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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Review: The Second World War

Title: The Second World War
Author: Antony Beevor
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: Over the past two decades, Antony Beevor has established himself as one of the world's premier historians of WWII. His multi-award winning books have included Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945. Now, in his newest and most ambitious book, he turns his focus to one of the bloodiest and most tragic events of the twentieth century, the Second World War.

In this searing narrative that takes us from Hitler's invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939 to V-J day on August 14th, 1945 and the war's aftermath, Beevor describes the conflict and its global reach--one that included every major power. The result is a dramatic and breathtaking single-volume history that provides a remarkably intimate account of the war that, more than any other, still commands attention and an audience.

Thrillingly written and brilliantly researched, Beevor's grand and provocative account is destined to become the definitive work on this complex, tragic, and endlessly fascinating period in world history, and confirms once more that he is a military historian of the first rank.

Review: I have always been fascinated with any and all things to do with World War II. From the rise of Hitler, to the bombing of Hiroshima, this is perhaps the richest time in the history of the world. Due to the staggering scale of this time period, most books, both fiction and nonfiction, choose to focus on specific events or characters. In this hugely ambitious work, Antony Beevor attempts to provide a narrative overview of the entire war.

In the book, Beevor effectively introduces the early onsets of the war for each nation that was involved. Spanning from the German invasion of Poland in 1939 to the end of the war in 45, Beevor manages to provide a research filled account without ever straying from his strong narrative flow. He finds a convincing balance between broad tellings of significant battles, military strategy, and intimate insights into the main personalities of the war.

At nearly 900 pages, this book is no small undertaking. I'll admit, I read bits of the volume between other novels over the course of three months. Despite the length, I felt like Beevor never sacrificed the telling of the story in favor of dry facts, so the book maintained a consistency that easily places it above other historical works. Overall, WWII enthusiasts, history buffs, and any lover of large-scale stories are sure to enjoy this book.
-Ethan

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