, with such essential matters as balance-of-forces and production figures woven in skillfully and painlessly, rendering unnecessary the footnotes which clutter other works of this scale. The author's analyses of issues of Allied leadership are models of fair-minded judgement and balanced perspective, and his evaluations of generalship virtually unassailable, to the probable discomfort of partisans of all stripes.

Parker's work is exemplary history, and a rare pleasure to read as well. Highly recommended.

(The numerical rating above is an ineradicable default setting within this page. This reviewer does not employ numerical ratings.)
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8e018cb4) out of 5 stars Excellent overview 12 Jan. 2000
By T. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent overview of the Second World War using the most recent information available. Parker's book is well-written, lucid and concise. I am using it to teach a undergraduate level history course on the war.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8d7c9c24) out of 5 stars Very good as a strategic level study 16 Aug. 2005
By Dimitrios - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A very good study of World War II focusing on the strategic level of the war as well as its social and economi aspects. The reader will not find too many details about military operations, albeit there are some interesting points which are presented with exceptional clarity. The size of the book precludes any lengthy reference to particular battles, thus many of them are mentioned in only a few sentences or not at all (like the German campaign in the Balkans (1941), the liberation of Ukraine (1944), the battle of Berlin (1945) and the destruction of the Japanese Kwantug Army (1945)). This deficiency is balanced though by the wealth of statistics regarding production figures, human losses and economic data. Parker has also made a fine job analyzing the US-British relations on the strategic level, the reasons behind the decisions taken and the role of the USSR in the Allied camp. He is also honest about the great contribution of the Soviets to the war effort and the horrible destruction they caused to the German Army. Overall, a good introduction to World War II and a handy reference to its basic military and political dimensions.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8de76e7c) out of 5 stars Was the book revised extensively in 1997? 10 Jun. 2009
By Franklin Wong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of this book, published in 1989, and have different comments from many of the reviewers here. The chapters on the origins and impact of WWII (Chapters 1, 15-18), and on the topics of Anglo-American strategies, strategic bombing and morale (Chapters 8, 10 and 11) are informative. The 6 chapters on the European and North African fronts are generally strong, although a bit pro-British. Yet the 3 chapters about the Pacific war are very weak. There are other one-volume history of the Second World War which provides a more balanced and global perspective than this one.
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