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Publisher's Summary

In this sweepingly ambitious overview of World War II, Michael Burleigh combines meticulous scholarship with a remarkable depth of knowledge and an astonishing scope. By exploring the moral sentiments of entire societies and their leaders and how such attitudes changed under the impact of total war, Burleigh presents listeners with a fresh and powerful perspective on a conflict that continues to shape world politics. Whereas previous histories of the war have tended to focus on grand strategy or major battles, Burleigh brings his painstaking scholarship and profound sensibility to bear on the factors that shaped choices that were life-and-death decisions. These choices were made in real time, without the benefit of a philosopher’s reflection, giving a moral content to the war that shaped it as decisively as any battle.

Although the Nazis and the Japanese had radically different moral universes from those of their Allied opponents, the Western Allies found themselves aligned with a no less cruel dictatorship after rejecting the option of appeasing aggression. The war was the sum of myriad choices made by governments, communities, and individuals, leading some to enthusiastically embrace evil and others to consciously reject it, with a range of more ambiguously human responses in between. Spanning both major theaters, Moral Combat sheds a revealing light on how entire nations changed under the shock of total war.

Emphasizing the role of the past in making sense of the present, Burleigh’s book offers essential insights into the choices we face today—in some circles it is always 1938 and every aggressor is a new Hitler. If we do go to war, we need to know what it will mean for the individuals who command and fight it. Original, perceptive, and astonishing in scholarship and scope, this is an unforgettable and hugely important work of Second World War history.

©2011 Michael Burleigh (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Respected British historian Burleigh delivers a long, riveting account of awful events and the perverted reasoning behind them.” (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Ed
  • New Hartford, CT, United States
  • 02-12-12

terror

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

this is a lesson that has to be learned. we must never be ignorant of the consequence of being vulnerable or the relative cheap consequence of being prepared to vanquish our enemies.if the bquestion is

What did you like best about this story?

the details make the unfathomable more fathomable,yet it still strains the immagination how humans could kill innocent men women and children and go to lunch. It also highlights the utter failure of european christianity not as failing to

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

this is a book that simply should be read by every citizen of every state who wants to protect themselves and other people from miscreants and potential miscreants ,who were in the Bloodllands and still exist in every city ,town and village.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Opus magnum

Well balanced selection of facts with the moral punch at the end. Narration consistent with the text. Would recommend to any thinking grownup...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • B Kevin
  • minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 11-15-12

A study of society under the pressure of War

Any additional comments?

While billed as an overview of WWII it focuses mainly on Europe, particularly the Nazis. There is a discussion of Japan at the end. He examines the moral attitudes of the countries involved, not just the political and military leadership, but entire societies, and how these attitudes bent and broke (on both sides) under the weight of total war.Fascinating.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

The Moral Integrity of Combatants Examined

What made the experience of listening to Moral Combat the most enjoyable?

'Enjoyable' is not the appropriate word. Yet the depth of his study is necessary for a genuine understanding of this war from its earliest stages to the end.

What did you like best about this story?

Both Britain and the United States made things worse by compromising peace with military unpreparedness. Great Britain's naval food embargo to Germany after the 1918 armistice is indefensible. The peace after 1945 was insured by the West's (Christian) capacity to 'forgive and give' through the Marshall Plan.

What about Michael Kramer’s performance did you like?

Clear, articulate and Well paced. He pronounced nearly all the foreign words correctly. He said "Lidice" in Slovenian correctly. Only mistakes in Chinese (I lived in China for eight years.). Wish more audio readers would seek out the help of native speakers.

Any additional comments?

Essential item in any World War Two bibliography.