5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Revelatory Analysis of Britain's War,
This review is from: Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War (Paperback)
Although this book is 300 pages long with 100 pages of notes ,it could have been longer and have explained its thesis at greater length with greater coherence. That said, this is an important book which tackles three disparate issues. This is that essentially that Britain was still a great power and could win the second world war by using its economic power. Three points stand out.
Firstly, there is the question of grand strategy. Britain had great economic strength and after the debacle that resulted in the retreat from Dunkirk, it fell back on this traditional way of war. It called in its international credits and favours and prepared for what was looking like a long war. It is no surprise that Chuchill referred to Napoleon in his Dunkirk speech, that was the war Britain could wage and win. The author points out that Britain was strong enough and confident enough to wage such a war even after (or especially after) some 250,000 of its troops had been rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. It was however necessary to have some belligerence and this was where the campaigns in the desert came from. The real blow to this strategy was events in the Far East which removed some of resources from the Empire. It was not necessary for the USA to become a fellow belligerent though this was planned for and helped to shorten the war but Britain would have won at some point nonetheless.
Secondly, there is an account of Britain's scientific and economic war which looks at some of the
issues in some detail. So we look at the Dambusters, bombing, mulberry harbours etc as well as the factory building programme.
Thirdly, there is a look at the historiography of the war which has some surprises. As with Beevor's DDay it is interesting to note how strong Britain in fact was at most times during the war.
These three elements are condensed into what can be fairly tough reading. Undoubtedly, this is one of the books on the Second World War which will be cited and argued about for some time to come. You should get the paperback edition as several minor errors have been corrected.