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253 of 259 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does he ever write a bad book?
I must confess I have read all of Mr Hastings past offerings concerning the Second World War, finding him to be consistently informative about the conflict that never ends - in publisher's eyes at least. In many ways a Hastings book is like your favourite grey cardigan, you slip it on, finding its feel both reassuring and comfy i.e you know what you will get. It is the...
Published on 16 Oct 2011 by Bobby Smith

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71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All Hell Let Loose
Generally speaking, Hastings seems to be fairly sound on the broad issues. If I do have doubts, they arise from the treatment of individual incidents of which I already knew a little.

Take the notorious PQ17 convoy to the Soviet Union. Hastings refers to Captain Broome, the commander of the destroyer flotilla. Why doesn't he mention to the subsequent libel...
Published on 27 Dec 2011 by RobertEmlyn


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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterly summary of a dysfunctional world, 24 Nov 2011
Max Hasting's summary of the second world war is a golden document of great distinction. It is also compulsive reading.
His research has covered a multitude of letters and diaries written by a wide variety of people who became involved.either as armed servicemen or as reporters or sadly, as hapless civilians who were dragged into the melee.

I lived through those years but there was so much I had not understood.
It is possible at this distance of time to be open about failures, either by individuals e.g Stalin or surprisingly Macarthur and including Alexander : even Churchill and Montgommery. But this honesty gives an authority to the story which increases the interest and allows the author to discuss strategy and tactics. Having criticised, however Max Hastings discusses sympathetically all the problems faced by the leaders of the various countrys
The book gives a ring of truth to an appalling seven years. The millions and millions of lost lives make one grieve all over again. It was indeed Hell on earth.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does Exactly What It Says On The Cover, 26 Oct 2011
By 
Thomas Robb "Hobmachine" (Bangor, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This book was bought on the reputation of Max Hastings previous body of work, including his tenure in Grub Street.

It's brilliant. Simply brilliant. I've been reading on this topic for 45 years and thought there wasn't much new to be written about that most covered of wars. I was wrong.

This is a very fresh approach with some radical ideas and a total page turner, which is praise indeed considering we know how it all ends: I have learned some very new stuff here and been given food for thought.

The prose moves swiftly, yet covers enough detail to get the brain working and democratically includes all from Prime Ministers to sopping wet terrified Tommy Atkins's stuck in some god-forsaken foxhole. The homefront citizen is not forgotten either.

This is one of those books that when one realises there are only 90 pages to go, a sense almost of despair sets in, as shortly it will come to an end.

Buy it, you wont be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Anti British, 10 Nov 2013
By 
N. Perry - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 (Paperback)
An enjoyable, informative and easy to read book that is ambitious in it's scope to cover the entire war in one volume, but is ultimately let down by one major flaw. The continual Brit bashing really does get somewhat tedious. Hastings seems reluctant to give any praise to the British whatsoever.
Not sure if it's his left wing leanings or a desperate need to appear un-biased, but it's also coupled with gushing praise of the USA and USSR. Particularly annoying is his insistence on referring to the Russians paying 'the butchers bill'. That's as maybe, but if your only tactic is to throw wave after wave of poorly trained, often unarmed troops at the German army, your casualty rate is going to be excessive.
That said, I have given this book 3 stars because, if you can ignore the wearisome running down of Britain at every opportunity, it is a very good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now you have an unbiased and uncensored account of the conflict that we could not be fed at the time!, 23 Oct 2013
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This review is from: All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 (Paperback)
As someone who was living just outside a Nazi target area at senior school throughout WW2 I suffered little other than a very restricted working class diet during WW2, but was old enough to remember the fear of invasion in 1940 and the somewhat pathetic preparations that were made. Like everyone else I rejoiced in the positive outcome from what is now referred to as the 'Battle of Britain'.
The reality of our position then is revealed by Max Hastings book - yes not something that is new - but presented in a form that is digestible by anyone with reasonable mental stamina. It is a monumental work - although I do realise that it draws extensively on alot of material on other works by the same author.
It leaves me with an appreciation of tha true scale of the potential threat that we faced in 1940, our great good fortune that Hitler turned Eastwards, and the monumental contribution to the defeat of Nazism by the Russians and the Americans too. It also makes me more than ever in awe of the bravery and devotion to duty of our armed forces and those of our Allies.
In present day terms - although this is outside the scope - the scale of our current National significance in conventional armed conflict terms (i.e nuclear weapons apart) is laid bare for all to see.
Since the Japanese conflict was so predominantly an American affair it was difficult for the British public to appreciate what was going on there. But this book shows how that conflict was so often balanced on a knife edge and the tremendous significance of America's industrial effort as well as that of her armed forces. For me that was a real 'eye opener'.
Why then only 4 stars you may ask - the answer is that the text references to places in Russia (and on occasions elsewhere too)
were of little avail unless they appeared on the otherwise excellent maps provided.
But overall I believe that this conveniently sized book should make compelling reading for those who lived through WW2 and that younger people should have at least an understanding of a reality of this conflict to enable them to appreciate how it changed modern history so profoundly and just how lucky Britain was to escape the terror of occupation by a tyranical regime.
At the offered softback price it is a fantstic bargain which should not be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good that Mr H is looking at a different war, 19 Mar 2013
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What to say about this offering from Mr Hastings.

