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History of the Second World War Hardcover – 1 Apr 1971

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bookthrift Co; 1st Ed.(U.S.) edition (April 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399104143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399104145
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,317,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The best book of its kind.[It is] a crisp professional critique of the strategic concepts and tactical methods of all the contending forces. Liddell Hart writes with no national bias, and is as critical of British -- and Allied -- performance as of the enemy's".-- The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Sir Basil Liddell Hart was a military strategist and writer of great acclaim, and one of the world's outstanding teacher-historians. Born in Paris in 1895, he was educated at Cambridge before serving on the Western Front with the Yorkshire Light Infantry after which he was military correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and The Times. He evolved several military tactical developments including the Battle Drill system and was an early advocate of airpower and armoured forces. He lectured on strategy and tactics at staff colleges in numerous countries. His many books include biographies of several great commanders, and The Other Side of the Hill - his interview with World War II's highest-ranking German generals. His two great studies of World War I and World War II were published in 1930 and 1970 respectively, the latter in the year of his death. He was knighted in 1966. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's probably a super book BUT I actually received a different one, where Liddell Hart was simply some kind of Series Editor, and 90% of the material was authored by other people. Having said that, it was a pretty good thing to have anyway. I may have another attempt to get the Liddell Hart book shortly, when I feel lucky . . .
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Detailed description of the european war by an active participant. Reccomended with the The Second World War for the big picture, All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 for the narration from the civilian and soldiers and Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II for the aftermath.

Why three stars? After reading the book you will believe that the north of Africa was more important than the Eastern Front. Actually, during two years, the soviets were the only fighting in Europe, and Sir Lidell, as many europeans or american historians write more pages about Montgomery or Patton than Zhukov, Chiukov or Rokossovsky. More pages about Normandy than Bagration. BUT is a good book, detailed and clear.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: 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.
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