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World War II

A Very Short Introduction
Narrated by: Johnny Heller
Length: 3 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The enormous loss of life and physical destruction caused by the First World War led people to hope that there would never be another such catastrophe. How then did it come to be that there was a Second World War that caused twice as much loss of life and more destruction than any other previous conflict?   

In this Very Short Introduction, Gerhard L. Weinberg provides an introduction to the origins, course, and impact of the war on those who fought and the ordinary citizens who lived through it. Starting by looking at the inter-war years and the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, he examines how the war progressed by examining a number of key events, including the war in the West in 1940, Barbarossa, the German Invasion of the Soviet Union, the expansion of Japan's war with China, developments on the home front, and the Allied victory from 1944-45. Exploring the costs and effects of the war, Weinberg concludes by considering the long-lasting mark World War II has left on society today.

©2014 Gerhard L. Weinberg (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-12-19

Overdressed... and over here

"They’re overfed, overpaid, overdressed... and over here."
- Anonymous, quoted in World War II: VSI

This is a solid, if bland, 30,000 ft summary of a large, massive, well-examined subject.

I didn't expect much beyond this. It would be difficult to do a 150 page VSI for the Battle of Stalingrad, the African Campaign, or the Battle of Okinawa. So, covering both the European and Pacific theatres, etc., creates a VSI that can't even begin to get beyond the superficial on anything. It is a book, however, that would be useful as a one-day survey of the war at the high school, or Freshman college level, BEFORE diving deeper into a granular exploration of specific aspect of the war.

By its very superficiality (which is necessary by the size of the subject) it also reminded me to be wary of all VSIs (and historical summaries). While WWII is an historical subject where an amateur historian can feel comfortable feeling she knows the general territory enough to perhaps not need a VSI (thus both appreciate it and desparage it at the same time), other subjects covered by VSI aren't necessarily as well-traveled, or understood, so must also come with a higher degree of, what? Skepticism?

Anyway, Weinberg covered a difficult subject well. He didn't blow himself up anywhere. That I, an amateur, could see.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful