This book is suitable to readers who just want a broad panoramic look at the conflict rather than a comprehensive examination of all facets of the conflict. Those who are reasonably widely read on the subject will know most of what is covered here as it focuses on the big picture, but A.J.P. Taylor is such a good writer that the work is a pleasure to read in any case. It is the kind of chronological overview I would have liked to have read when I was young and just getting interested in military history.
World War 2 is the defining event of the modern era and as such has been subject to mountains of studies examining it either in whole or in part. There are areas that I would quibble with, he is perhaps a little too sympathetic to the behaviour of the Soviet Union for example, but these sort of complaints are inevitable and should certainly not put anyone off.
I first read this book as a teenager. Twenty five years on I still think it is excellent. Taylor's writing is wonderfully readable and the book provides a good overview of the war - though not a detailed account. It is a fairly thin book and the author isn't much interested in describing battles, but he does provide fascinating analysis of the politics of war: why Hitler invaded Russia but not Britain; why Britain was so incompetent in the Mediterranean and Far East; how the US was actively involved in the Battle of the Atlantic well before any formal declaration of war; how the Japanese stumbled into the war; how the invasion of Italy was more to be seen to be doing something than for any great strategic reasons. For highlight strategic issues like these Taylor deserves praise, for these are the issues from which we can learn. Perhaps thinking has moved on in some respects, but if you need a great overview of the strategic and political factors that decided how the war would be fought, then this is a fascinating introduction.
I had already bought his illustrated WWI in 1972 and was not aware he had similarly treated WW2. When I came across the book had to have it. It has not disappointed. It arrived promptly and was perfectly packaged. Thank you very much