The Storm of War

The Storm of War

A New History of the Second World War

Book - 2009
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On 2 August 1944, in the wake of the complete destruction of the German Army Group Centre in Belorussia, Winston Churchill mocked Adolf Hitler in the House of Commons by the rank he had reached in the First World War. 'Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Herr Hitler, of Corporal Hitler,' Churchill jibed. 'Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in his actions.'

Why did the Axis lose the Second World War? Andrew Roberts's previous book Masters and Commanders studied the creation of Allied grand strategy; the central theme of The Storm of War is how Axis strategy evolved. Examining the Second World War on every front, Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, the Axis might even have won. Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once they could criticism him with impunity?

In researching this uniquely vivid history, Roberts has walked many of the key battlefield and wartime sites of Russia, France, Italy, Germany and the Far East. The book also employs a number of important yet hitherto unpublished documents, such as the letter from Hitler's director of military operations explaining what the Führer was hoping for when he gave the order to halt the Panzers outside Dunkirk. It is full of illuminating sidelights on the principal actors on both sides that bring their characters and the ways in which they reached decisions into fresh focus, and it presents the tales of many little-known individuals whose experiences make up the panoply of extraordinary courage, self-sacrifice but also terrible depravity and cruelty that was the Second World War.

That war lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion and claimed the lives of over 50 million people. Why did it take the course that it did? The Storm of War gives a succinct but dramatic account of the struggle that engulfed the world between 1939 and 1945 and, at the last, a convincing answer to that question.

'The best one-volume history of the Second World War ever written by 'Britain's finest contemporary military historian' - Economist

'... a social animal of epic proportions, he is also one of the greatest historians of our time and his new book on the Second World War may prove to be his masterpiece' The Observer

Publisher: London : Penguin Books, 2009.
ISBN: 9780713999709
Branch Call Number: 940.54 Rob 9254mm 1
940.54 Rob 9254tc 1
Characteristics: lvi, 711 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.


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Jun 04, 2018

Intelligent, readable, detailed and (dare I say it?) thought provoking. It may be excessive praise to compare ‘Storm’ to Rick Atkinson’s work, but those who are familiar with Atkinson will probably be interested in this. It comes off as pretty reliable throughout, but I felt ‘Conclusions’ was unworthy in that Roberts did not make a serious effort to identify the causes of the conflict beyond discussing Hitler’s role. As a prophet of evil and the worst of a bad lot, Hitler deserves particular study. But Nazism was still the collective work of a nation, and only one example of an illness that infects societies here and there. You’d think Roberts would have considered Germany’s Eastern ally; an empire built on fanaticism, surprise attack, slave labor and other atrocities, and ultimate strategic overreach. That is to say the Axis had more in common than military alliance. ‘Storm’s’ end might be a letdown as is, but if he suggested to readers they were at risk, would it have been a best-seller?

Allied bombing of Germany has often been condemned as immoral and ineffective. Roberts argues convincingly that it was effective and vital.

One aspect of WWII that nobody discusses was The Battle of the Painters. For all his dilettantism, some of Churchill’s efforts had some artistic merit, whereas Hitler’s never had any.

Apr 16, 2015

I give this one of my highest ratings for WWII histories because the author has included many never-before-accessed records, accounts, quotes and entire passages.

The one warning: he supports Claire Chennault's "air power wins everything" view instead of Stillwell's "infantry will make final decision" choice. And the author doesn't make a solid or even consistent reasoning for this.

But his great use of 1990s and early 2000s records make this a fascinating read. It might not be The Best for a WWII introduction, by the way.

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