The Second World War (book)

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The Second World War
The Second World War (Beevor book).jpg
Author Antony Beevor
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Subject World War II
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publication date
2012
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages863
ISBN 978-0-316-02374-0

The Second World War is a narrative history of World War II by the British historian Antony Beevor. The book starts with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, [1] and covers the entire Second World War ending with the final surrender of Axis forces. [2]

Contents

Synopsis

In the introduction, Beevor discusses Yang Kyoungjong, a Korean soldier forcibly conscripted by the Kwantung Army, then in turn taken prisoner by the Red Army and the Wehrmacht, eventually being captured by American troops. He also discusses the background of the war, including the rise of Nazism in post-World War I Germany, and the formation of alliances with Italy and Japan. [3]

Throughout the bulk of the book, Beevor jumps back and forth throughout the different theaters of war. He begins by detailing Germany's invasion of Poland, Germany's alliance with the Soviet Union, and the invasion of France. [4] [5] Interspersed are chapters focusing on the Second Sino-Japanese War along with others building up a description of global events. [1] [6]

The perspective then expands to include the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of Britain, and the Balkans Campaign. [7]

Following which, there is a major shift in focus onto the Eastern Front, detailing Operation Barbarossa, the Battle of Moscow, Operation Blau, and the epic Battle of Stalingrad, a conflict which Beevor had previously written about. [8] [9] [10] [11] Simultaneously, he also depicts the events of Pearl Harbor, the ensuing events in Asia, the Pacific, North Africa, as well the Holocaust. [12] [13] [14]

As the Allies began to turn the war decisively in their favour. Alternating between the major events, Beevor details Operation Torch, American victories in the Pacific, and the Soviet counterattacks on the Eastern Front, the invasion of Sicily and Italy. [15] [16] In what Beevor terms the "Spring of Expectations", [17] the Allies launch major offensives against Axis forces on all fronts: The Soviets push westwards successfully, while the Western Allies launch Operation Overlord, and numerous defeats are inflicted upon the Japanese. [18]

As the war enters its final days, Beevor recounts the frantic race to Berlin between the Western Allies and the Soviets along with the downfall of the Nazi regime. [19] After the fall of Berlin, another topic Beevor has previously written about, Beevor turns to the dropping of the atomic bombs and the surrender of Japan. He concludes with a recount of the devastation caused by the war. [20]

Multiple important figures in the war are covered in detail, not only including the important national leaders (Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek), but also individual generals (von Manstein, Rommel, Yamamoto, Zhukov, Montgomery, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and others) and lesser-known political figures. [21]

Beevor devotes entire chapters to particularly important battles or operations, including Operation Barbarossa, the Battle of Moscow, Pearl Harbor, Operation Blau, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, and the Battle of Berlin. [22]

Reviews

As one of Beevor's culminating works, The Second World War received mostly positive reviews. The Guardian praised his account of the Eastern Front, but criticised his depiction of the Second Sino-Japanese War and its rapid pace. [23] Other reviews lauded the global scale of the book and its gripping narrative, and the attention it gives to lesser-known areas of the war. [24] [25]

Opinions

Left-right conflict

Beevor's central theme in The Second World War is the ongoing conflict between the left and the right. Nazi Germany and its allies represent the far right, while the Soviet Union and Communist China represent the far left. [25] Beevor does not take a side in this conflict; he views both sides as having committed serious war crimes against their opponents. [25] In some ways, the war transcended political and ideological boundaries, such as the Soviets' early alliance with Nazi Germany; though in other ways, ideological differences became a major motivation for the war. [25]

Communist China

Beevor takes a highly critical view of Communist China and Mao Zedong. He believes that Nationalist China, under Chiang Kai-shek, undertook most of the effort in fighting the Japanese despite being seriously undersupplied, while the Communists participated little in the fighting. Instead, their real goal was to save up their strength for the coming civil war against the Nationalists. [23] In fact, Beevor goes so far as to say that the Communists actually signed secret agreements with the Japanese to ignore each other. [23]

Views of individual generals

Beevor also disagrees with some long-held views about certain generals in the war; in particular, he writes that the reputations of Bernard Montgomery and Erwin Rommel are far overblown. [23] [25]

Related Research Articles

Battle of Stalingrad Major battle of World War II

The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia.

World War II 1939–1945 global war between the Axis and the Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, genocides including the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Vasily Zaitsev (sniper) Soviet Sniper

Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was a Soviet sniper during World War II. Prior to 10 November 1942, he killed 32 Axis soldiers with a standard-issue rifle. Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 enemy soldiers, including 11 snipers.

