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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solely Military History
First off I should say that I don't like this book. Liddell Hart is a pessimistic braggart who never stops pointing out how he would have done everything differently. That said, there is a very real possibility that he was right. Just reading the quotations he includes from his various articles written during the war, you can see that he had a very good understanding of...
Published on 3 April 2011 by Arch Stanton

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The unbalanced account of the Second World War.
Preliminary Note: This is a serious and honest review. So, if you are one of those individuals who do not acknowledge the Holocaust, please don't bother and stop reading here.

When you pick up a book dealing with the Second World War and on the index Khrushchev is lacking, Chuikov appears only once, but Rommel fills three times the space of Roosevelt, four...
Published 10 months ago by marginal


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solely Military History, 3 April 2011
By 
Arch Stanton (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
First off I should say that I don't like this book. Liddell Hart is a pessimistic braggart who never stops pointing out how he would have done everything differently. That said, there is a very real possibility that he was right. Just reading the quotations he includes from his various articles written during the war, you can see that he had a very good understanding of how to fight modern wars. I don't doubt that he is avoiding the articles where he was wrong, but that he is right so many times is spooky. Whatever else can be said about him he was certainly smart. It is also pretty clear why nobody listened to him. Apparently, at one point in the war Winston Churchill even tried to put him under arrest. It also seems that he was intentionally deceptive about the origins of blitzkrieg. He claims to have invented the principle himself which is at best willful misinterpretation of the facts.

Now on to the good points (and there are many). The book is about as thoroughly researched as it is possible to be. Liddell Hart interviewed many of the participants himself which is something that you don't find in many history books. His understanding of tactics and strategy is exceptional and rarely implausible. The writing style is competent, direct, and to the point. He has barely an unnecessary word in the entire book.

