Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Definitive. Read it and be informed.
on 6 February 2016
I'm not going to write a lot here. For a more in depth review, read Wellread's. Says it all really. I'm just going to make some pertinent bullet points.
Hastings, in writing this book has gone to great lengths to not only gather information for this book, but to give it the correct gravitas and interpretation. Despite being British, he is careful to praise and criticise actions in this last year of the war arbitrarily and fairly.
Some reviewers criticise his anecdotal approach, saying that that is not a good method on which to reach conclusions. However, in most cases, Hastings makes his case with the available information and statistics where available and then illustrates those conclusions. This makes the book more readable and certainly impresses on the mind the story he is portraying.
Hastings is able in this book to press forward his own viewpoints on the subject in question very well, often without alerting the reader that is what is happening. However, his views are, in general, ones to which the vast majority would subscribe.
Another criticism levelled is that much of this book is not new. Many of the facts are a matter of public record and often the views of people quoted have been published elsewhere. Hastings doesn't seem to deny this. As with any history of such events, this is always going to be the case. In some ways, Hastings is simply putting the fractured information in one place.
It's a good book. It's readable, something you can't always say about this type of thing. For someone who knows little about the subject matter, it's ideal. One thing Hastings does successfully is to impress the awful death, destruction, despair and destitution that war brings, giving many stories of loss, death and utter devastation. Hopefully this will be a lasting monument not only to those who took part, but to the awfulness of war and the need to avoid it in the future wherever possible. A lesson that not all mankind has learnt, although the seventy years since this war has finished has not, thankfully seen anything on the same scale. So some reason to be optimistic, perhaps.