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No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945 | [Norman Davies]

No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945

If history really belongs to the victor, what happens when there's more than one side declaring victory? That's the conundrum Norman Davies unravels in his groundbreaking book No Simple Victory. Far from being a revisionist history, No Simple Victory instead offers a clear-eyed reappraisal, untangling and setting right the disparate claims made by America, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union in order to get at the startling truth.
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Publisher's Summary

If history really belongs to the victor, what happens when there's more than one side declaring victory? That's the conundrum Norman Davies unravels in his groundbreaking book No Simple Victory. Far from being a revisionist history, No Simple Victory instead offers a clear-eyed reappraisal, untangling and setting right the disparate claims made by America, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union in order to get at the startling truth.

In detailing the clash of political philosophies that drove the war's savage engine, Davies also examines how factors as diverse as technology, economics, and morale played dynamic roles in shaping battles, along with the unsung yet vital help of Poland, Greece, and Ukraine (which suffered the highest number of casualties). And while the Allies resorted to bombing enemy civilians to sow terror, the most damning condemnation is saved for the Soviet Union, whose glossed-over war crimes against British soldiers and its own people prove that Communism and Nazism were two sides of the same brutal coin.

No Simple Victory is an unparalleled work that will fascinate not only history buffs but anyone who is interested in discovering the reality behind what Davies refers to as "the frozen perspective of the winners' history".

©2007 Norman Davies; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Enormously readable....This will explode all your ideas about the 'Good War.' " (Details)
"This is a self-consciously contrary book, cutting against the grain of much self-congratulatory Western writing since 1945." (London Sunday Telegraph)
"Davies' topical approach judiciously surveys the military, economic and political aspects of the war....His interpretations rest on solid scholarly work." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (403 )
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  •  
    Patrick Davis, CA, United States 04-10-10
    Patrick Davis, CA, United States 04-10-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Well done"

    Overall a well done book. It jumped around a bit chronologically and it did contain the aforementioned temperature errors but I did not feel that it detracted from the book. It is not a narrative of the war but gives some perspective to the significance of the roles of the various combatants and some perspective that helps balance the home country centric view that you may have learned in school.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Vestavia Hills, AL, USA 11-11-08
    John Vestavia Hills, AL, USA 11-11-08 Member Since 2003
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    "Excellent. Extremely comprehensive"

    This is the most truthful, comprehensive book on WWII I have read. It is well written and divided into thoughtfully unique sections. The narrator is excellent. If you have any interest in WWII this would be the book you should start with, read other books and then come back to this one. I was very impressed. One warning - you may not like everything you hear. It is truthful and comprehensive.

    There is some confusion on the temperatures given. It may be a conversion issue or the narrator may not have read negative numbers in every instance. I would have liked to have more information on POW camps.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arthur North Kitsap County, Washington, USA 09-21-14
    Arthur North Kitsap County, Washington, USA 09-21-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Exhaustingly detailed. Very well written"

    I thought I knew a lot about the second world war, I grew up at a time when everyone's father or grandfather had served in the conflict, but No Simple Victory made me rethink things.
    The author makes two points at the beginning of this book; one, that the history of the second world war as we know it was written at the war's end with little attention paid to recent discoveries; and two, that we should view it as a larger conflict that began in 1914 with the assassination of archduke Fredinand and ended in 1989 with the fall of the soviet union.
    He also does not pull any punches when it come to assigning blame to those that deserve it.
    I highly advise that you buy the matching Kindle book along with the Audible version (no I don't work for amazon); there is so much info (much of it new) that you will get lost without it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Los Angeles 06-29-14
    Timothy Los Angeles 06-29-14 Member Since 2010

    Geek Hippie Teacher Techie. Love history, Fantasy, classic SciFi, Science books, and short stories.

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    "A book that defeats itself"
    Any additional comments?

    There are probably a good set of sermons here, but No Simple Victory is a labor to read. More of a collection of moralizing essays than a history, the author’s main points about the suffering on the Eastern front and the lack of Allied appreciation of the evil of the Soviet Union and Stalin, gets lost in the author’s obsession for assigning guilt to the western allies for crimes they had no real knowledge of and no control over.