Now for more bad points. The book is ENTIRELY a Military History. Any politics or personalities are mentioned in passing if at all. The few interpretations of his that I strongly disagreed with were in his interpretation of politics. He views it from very much a military point of view as a battle to win as much power and security as possible. Any other factors such as principles or popular opinion are ignored or ridiculed. Fortunately there is not much time spent on politics, but there is enough that anyone who starts off with only this book is likely to be confused. For example, from a purely military point of view Hitler comes off as a good leader until he invades Russia. No mention is made of his many atrocities or his genocidal policies. For what it is, it serves as an excellent look at the war as a whole. Going in expecting that and you won't be disappointed. Look for anything else and you will be. If you're looking for a history of the war in all its aspects then a better book would be Martin Gilbert's The Second World War: A Complete History or John Keegan's The Second World War. They might not be quite as brilliant as Hart in military matters but they are better writers and are able to include more than just the bare military facts. And since they were written more recently they are able to draw on and include any of Hart's interpretations that they see as relevant. This book is useful as a reference but I can't really recommend reading it unless you're using it as a source.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big book, big subject, big read, big distinction to be made, 23 Nov. 2005
Due to the attributed authoritativeness of author Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart a presumably simple question needs to be asked and answered from the outset: Does this history of the Second World War give an exact account of the global war between the Axis Powers and The Allies from 1939 to 1945?
The answer is very emphatically yes, but a distinction must be made. This book took me two months to read, taking into account its length (700 pages) this was not especially poor for a general history reader. But I believe the reason behind the prolongued read is precisely because it is not an account for general readership but for the reader of military history. It is, in short, a military and strategist's view of the Second World War. An important categorization that I hope informs potential buyers.
This does not mean however that its worth is negated for the general reader. Liddell Hart's history is as thorough and epic in scale as the war itself An experienced military strategist who bore witness to its prosecution, he held unique and valuable insight. Of particular value is the inclusion of German accounts of the war from interrogations and interviews made by Liddell Hart himself.
Great eruditeness is also shown in describing the varying campaigns, invasions, battlefields, and military plans from all sides. The sheer detail he offers is immense and because of this nothing is gleaned over, which I felt was of considerable use in gathering a full account of the actual fighting. In addition, something of the art, if not essentially chaotic nature of the war and indeed warfare as a whole is infused into the reader's mind.
Yet, all this could have been achieved with much greater effect and with less long-winded and relentless detail if it had contained more frequent accounts from the protagonists involved. Indeed if the participants in the theatre of operations were taken account of at all, this history would have added a worthwhile human dimension above the confusing tactical and strategic aspects which tended to dominate the retelling. But as I've already stated, this is a military and strategists' history
If it had, this account would surely have become an unsurpassable tome leaving fellow historians of WWII to fight it out for the scraps of academic esoteric obscurity that is Hitler's dietary needs.
Yet despite my craving for some sort of personal narrative, which is probably unfair in view of Liddell Hart's obvious interest and authority on strategic and military matters, this book did provide me with the knowledge of the Second World War that I had sought from the outset. It is so thoroughly detailed that it covered all of the theatres of war with particular emphasis on the campaigns in North Africa, Italy and the Battle of Britain/Atlantic.
Readers from the United States may be disappointed however at the focus of the war upon British and Soviet battles in contrast to their own vital contribution to the Allied victory, namely in the Pacific Ocean, which I might point out in mitigation was one of the strongest sections imparted. But I consider that Liddell Hart has emphasized overall fairness, the Allies together defeated the Axis powers, it was not one partner exclusively, although the Soviet Union's all-important recoiling of Hitler's invasion has been given deserved focus in the book.
I would also put forward certain caution if any readers approached this conflict without any prior knowledge of its main events, you will undoubtedly lose track of any timeline, as I occasionally did. The narrative swerves from North Africa to the Russian Steppes and the Burma jungle, with no clear indication of its importance in relation to other theatres of the war.
My judgement upon this book ultimately has to be that of conflicting middle ground however. As an account of any war it has to be regarded as a classic. As a military history of the Second World War I doubt whether the understanding of Liddell Hart or his analytical brilliance shall be surpassed, and as an historian of the Twentieth Century he is rightly regarded as amongst its most esteemed.
This book however does not fully meet the requirements of modern and younger readers like myself to understand the Second World War beyond the concept of armies, war production figures and "losses". It rarely goes beyond a history of the conflict that is simply one of strategic/military problem and solution. Indeed, it neglects to emphasize at all that the war involved massive human taking up of arms with the expected consequences. A history of war without human context bears no resemblance to the actual war itself and thus I believe this book is not as authoritative as it once seemed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The unbalanced account of the Second World War., 4 May 2014
This review is from: A History of the Second World War (Paperback)
Preliminary Note: This is a serious and honest review. So, if you are one of those individuals who do not acknowledge the Holocaust, please don't bother and stop reading here.

When you pick up a book dealing with the Second World War and on the index Khrushchev is lacking, Chuikov appears only once, but Rommel fills three times the space of Roosevelt, four times that of Stalin and ten times that of Zhukov, you know this is going to be a very particular reading. And so it was.

To make a very long story short, there is no doubt that Liddell Hart is absolutely sublime in the way he writes the history of this war, with amazing detail and insight, always very clear and wise in his judgments. In spite of plenty considerations concerning politics and grand strategy, this is mainly a tactics/strategy focused history which could feel sometimes too overwhelming for those more interested in a more fluid and global picture of the events. On the other hand, the military `fanatic' will surely be provided with many hours of delightful reading.

Who am I to argue with a master of the military? A nobody, really. But in any case, if I'm allowed to express my opinion, I would like to say that, in a book dedicated to the Second World War, giving much more relevance to the North African campaign than to the Russian one is difficult to comprehend. In this respect, I would have liked at least to have seen the same level of information, detail and engagement being given to the Eastern Front. One could almost say it's a moral issue. But this I can excuse. Liddell Hart is British and the North African campaign had a special significance to the UK. And he adored Rommel.

