Kennedy (The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations, 2006, etc.) presents what he calls “a new way of treating that epic conflict,” World War II.
The author begins with the agenda and priorities of the 1943 Casablanca Conference, and his inquiry traces the interrelationships among strategic decision-making, the accomplishment of the five major tasks identified by conference attendees, and the capacities and weapons systems that made the achievement of the goals possible. The aim was to overcome obstacles to the successful invasion of Western Europe, with five ranked top priorities: winning the battle against U-boats in the North Atlantic, securing control of the airspace over Europe, developing ways to counter the Nazi blitzkrieg, learning how to coordinate landings and establish secure beachheads on enemy-held coastlines, and mastering the technology and skills required to coordinate and fight combined arms warfare over thousands of miles. Kennedy's fine-grained analysis and suspicion of any one single cause—like cipher cracking, intelligence and deception operations, or specific weapons systems, like the Soviet T-34 tank—permit him to persuasively array his supporting facts. He discusses key elements in each of the five areas and the commonalities among the different global theaters of war. The succession of accomplishments highlights the special importance of control of the air. Kennedy rebuts those who argue that the second front could have been opened in 1943, by showing what was learned from the succession of amphibious landings and their impact on the D-Day preparations and ultimate success. The author introduces many individuals whose inventions and capacities contributed profoundly.
An absorbing new approach to a well-worked field.