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Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II
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Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In this sweepingly ambitious overview of WorldWar II, Michael Burleigh combines meticulousscholarship with a remarkable depth of knowledgeand an astonishing scope. By exploring themoral sentiments of entire societies and their leaders,and how such attitudes changed under the impact oftotal war, Burleigh presents readers with a fresh andpowerful perspective on a conflict th ...more
ebook, 672 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Scottnshana
I first read Burleigh when I was stationed in Turkey in 2000 and had the time to tackle his massive book on the Third Reich. I liked his approach to the subject--Nazi lawyers depriving select groups of people of their rights so that the thugs could roll in and rob the deprived of their property and lives (a.k.a., why the Bill of Rights is important). The legal and moral examination was engaging and it clarified the bureaucratic apparatus that put a professional gloss over the nastiest right-wing ...more
Mark
Concisely written overview of the moral questions that haunt wars in general & World War 2 in particular. Michael Burleigh has a tremendous command of the historical scope of the war... and it's refreshing to read history of that time written from a British perspective.

The book stutters to a close - I kept waiting for him to sum up what he'd found but he (on purpose, I think) chose not to write that kind of book... preferring instead to chronicle the choices & consequences rather than s
...more
Grant
Moral Combat begins with great promise, describing the conditions and events that combined to effect the massive moral sinking within, primarily, the axis nations of WWII. It is detailed, well-researched and complete, becoming, by the end, an uncompromising and utterly depressing accounting of the inhumanity that occurred in that specific conflict. It is a fairly easy read for the most part, although Burleigh’s attention to detail can bog things down… I think that I counted about 14 different co ...more
Margot Sheehan
Like Antony Beevor's big book on the Second World War, Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat belongs to the new genre of 'Hammer Horror' History. Grotesque carnage and mutilations abound, described in obsessive detail, like the torments and tortures from a late-medieval martyrology.

Such obsessive description—amputations, disembowelments, flayings, beheadings, cannibalism—is a recent development. This stuff was generally left out of popular-scholarly historical commentary until the last decade or so,
...more
Joe
Michael Burleigh has written a fascinating history of World War II in Europe concentrating on moral dilemmas that faced both sides. Of course, quite quickly the Germans jettisoned these concerns, shortly after the Polish campaign Hitler issued a blanket amnesty for Germans charged with war crimes. There would never be another instance of mass prosecution of Germans for such offences by their own Army. The Allies too wrestled with concerns created by aerial bombardment, but as Burleigh showed mil ...more
Michael Confoy
The book was quite a surprise as the focus was mainly on NAZI Germany's crimes. Discussion is had on the USSR, Japan and on Allied Bombing of Germany, but the mass slaughter by the Germans is the main course. The book rightly points out that while Stalin was responsible for as many deaths as Hitler, the USSR never launched a war of annihilation and extermination as Germany did against Poland and the Soviet Union. If you were not immediately killed, the German plan was starvation as a helot for t ...more
Emmanuel Gustin
Writing an overall history of morality in WWII, encompassing the entire conflict, is a major challenge, especially if the author wishes to do more than summarize what others have written in works with a more limited scope. Burleigh partially succeeds. Through a careful selection of topics, he has written a book that is not a complete history of the war, but contains enough of the historical framework to support his discussion of politics, combat, resistance, and the Holocaust.

It is not really t
...more
Vadassery Thaiparambil Rakesh
A horrendous journey through the ravines of cold blooded murder on one side and the inhuman ideological conflicts on the other side. The author gets into the nitty gritty of the politics of war, but alas , mainly seeing it through the eyes of the eventual victors. Rightly demonizing the troika of villains on the axis side. But elevating the allies to God's stature was uncalled for, forgetting the atrocities committed by the various empires on the Asian and African continents. If Britain could fo ...more
Diane
Historian Michael Burleigh presents his history of the Second World War through the moral dilemmas that confronted the combatants (and their respective civilian populations) and discusses how they approached these issues. The book is well-researched and reabable. The author makes strong arguments, but backs them up with considerable evidence. However, the book often strays from its ostensible objective, and becomes a generalized history of the war, rather than focusing exclusively on the moral q ...more
Jill
Michael Burleigh has written a history of World War II from a moral (rather than the more common operational) perspective. Burleigh describes in detail episodes that required moral judgments on the part of the participants, who had to make such judgments in the face of extraordinarily difficult and complex circumstances.