European theatre of World War II Huge area of heavy fighting across Europe

The European theatre of World War II was an area of heavy fighting across Europe, starting with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and ending with the United States, the United Kingdom and France conquering most of Western Europe, the Soviet Union conquering most of Eastern Europe and Germany's unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. The Allied powers fought the Axis powers on two major fronts as well as in a strategic bombing offensive and in the adjoining Mediterranean and Middle East theatre.

Eastern Front (World War II) theatre of World War II, war between Nazi Germany and the USSR 1941–1945

The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (USSR), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.

Antony Beevor English military historian

Sir Antony James Beevor, is an English military historian. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War and the 20th century in general.

Vasily Chuikov Soviet military commander

Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Soviet military officer. He was the commander of the 62nd Army which saw heavy combat during the Battle of Stalingrad. Following World War II, Chuikov was Chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (1949–53), commander of the Kiev Military District (1953–60), Chief of the Soviet Armed Forces and Deputy Minister of Defense (1960–64), and head of the Soviet Civil Defense Forces (1961–72).

Hiwi (volunteer)

Hiwi, the German abbreviation of the word Hilfswilliger or, in English, auxiliary volunteer, designated, during World War II, the member of different kinds of voluntary auxiliary forces made up of recruits indigenous to the territories of Eastern Europe occupied by Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler reluctantly agreed to allow recruitment of Soviet citizens in the Rear Areas during Operation Barbarossa. In a short period of time, many of them were moved to combat units.

Battle of Greece Invasion of Allied Greece by Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany during WWII

The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion of Allied Greece by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in April 1941 during World War II. The Italian invasion in October 1940, which is usually known as the Greco-Italian War, was followed by the German invasion in April 1941. German landings on the island of Crete came after Allied forces had been defeated in mainland Greece. These battles were part of the greater Balkan Campaign of Germany.

Case Blue German summer offensive of 1942 in southern Russia

Case Blue was the German Armed Forces' name for its plan for the 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and 24 November 1942, during World War II.

2nd Army (Wehrmacht) 1939-1945 army-level field formation of the German Army

The 2nd Army was a World War II field army.

The 4th Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War.

<i>Stalingrad</i> (book) book by Antony Beevor

Stalingrad is a narrative history written by Antony Beevor of the battle fought in and around the city of Stalingrad during World War II, as well as the events leading up to it. It was first published by Viking Press in 1998.

Georg Stumme German general

Georg Stumme was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who briefly commanded the Axis forces at the beginning of the Second Battle of El Alamein, and was killed during the battle's Defence of Outpost Snipe. He took part in the Battle of France, the invasion of Yugoslavia and the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Operation Overlord Successful invasion of Nazi-held northern Europe in World War II

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

The 11th Army was a World War II field army.

This is a timeline of events that occurred during World War II in 1943.

Soviet offensive plans controversy Theory

The Soviet offensive plans controversy is a debate among historians whether Soviet leader Joseph Stalin planned to attack Axis forces in Eastern Europe prior to Operation Barbarossa. Most historians agree that the geopolitical differences between the Soviet Union and the Axis made war inevitable, and that Stalin had made extensive preparations for war and exploited the military conflict in Europe to his advantage. Viktor Suvorov has argued that Stalin planned to attack Hitler from behind while Germany fought the Allies, and Barbarossa was a preemptive strike by Hitler. Many historians have written in response to Suvorov's views. Gabriel Gorodetsky and David Glantz authored books debunking his claims. Suvorov received some support from Valeri Danilov, Joachim Hoffmann, Mikhail Meltyukhov, and Vladimir Nevezhin

Walter Heitz German general

Walter Heitz was a German general (Generaloberst) in the Wehrmacht during World War II who served as President of the Reich Military Court and commanded part of the 6th Army in the Battle of Stalingrad.

This is a bibliographyof works on World War II.

References

  1. 1 2 Beevor pp. 52-69
  2. Beevor pp. 770-783
  3. Beevor pp. 1-10
  4. Beevor pp. 22-51
  5. Beevor pp. 79-98
  6. Beevor pp. 140-153
  7. Beevor pp. 154-173
  8. Beevor pp. 186-206
  9. Beevor pp. 230-246
  10. Beevor pp. 327-343
  11. Beevor pp. 356-373
  12. Beevor pp. 247-267
  13. Beevor pp. 268-276
  14. Beevor pp. 312-326
  15. Beevor pp. 374-486
  16. Beevor pp. 487-567
  17. Beevor pp. 567-585
  18. Beevor pp. 567-708
  19. Beevor, pp. 735-756
  20. Beevor, pp. 770-784
  21. Beevor, inside cover
  22. Beevor, table of contents
  23. 1 2 3 4 Shephard, Ben (17 June 2012). "The Second World War by Antony Beevor – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  24. Gray, John (6 June 2012). "The Second World War by Antony Beevor - review". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 Toye, Richard (September 7, 2012). "Many Wars in One". Sunday Book Review. New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2013.