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Customer Review

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 June 2012
Beevor had already made his reputation as a leading historian with his books on Berlin, Stalingrad, Crete and Paris;this book enhances his reputation.
In terms of the number killed as a proportion of the population the second world war was not the most bloody, the Thirty Years War, for example, was far worse.
Nevertheless, 70m dead make it the deadliest war ever to date. Only a nuclear war is ever likely to cause more death and destruction. It is worth remembering that some 60m of the dead were civilians.
China lost around 15m, the Soviet Union 27m, and Germany lost 31% of her army.The Jews, we must never forget, lost a minimum of 7m in the ovens of German camps.
It has been estimated that approximately 28-30000 people were killed every day between 1940 and 1945.
A recent book by Max Hastings: 'All Hell Let Loose', brilliantly dissected the war exposing the good and the bad deeds of all the combatants. It is a tour de force as were his earlier books 'Nemesis' and 'Armageddon'. Beevor's book is not based on anything like the number of primary sources as Hastings' work. It is in many ways a good old fashioned military history book, and none the worse for that. Beevor is right to give space to China and her savage war against the barbaric Japanese although he is not the first to do so. His denunciation of the strategic bombing campaign is weak and misplaced. One wonders if he is aware of recent research on this issue.
Beevor's descriptions of the horrors on the Eastern front are, of course, familiar to readers of his earlier works.
Both Hastings' and Beevor's books should be required reading by all interested in the second world war. Different in many ways they provide a useful balanced approach to the conflict. For example,Hastings outguns him with ease when writing about operations in the Pacific. On the other hand, Beevor has a better grasp of the major land battles. This reviewer finds Hastings' (a superb journalist) style much easier and satisfying to get to grips with. It is regrettable that a number of British academic historians look down their noses at the mention of any work by Hastings simply because he is a trained journalist. If only these same people could one day write history that is capable of being understood.
We need both Hastings and Beevor to enlighten us about the past.
This is not Beevor's best book by a long way but it is still superb.
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