Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another big fat World War 2 book

Jan Morris reviews the new one volume history of World War 2 in Europe by Norman Davies. It is a mixed review. She says: His twin hobby-horses are tremendous, but almost knackered: the iniquity of Stalin's Soviet Union, just as evil as Hitler's Germany, and the predominant part played by the Red Army in the Allied victory. There may be people still unaware of these fundamental truths about the Second World War, but I doubt many of them will be readers of this book.

She also says that, as in prior Davies' works, you will learn things you didn't know before, such as the fact 54 non-aggression treaties were signed during the war. I once saw Davies speak and I he was overly fond of trying to re-educate people on what really happened in the war. My favorite single volume treatment is a War to Be Won. It includes both Europe and Asia and the authors editorialize throughout. The danger is taking this much history in a single book is that the text becomes a list of facts. In this book (and to be fair I am sure Davies' shares this trait) the authors frame the factual narrative with analysis of what and who worked and what and who didn't. It makes for a much more interesting read.

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