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Why the Allies Won Paperback – May 1997

30 customer reviews

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Paperback, May 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039331619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393316193
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,427,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A compelling analysis... skilful and chilling" (Ross Davies Economist)

"A much needed book... He deserves the attention of a wide audience" (Donald Cameron Independent)

"Richard Overy is writing at the height of his powers... The result is often startling, never less than fascinating" (Adam Sisman Observer)

"A thought provoking reappraisal of the war - deeply researched, complex and yet beautifully lucid" (Correlli Barnett Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Outstanding... Overy has written a masterpiece of analytical history, posing and answering one of the great questions of the century' - Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Inside This Book

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WHY DID THE ALLIES win World War II? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
If you thought Montogomery was a fool or Churchill a master strategist then read this. This book examines the key battlefields (Overy is, as usual, superb in his account of the Eastern front) on land and sea, the leaders and the economic background. He vindicates bombing, Zhukov and Montgomery but makes Churchill look rather out-of-touch. Occassionally too terse - the key moments of the war in the Pacific are dealt with in a couple of hundred words - at others rather long winded (such as in his admiration of the Soviet planning system). But well worth buying.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Simon J Parsons on 26 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
When my father lent me this book i was initally dismissive reagrding the contents given the title as the answer appeared obvious. However, this book seeks to dispell many assumptions reagrding the allies victory being inevitable. It is full of facinating strategic military insights as well as containing quite staggering statistics regarding the output of the military powers and their inherent strengths and weaknesses. For instance the German war industry was fastidious to the point of inefficiency, whereas, the United states based on the principles of mass production turned the economy around to military production so quickly that the Ford motor company produced more arnaments than Italy as a whole! Well worth investigating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Paris on 11 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a student of history, it is sometimes easy to yearn for the yesteryear of my Foundation Degree, where English Literature was my major. For while historical texts are notoriously boring long-winded and "heavy-going", Overy's brilliant work is both informative and stimulating.

The chapters are clearly categorised enabling the reader, scholar or lay, to dip in and seek the answer to the question he/she might have. His focus on the role economics play in war is both useful and understandable. It is at such points that even the keenest of readers can get lost in a plethora of statistics. Yet Overy draws out the essentials in a digestible way.

I commend this book to you, whatever level you feel you're at. I guarantee you'll learn something knew about this exciting epoch in world history. His closing chapter has rekindled my passion for the subject.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jan Wammen on 31 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Richard Overy's book is a very good example of a strong analysis of the Second World War.
A couple of things, I am missing in his account of the allied victory is two things. One is the role of intelligence, which he himself writes that he do not attribute to having a war-winning effect, and therefore do not single out, but instead mentioning it, when it is important, to his account. I don't think that you can underestimate the value of allied intelligence. The Soviet union had througout the war very good direct and indirect sources as regards German military planning. I Overy puts to little emphasis on this.
Another thing is that Overy puts emphasis on the importance of the weather in the context of D-Day, but he doesn't do it in relation to the Eastern front. There is no doubt that "General Mud" and "General Winter" played a very important role in slowing down the German offensive on the Eastern front.
It is also a very sweeping statement that "he (Hitler) did not consider economics as central to the war effort." (p. 206) Hitler put a very strong emphasis on certain aspects of war economics for instance raw materials. He stopped the advance on Moscow in 1941 and didn't repeat in 1942 because he wanted to focus on the natural wealth of the Ukraine and the Caucasus, and in this context said that "His generals didn't understand the economics of war". He even talked about the reconquest of the Rumanian oil wells in the Bunker in 1945. Eventually, neither Hitler nor his generals had a deep understanding of the essentials of the war economy such as mass production etc., which is also mentioned by Overy.
And all in all, a very good book, which also gave me new information for instance of the effect of allied air power.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donaldo on 2 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Firstly, this is a far from comprehensive view of the war, as some reviewers have pointed out. Then again, with a conflict as big and sprawling (and as heavily reasearched and written about) as WW2, we can hardly be surprised by this. What the author does do is bring together some very interesting analysis to parts of the war often overlooked, and comes to some quite interesting conclusions.

The analysis that bears the most fruit is that of the economies of WW2, and the contrast between the Axis and Allied powers in how they understood what Total War meant. For the Axis powers, they didn't get it. Germany is a good example - lauded for the technical sophistication of its blitzkrieg forces, it failed decisively to understand that quantity mattered as much as quality. As a demonstration of this lack of understanding, the author points out the inefficiencies in German production. One example cites the Germans using something ridiculous like 0ver 100 different types of trucks - all of course, needing different parts and made in different factories, making the job of a panzer division's mechanic a nightmare. Soviets and Americans however had 1 type of truck, produced on a very few locations. The Soviets took it to almost minimalist levels - for much of the war producing 2 types of rifle, 1 type of tank, 2 types of planes. To say they out produced Germany puts it mildly. Germany may have created blitzkrieg, but they had an economy only ready to fight small short-term conflicts. They didn't step up production under Albert Speer's production until it was much too late in the war to make any difference. What is more, the allies really did embrace blitzkrieg, by the end of the war having completely mechanised and motorized divisions.
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