    The most serious problem is the author’s use of historical hindsight which he not so subtly uses to attribute knowledge of events and outcomes that the Allies simply did not possess. For example, he passes judgment on the Western bombing campaign against Germany as morally unjustified because it didn’t achieve all of the goals the Allies hoped it would. For example the Allies hoped that the bombing campaign would break the will of the German people to continue fighting. This obviously didn’t happen to the degree that the Allies hoped for, but they had no idea at the time how the bombing was effecting the German war effort.

    I couldn’t escape the feeling while I was reading, that the author’s absolutely justifiable moral outrage over what happened on the Eastern Front (and especially Poland), had simply boiled over into a rage and the author was lashing out at any and all participants in an attempt to vent his anger. The author repeatedly returns to statistics about the suffering on the Eastern Front in a macabre dialog that basically amounts to “my pain is worse than your pain”.

    Taken together, the unhistorical methods and selective remembering of events the author uses consistently combined with the accusative tone used by the author towards the reader make this a book that started with a noble purpose that degenerated into a long accusative diatribe that makes the reader want to stop reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 10-30-13
    Stephen 10-30-13
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    "Dry But Worth It."
    If you could sum up No Simple Victory in three words, what would they be?

    I didn't know!


    Would you be willing to try another book from Norman Davies? Why or why not?

    Yes - no stone left unturned in this book.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Thanks for our todays


    Any additional comments?

    If you think you know WWII listen to this and then rethink

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 07-14-13
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2012

    This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.

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    "Eyes wide open"

    No simple war is an impressive about the history of World War II which, uniquely, manages to simultaneously pay homage to the courage of the soldiers fighting on the wrong side of the moral line and document the many darker acts committed by these same soldiers.

    Although the book is rich in detail and goes through all the parties involved in the conflict, there are two special places were the study deserves special praise and goes far beyond what other books in the area have done.

    - The book takes special attention to describe the unknown German heroes of the war. These are the soldiers that won battles on two fronts, against sometimes impossible odds. Many of these soldiers had nothing to do with what was happening on the political front and were (soon enough) fighting, and dying, for Germany's survival. Few books document that well the German ordeal on the Eastern front, in particular, how this was all very different from a well-equipped and organized army.

    - Second, the book is one of the few to be honest about a fact of the war, that it was mainly fought, and won, by the Russians with the allied mostly creeping in as a sideshow. But this was not easy and while the Russians numerous, it boggles the mind to imagine how they could transform from a second-class world power to one that could push back a major industrial power. According to the narrative, this was accomplished mainly by the Russian grit never to give up and fight until death.

    No simple victory is marketed as a tale of the war atrocities committed by the victors but this is just a part of the story. More than this, the book tries to explain how we came to this by defining what "total war" really is. It is also a cautionary tale about a kind of war that might have occurred only once in the history of humanity.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    donald MIRA LOMA, CA, United States 05-12-13
    donald MIRA LOMA, CA, United States 05-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Add this to your collection, thank me later."
    Where does No Simple Victory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    somewhere between jawdropping and Oh...how 'bout that.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of No Simple Victory?

    When the good guys win.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    not sure but he is excellent


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    A normal persons brain would explode if you listened to it all at one time. Let me know when you decide your going to likely listen to it a second time.


    Any additional comments?

    history library must have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Sippel San Jose, CA United States 02-22-13
    R. Sippel San Jose, CA United States 02-22-13 Member Since 2007

    Chef

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    "No words can describe the inhumanity"

    My dad was in WW 2 and would NEVER talk about it, after listening to this book I know why. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around what took place. The numbers quoted in this book are staggering! The torture incomprehensible!
    I keep thinking about the protesters complaining about the U.S. using water boarding!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sam clementine s korea 02-16-12
    sam clementine s korea 02-16-12 Member Since 2011
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    "all encompassing fascinating details"
    What made the experience of listening to No Simple Victory the most enjoyable?

    clear animated voice


    What was one of the most memorable moments of No Simple Victory?

    the authors discussion of historiography and its western bias


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    yes i want to read all of the authors books


    Any additional comments?

    i want to meet and talk with mr davies

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John REDWOOD CITY, CA, United States 11-20-11
    John REDWOOD CITY, CA, United States 11-20-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fantastic"

    this is a very refreshing take on war in general and of course world war two specifically.

    however when during the battle of Stalingrad, "the temperature had dropped to twenty degrees Celsius" I think it's missing some minuses.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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