A weighty tome this purports to be a full history of the experience of WW2 (this was my first kindle download as it was just too heavy to commute with!).

In his preface the author mentions that he will not plagiarise his own work and write about issues he has covered in depth elswhere. All vary proper from this scrupulous author. I have read most of his works on the period: Bomber Command, Das Reich, Overlord (a better book than Beavors D-Day I think), and his works on Germany and Japan in 1944/45.

By leaving these items out of this book it seems unbalanced somehow, and he does not cover off these key areas in other than cursory detail. Some of his books listed above were issued sometime ago so I would have thought the author would have had something fresh to say about these events.

I understand his next book will cover 1914 a period I don't think he has touched in detail before. It will be good to see him attacking new territory rather than raking over the same old same old.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blowing..., 3 Aug 2012
This review is from: All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 (Paperback)
This book is an exceptional piece of work that had me wondering about humanity; brought me close to tears and opened my eyes to what actually happened in the war. It dispells the myth of good versus evil and lays out the millions of deaths and limitless cruelty in all its bear ugliness and does not spare the allies either.

I am a well-educated thirty something with a background in the military and this has completely changed my romanitcised version of the war which I have accrued through countless films and our own national myth.

This is one of those books that comes along every few years and changes your views on history and the world.

Well done Max!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good But..., 26 July 2012
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I enjoyed reading this book when it came out in hardback and I certainly learnt many things about the war that I was unaware of.

I suspect that like most of my generation, we were spoonfed the idea that the most importannt areas of the conflict centred around Western Europe, D-Day etc. Hastings certainly opened my eyes regarding the importance of Russia in the war.

I did find the book hard work in places even though I finished it. I put this down to the sheer breadth of the subject. However having more recently bought Anthony Beevor's 'The Second World War' I must say that the latter makes a far more riveting read and would be my first choice on the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All hell let loose, 16 May 2012
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This review is from: All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 (Paperback)
If the 2nd world war is of interest this is a very interesting read. Plenty of facts and photos.
Max Hastings at is best
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The worst of times revisited, 11 Mar 2012
By 
Aidan J. McQuade (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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With this book, Max Hastings has completed a body of work on the Second World War comparable to Shelby Foote's magisterial history of the American Civil War. This book fills some of the gaps in the history of the war not covered by his more detailed studies (Overlord on the battle for Normandy; Armageddon on the last year of the war in Europe; Nemesis on the last year of the war in the Pacific; Warlord, his study of Churchill's war leadership; and Bomber Command). So there is greater consideration here of, for example, the invasion of Poland, the war in the Mediterranian, the major naval campaigns such as the Battle of the Atlantic and the Artic Convoys, and amongst the most chilling chapters, a discussion on the war in the Balkans. Naturally, however the discussion of the war's final campaigns are more cursory here given Hasting's other writings.

