WHY THE ALLIES WON by Richard Overy


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 Was the Allied victory in WW II an inevitable triumph of good over evil? No, says Overy (History/King's College, London; The Air War: 19391945, 1981, etc.), in this incisive analysis of the factors that led to victory over Germany, Italy, and Japan. In early 1942, Overy points out, the Axis powers were triumphant in every world theater. Japan had, in a single blow, crippled Allied fleets, had conquered all the Pacific islands within a 1,000-mile perimeter, and was threatening an apparently defenseless Australia. Germany had conquered much of Europe and had inflicted devastating, losses on the Soviet Union. Britain was prostrate, its lifelines threatened by relentless U-boat attacks. The US had yet to mount an armament program, and the Soviet Union seemed industrially exhausted. Yet by 1944 Allied victory was simply a matter of time. Overy explains this remarkable reversal of fortune by reviewing Allied success in each of four zones: the sea war, in which the Allies capitalized on vast US and British fleets, shrewd use of airplanes at sea, and superior intelligence; the Soviet victory on the Eastern front, where Hitler underestimated both the fighting spirit and the renewed production potential of the Soviets; the air war, in which Allied long-range bombing forced the Germans to fight the last two years of the war without air support; and the reconquest of Europe after the D-Day invasion, which sealed Hitler's fate. Overy also analyzes the superior control of resources by the Allies, the combat effectiveness of Allied and Axis troops, the leadership of the two sides, and the moral contrasts between them. He concludes that ``the Allies won . . . because they turned their economic strength into effective fighting power, and turned the moral energies of their people into an effective will to win.'' A cogent look at the 20th century's great turning point. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection; History Book Club main selection)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-393-03925-0
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996


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