An opinionated survey by a British military historian takes in all theaters of World War II, especially the war in Asia.
“New histories” of World War II continue to proliferate, as world records are thrown open and theories revised, and concise, one-volume surveys are always welcome—e.g., see Andrew Roberts’ excellent The Storm of War (2011). Similarly, Corrigan (Blood, Sweat, and Arrogance, 2006, etc.) offers a superlative big picture, setting up the far-reaching economic ramifications of the crash of the American stock market in 1929, the Russian Revolution and the rush to modernize after World War I. In particular, the author masterfully presents the military buildup in Japan, the rise of extreme nationalism, emperor worship and Japanese sense of racial superiority as factors feeding the smoldering resentment against the Western powers that unleashed itself in horrific treatment of prisoners and civilians during the war. Corrigan comes down hard on the British Army (as opposed to the Air Force and Navy), which was no match for the tenacious, wily Germans. He tidily organizes his work chronologically by alternating spheres of action. Corrigan compares the unraveling struggle to previous wars, and he is succinct and unafraid to voice strong opinions, such as that the policy of saturation bombing undertaken by the British and Americans was necessary to bring the war to an end, despite the enormous civilian casualties. He posits the Russian recovery of the Madjanek camp in Poland in July 1944 as the moment “the full beastliness of the German racial policies was exposed.”
Engaging reading down to the footnotes.