History of the Second World War Hardcover – 1 Apr 1971
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just started reading this.
Three stars as he gives a one-sided opinion of Churchill in what I have read so far. Read more
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 morePublished on 20 Feb. 2011 by Adrian
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,... Read morePublished on 4 Dec. 2007 by Luis Miguel Vale