One of the things about Hastings work that is so delightful is that even if one is familiar with much of the narrative of the events he will often bring new detail or insight to the discussion. This book does not disappoint in this regard: the retreat from Stalingrad, for example, is told principally from an Italian perspective; and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is discussed through the idea of "technological determinism" which Hastings sees as shaping key aspects of the Allied campaign, particularly the B29 bomber offensive on Japan. By this he means that when a military capacity exists there can become an overwhelming motivation to use it irrespective of the strategic value: it is an idea that also helps illuminates the dynamics behind some questionable dashes into war, such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Overall the work is pervaded with a great sense of humanity and of the pity of war. There is also a great fairmindedness to Hastings writing, acknowledging, given the comparable horror of both Soviet and Nazi tyrannies, that for many eastern Europeans the war never could appear the clear cut battle between good and evil it has become in Anglo-American mythology. Hastings also points out how that Anglo-American myth must take some tarnishing given Britian's role in the Indian wartime famine, the Anglo-American betrayal of Poland, and some of the needless blood shed by the Allies in the Pacific.

Overall a great work of narrative history, elegantly written with a seeming effortlessness that belies the great learning it contains.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing single volume on the second world war, 21 Jan 2012
For a while now I've been averaging about one book every ten days, yet here we are three weeks into January and I've only just finished my first book of 2012. The reason for that is that Max Hasting's monumental volume on the second world war, All Hell Let Loose, is 748 pages long so it's like reading three books!

The volume of literature on the last great war is immense, the bibliography to this book is enormous and so it's hard to say where this single volume work ranks. I also haven't read many other books so have little to compare it with, but I'm not sure I need to read another.

This book manages something remarkable, it conveys the great sweep of the war, the many differing timelines and events and yet manages to convey what the war was like. This is because the perspective is not that of a Churchill or a Roosevelt, for they are minor characters but having drawn from a myraid of letters, diaries and reports shares what war was like for those most affected by it, mothers, soldiers, sons.

The second world war really was global and immense, the numbers are staggering and hard to comprehend and this book both shattered illusions and educated. I learnt of the 15 million Chinese who died and the Bengal famine which saw nearly two million Indians starve, I learnt that the British army rarely if ever crowned itself in glory and learned how the great powers utterly shafted, screwed and ignored the nation of Poland from first to last.

That more Russians soldiers were shot by the Russians than British soldiers were sot by the Germans, that more Russians (civilians and soldiers) died at the battle of Leninggrad than the Americans and British armies combined for the whole war. The numbers are staggering, nearly 60 million people were killed in just six years.

No nation covers itself in glory during war, combatants and neutrals alike. Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden can hardly be proud of their neutrality. France has much to be ashamed of, and there were enough incidents for to prevent Britain and America from too much hubris. America became a great power as a result of this war, the only nation to emerge vastly richer and more powerful while all it's rivals lay exhausted and in ruins.

Of the three great powers, Britain stood up to the war when all others didn't. France defeated, America abstained and Russia was an ally to Hitler. Britain really did stand very much alone but too weak to win the war on its own. America paid for the victory. It's vast industrial might provided for all and proved far too much for anyone else to emerge victorious. Russian on the other hand clearly died for the war. 25 million Russians died, starved, shot, raped and ruined. No country was as willing to sacrifice it's millions more than Stalin and had they not, Hitler would have taken a lot longer to defeat.

Yet all these facts stand alongside countless story of death, rape, mutilation, despair. The sufferings of the Yugoslavs, Poles, Italians, Chinese, Burmese, Malays and of course the Jews throughout mainland Europe and ordinary people everywhere was horrific and shocking and it is these stories that make this book such a masterpiece.

This is quite a phenomenal book and I'm sure, no matter what I read, it will rank near the top of my reading list come December 2012. That's a slightly depressing to think I may have already read the best book of the year but at the same time, what a book!
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All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945
All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 by Max Hastings (Paperback - 26 April 2012)
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