This book is a very rich and probing investigation of many difficult and often subtle moral decisions that were made and forced upon various people, famous and unknown, powerful
...more
Olethros
-De la evolución del sentimiento de superioridad moral antes, durante y después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y de su influencia en la misma.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Relato, desde una perspectiva histórica y cronológica, del sustrato de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, de su desarrollo y conclusión pero orientado desde el posicionamiento de los líderes, gobiernos, políticas e individuos a la hora de tomar decisiones, y de cómo dicho posicionamiento cambió, mutó, se desarrolló o se afianzó seg
...more
Rich Hornbuckle
Excellent overview of what constitutes the nature of Good and Evil in the context of WWII. Espionage, collaborators, politics and Nationalism are explored. The oxymoron of a title mirror's Studs Turkel's ironically labeled THE GOOD WAR. When humans seek to kill each other in mass, it is sometimes difficult to diffferentiate between many many shades of gray.
Elizabeth
I read this because my father gave it to me and said he thought it would be "important for me to read." It gives a sobering but pretty comprehensive view of WWII; focusing less on battles and campaigns and more on the inner workings of generals' minds and the psychology of societies involved in the war. I was surprised that a non-fiction history text could have such an engaging and compelling voice, and that definitely made the book readable. I learned quite a lot from reading this book and high ...more
John Bladek
Interesting, if not as groundbreaking a study as it claims. Definitely written from a British perspective. Churchill gets tens times the attention as Roosevelt, who is never dealt with in any detail. In fact entire US contribution given short shrift, at one point being characterized as "belated and shameful." Still a good portrayal of the moral choices made in the context of world war, not from the comfort of the future.
Hadrian
Chilling history of the good and evil (mostly the latter) that soldiers, bureaucrats and politicians did in the largest conflict in world history, and so many were convinced that they were doing the right thing. Grisly and tough to read at times. Large focus on European theater. Some judgments about other historians are disagreeable, and some factual errors about the Pacific front, but still morbidly fascinating.
Tomi
This is an excellent book! Burleigh presents both sides of the various moral issues arising from WWII. I see that there is no such thing as a "good" side; both the Allied and the Axis populations suffered in making choices. Choosing the "lesser of two evils" was often the only realistic option available for many.
Marsh
It is strong stuff, well researched and not for the faint hearted. Important details that tend to get lost in the noise. 3.5 million Russians died in Prison camps. If anyone believed in that humans a re "basically good people" after reading this they need to ask what to do with this evidence.
Patricrk patrick
Somewhat dry but considering the topic that is understandable. Makes the case that the German army and people were well aware of what was going on. Has only a small amount on the Japanese. Phrase that stuck with me about the German behaviour in occupied Europe was "shopping with a gun".
David Alonso vargas
Concienzudamente escrito. El rigor del autor de trasluce en todos los capítulos. Muy ameno de leer y con una cantidad enorme de fuentes es, sin duda, uno de los grandes libros sobre la II Guerra Mundial.
Larry
Burleigh's book is detailed and interesting, but Michael Bessing's "Choices Under Fire" and A. C. Grayling's "Among the Dead Cities" bring a more thoughtful mpral analysis to the war. Read all three.
Jim Sumwalt
Not surprising that good and (mostly) evil were in ample supply on all sides. An atrocity-centric survey of a very atrocious era.
Richard Munro
definitely worth reading for ethics and WWII buffs.
Hugo
Feb 14, 2011 Hugo is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
There's still a lot of evil out there, and if you don't stand up to it, it will take over. Be prepared to "sup with the devil" as long as you remember that he isn't your friend, he's still the devil
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122387
Michael Burleigh is a British author and historian.
In 1977 Michael Burleigh took a first class honours degree in Medieval and Modern History at University College London, winning the Pollard, Dolley and Sir William Mayer prizes. After a PhD in medieval history in 1982, he went on to hold posts at New College, Oxford, the London School of Economics, and Cardiff where he was Distinguished Research P
...more
More about Michael Burleigh...
The Third Reich: A New History Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism Small Wars, Faraway Places: Global Insurrection and the Making of the Modern World, 1945-1965 Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe, from the French Revolution to the Great War

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