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A WORLD AT ARMS by Gerhard L. Weinberg

A WORLD AT ARMS

A Global History of World War II

By Gerhard L. Weinberg

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-521-44317-2
Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

 At once accessible, concise, and comprehensive: a masterful overview of WW II. Drawing on previously unavailable archives as well as standard sources, historian Weinberg (Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany, etc.; Univ. of North Carolina) begins his chronicle of the great conflict with an analysis of the post-WW I events that led to a second world war. Getting down to business, he documents the fundamentally different intentions of latter-day belligerents like the Axis partners, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan, whose objectives encompassed a total reordering of territory, resources, and populations, while by contrast their WW I counterparts had fought mainly to preserve traditional balances of power. In pursuing his enormous theme, the author focuses on the strategic why rather than the tactical how of major clashes, leaving the details of such landmark engagements as the Battle of Britain to others with less lofty ambitions. This isn't to say that Weinberg shortchanges his readers in any substantive way. In addition to assessing the global implications of big-picture campaigns, for example, he offers short-take perspectives on action in hitherto neglected theaters. Cases in point range from the Allied seizure (from the Vichy French) of Madagascar on to so-called sideshows in Burma, Eastern Africa, and Iraq. Covered as well are the roles played by intelligence operatives, diplomats, Wehrmacht bureaucrats responsible for the Holocaust, civilians in scores of countries, and scientists recruited to develop the atomic bombs that helped hasten V-J Day. Weinberg's chronological narrative occasionally verges on the kaleidoscopic, but, this cavil apart, the author offers an authoritative survey of a huge conflict that, he suggests in an affecting afterword, might just have saved a weary world from even more destructive hostilities. The text has over 20 helpful maps. (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for March; Main Selection of the History Book Club)