What I cannot excuse is no mention whatsoever about the Holocaust and all the genocidal massacres committed by the German `Einsatztruppen SS' in the East. Not once in the book is the word Jew mentioned. Not once. One could argue that this was a side effect of the war and not the central theme. But it was the war in the first place that provided the tools for all those atrocities to be committed in grand scale, everything backed up indirectly (and sometimes directly) by the `Wehrmacht'. The Second World War cannot simply be disassociated from it, and I find it truly immoral to ignore this topic in the book, which had everything to gain with its inclusion.

This is why I cannot rate this book with more than 3 stars. A pity really, because it deserved more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anybody interested in WW2, 29 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
Great book. It tells where individual units (divisions and above) ware during each battle/campaign. Very objective style, one some might describe as dry but I find very apealing. If you can combine this book with Hart's Other side of the hill and WW2 will be more clear. The only thing one might hold against it are small number of maps but important battles are described with maps but keeping map of Europe/Pacific near you will make things easier.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books ever, 4 Dec. 2007
By 
Luis Miguel Vale (Porto, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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I've got 300+ books on the subject and this is one of the few that i've read more than 2 times. Actually i can say that i've certainly read this book more than thirty times, excluding that reading from a one chapter.
I think this is one of the greatest books on the subject. Well written, it gives you the all picture of the second world war. Everybody keen on this matter should buy one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars handle with care, 24 Jun. 2010
By 
gille liath (US of K) - See all my reviews
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The attraction of this is that Liddell Hart was a leading strategic thinker between the wars: he invented the tactics that became known as Blitzkrieg. But he was sidelined, the British military didn't pursue his ideas but the Germans did. So, perhaps inevitably, there's a thread of 'I told you so' running through it. He has a tendency to reductive explanations based on tactics and the technology associated with them. Thus, unsurprisingly, Germany's victory in France is attributed to Blitzkrieg, particularly the fact that 'the Allied leaders had not grasped this new technique'; their failure in Russia, on the other hand, was because they failed to apply it thoroughly enough. Possibly true, but the reader needs to be aware of LH's own vested interest in these conclusions.

And, from a man who never exceeded the rank of captain, there is obvious personal bitterness in the remark: 'Hitler well understood the effect of promotion in seducing men's judgement and producing compliance. Professional ambition rarely resists that form of temptation.' The prophet is never accepted in his own country...

The style is a bit odd, with lots of outlines and recapitulations; though it's a long book, arguably all you really need to read is the ten-page epilogue. The rest just sets out the same ideas at greater length. In many cases these are the fairly obvious ones encountered in many books about the war: Allied material superiority; Hitler's disastrous insistence on standing fast no matter what; the counter-productive demand for unconditional surrender.

Not quite the dazzling insights I was hoping for, then; but a good strategic overview, especially if you have not already read extensively about the conflict.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short review, 20 Feb. 2011
By 
Adrian "Classic detectives and history are mo... (Clophill, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This is Captain Liddel Harts opus. It is written from a Britsh point of view so doesn't cover the war in the Pacific in great detail. Read this first when I was one of "Maggies Millions" and could not put down. I'm into tank history so the Soviet battles are covered well. A very good general history in one volume. If you are after a purely military history of WW2 from a British view then I would recommend this book, if your looking for any other perspective then this book is not for you.
In general quite an easy read though some of the desert war in North Africa is repetitive. Would like more on the Chindits and the Pacific theatre in general. Massive detail of the Eastern front and intricate description of huge tank battles. Would like a few more maps to follow the progress of the armies with ease.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than I expected, 9 Sept. 2010
This book was very comprehensive and very detailed. I learned a great deal about the campaigns of the second world war and I would urge any student of the conflict to read it too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable job of an ingenious historian in a relatively ..., 23 Oct. 2014
By 
P. Baziotopoulos (Greece...) - See all my reviews
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A remarkable job of an ingenious historian in a relatively short space...
Absolute must for any ne interesting in the event of WWII
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 July 2014
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This review is from: A History of the Second World War (Paperback)
Just amazing
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A History of the Second World War
A History of the Second World War by B. H. Liddell Hart (Paperback - 19 Aug. 2011)
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