Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Review: The Storm of War

Summary: From "Britain's finest military historian" (The Economist) comes a magisterial new history of World War II and the flawed axis strategy that led to their defeat. 

The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people. What were the factors that affected the war's outcome? Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Andrew Roberts's acclaimed new history has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic con?ict. From the western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he tells the story of the war—the grand strategy and the individual experience, the cruelty and the heroism—as never before. 

In researching this magnificently vivid history, Roberts walked many of the key battlefields and wartime sites in Russia, France, Italy, Germany, and the Far East, and drew on a number of never-before-published documents, such as a letter from Hitler's director of military operations explaining the reasoning behind the F├╝hrer's order to halt the Panzers outside Dunkirk—a delay that enabled British forces to evacuate. Roberts illuminates the principal actors on both sides and analyzes how they reached critical decisions. He also presents the tales of many little-known individuals whose experiences form a panoply of the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice, as well as the terrible depravity and cruelty, of the Second World War.

Meticulously researched and masterfully written, The Storm of War gives a dramatic account of this momentous event and shows in remarkable detail why the war took the course it did. -- Harper

There is absolutely no way that I could ever read THE STORM OF WAR: A NEW HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Andrew Roberts. Not because I don't think it has the potential to be a very interesting book, but rather because it is absolutely huge... and very intimidating. Trust me -- This book weighs a ton and could be used as a murder weapon. And that's why I'm so grateful for my dad and his reviews! Here are his thoughts about THE STORM OF WAR:

THE STORM OF WAR by Andrew Roberts is a 6o8 page account of World War II that encompasses the war from Germany’s initial thrust into Poland in 1939 until the final surrender of Japan in 1945. A sentence in the book that best describes to me the vastness of World War II is as follows: “The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion and claimed the lives of over 50 million people.” Roberts is a military historian and appears well qualified to write this book. His research is very extensive and he actually reveals some never before released documents that shed an interesting perspective on the war.

Even though Roberts discusses in detail key battles of both the European and Pacific wars, Adolf Hitler is definitely the main character of the book. The author outlines a series of decisions by Hitler that caused him to lose the war. These included, among others: allowing the British to escape at Dunkirk, the timing and strategy of invasion of Russia, the declaration of war against the United States, the decision to exterminate the Jews and his aversion to a battle strategy that included withdrawal. Roberts gives detailed explanations as to why these decisions were instrumental in Germany’s defeat. Because of a his military blunders, Churchill often publicly ridiculed Hitler by referring to him as “Colonel Hitler”, the highest rank he achieved in the German army in World War I. Robert’s also advocates that Hitler’s ideological Nazi ideas overrode his military judgments to a fault. Roberts says Hitler lost the war simply because he was a Nazi.

Roberts thoroughly discusses the Eastern Front battles with Russia and defines them as a major turning point of the war, along with the American entry and the breaking of the German communication codes. He also gives us an insight into the brutality of the Russians under Stalin as over twenty million Russian lives were lost in the war under his leadership. He advocates that the Ukraine would have been joined forces with Germany against the hated Russians if Hitler’s ideologies would have allowed it.

Roberts outlines in great detail the role of the United States in defeating both Germany and Japan. In the author’s opinion both Axis powers underestimated the American manpower, technology and bravery. There are also some interesting insights into the personalities of the American commanders such as Eisenhower and Patton

Roberts’ chapter on the extermination of the Jewish people is a stirring account of what he titles the “Everlasting Shame of Mankind”. This chapter alone is sufficient reason to read THE STORM OF WAR. Roberts makes the argument that the Jews would have been valuable to Hitler’s war effort serving as patriotic soldiers, working as scientists and engineers and replenishing the manpower shortage Germany suffered in their factories. Jewish scientists did help to develop the atomic bomb for the United States.

Roberts does provide significant information about the Pacific war. In particular he discusses the brutality and ferociousness of the Japanese military even after it was inevitable that they would be defeated. For the Japanese surrender was a dishonorable act. He also discusses the reasoning behind the use of the atomic bomb which brought an end to the Pacific conflict.

THE STORM OF WAR offers an interesting political as well as military insight into the Second World War and outlines the factors that affected the outcome of the war. Some of the details regarding battle strategies and the numerous generals mentioned were overwhelming for me but the parts of the book that gives the reader a look at the decision making of leaders such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, Truman and Tojo are very interesting.

Anyone who has an interest in history should consider THE STORM OF WAR.

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book and to Booking Pap Pap for his insightful review.


bermudaonion said...

I always look forward to Booking Pap Pap's reviews. This book sounds fascinating, but I have a feeling it's too academic for me. I'm glad to see more is being written about Stalin's brutality. I also wonder if we're as brave as we used to be.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Oh I always love Booking PapPap review days! Great review as always!

Lena said...

Hey, a PapPap review. I truly enjoy his reviews. I think this book is a large undertaking, I can personally say, it would be highly unlikely that I would read this book. The size for one, would stop me in my tracks. But I'm not big on history books, unless it's told in a very entertaining fun fact type of way.

Anna said...

Great review! Not sure I could read this one since it's so long and detailed but it does sound fascinating. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

Aths said...

I will definitely be looking for this one. I've been looking for a full ww2 account and this one looks just perfect!