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The Second World War

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  3,426 Ratings  ·  328 Reviews
Over the past two decades, Antony Beevor has established himself as one of the world's premier historians of WWII. His multi-award winning books have included Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945. Now, in his newest and most ambitious book, he turns his focus to one of the bloodiest and most tragic events of the twentieth century, the Second World War.

In this searing na
Published June 5th 2012 by Back Bay Books (first published June 2012)
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Aug 14, 2012 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will open by writing that I know very little about the Second World War. Well, I KNEW very little about the Second World War. After reading this book I now know a lot more. I'm not sure I'm happier for the knowing.

I did not sit down and read this book through in one sitting. To be honest I've had it for several months and I read it chapter by chapter in between all of the other books I have read this summer. It was too much war for me to take all at once. That does not mean that it was a bad
Nancy Stringer
Every nation experienced and remembers the war in different ways. For the British, French and Poles, it began with the Nazi attack on Poland in September 1939. For Russians, notwithstanding their assaults on Poland, Finland and the Baltic States, the real war started in June 1941 with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. For Americans, it began with the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. For Japan, however, Pearl Harbor was the continuation of an expansionist military adventure th ...more
Loring Wirbel
Mar 10, 2013 Loring Wirbel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Single-volume chronologies of WW2 seem to be all the rage of late, and this book must compete with such works as Max Hastings' "Inferno" and Gerhard Weinberg's "World at Arms." Unlike the two mentioned, which take a particular unique vertical slice, Beevor just tries to tell a decade-long story about two theaters of war, and do it competently. In that he succeeds, for the most part.

While the writing is not the breathtaking sort often reached for by the likes of Weinberg, it is readable and enjoy
Jason Fritz
Mar 22, 2013 Jason Fritz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the acknowledgements to his latest history, The Second World War, Antony Beevor says that he wrote this comprehensive tome on one of the biggest events in human history because he wanted to fill in the gaps to his own knowledge of the topic. But, he says, “above all it is an attempt to understand how the whole complex jigsaw fits together, with the direct and indirect effects of actions and decisions taking place in very different theatres of war.” In this, Beevor succeeds where no other hist ...more
Jim Coughenour
For some crazy reason I bought both Beevor's book on World War II and Max Hasting's Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 when they were published in the US a couple years ago. While I wouldn't call myself a WW2 buff, my steady interest dates back to the summer of 1976 when I picked up John Lukacs' The Last European War, September 1939/December 1941 in a Georgetown bookstore. Lukacs provides a rich diplomatic history, and the kind of drama underlying the many novels of Alan Furst. Beevor and Hast ...more
Matti Karjalainen
Antony Beevorin "Toinen maailmansota" (WSOY, 2012) on liki tuhatsivuinen yleisesitys sodasta, josta on ehditty vuosien varrella kirjoittaa niin paljon, mutta johon voi ottaa edelleen uuden tulokulman ja josta arkistojen avautuessa löytyy alati uutta tutkittavaa.

Olen lukenut sotahistoriaa jonkin verran, mutta ihmeellisenä asiantuntijana en silti voi itseäni pitää. Beevorin teokset onkin suunnattu aika lailla minun kohderyhmälleni: yleistajuista ja kiinnostavaa historiaa, jota lukee sujuvasti kuin
Dec 22, 2012 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always been fascinated with any and all things to do with World War II. From the rise of Hitler, to the bombing of Hiroshima, this is perhaps the richest time in the history of the world. Due to the staggering scale of this time period, most books, both fiction and nonfiction, choose to focus on specific events or characters. In this hugely ambitious work, Antony Beevor attempts to provide a narrative overview of the entire war.

In the book, Beevor effectively introduces the early onsets
Nov 07, 2013 Themistocles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
Shelves: world-war-ii, history
This is a subject where a single battle, a single country or a single person can take up more than one tomes of material. So, I imagine it's extremely hard to fit the whole war in a single book.

Yet Beevor has done it with surprising clarity, completeness and depth. I've read hundreds of books on WWII, and yet I found that there were actually new things to learn from this single-tome volume!

Beevor writes very nicely, with a fluid narrative that keeps the interest up with no let up. He manages to
Darran Mclaughlin
Jan 19, 2016 Darran Mclaughlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, british, war
I have had the urge to read a good general history of the Second World War for years and finally decided to go for this one as Antony Beevor is highly regarded. This is a good narrative history that provides an accessible general picture of the central historical moment of the last century.
There wasn't much that really struck me as a revelation or an original and revisionist perspective having picked up a lot this history through other reading or documentaries and films, but I suppose you have
Aug 24, 2012 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third of three really good comprehensive histories of the second world war to come out in the past two years (along with those by Andrew Roberts and Max Hastings). It is comprehensive and well written. What is most important, however, is how the book tells a coherent story. Any single volume history of the war must leave things out. You can tell this here, since Beevor has published multiple well received volumes on various battles of the war before this one - on such critical battle ...more
Dec 03, 2014 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This magisterial work had humble beginnings, according to the author. Beevor writes in the Acknowledgements section of this book "I always felt a bit of a fraud when consulted as a general expert on the Second World War because I was acutely conscious of the large gaps in my knowledge, especially of unfamiliar aspects."

Beevor's fame as a writer of narrative history is very much based on his histories of Second World War battles - Stalingrad, Berlin : the downfall 1945, and D-Day : the battle for
Dec 28, 2015 Bevan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Antony Beevor's general history of the Second World War is a momentous achievement. Weighing in at 880 pages it provides a comprehensive, well considered and well written account of a truly momentous set of events in world history. Writing a general history of one of the twentieth century’s ‘Total Wars’ is a formidable task. Although the timeframe for the First and Second World Wars are individually relatively narrow, the geographical breadth and sheer range of events make it difficult to constr ...more
TR Peterson
This book does an excellent job of tying every part of the Second World War together. Though Beevor is a specialist on the European war, he covers everything from Operation Torch in North Africa to the Sino-Japanese War and its impact on Axis & Allied power.

In his style, Beevor writes in a way that makes it difficult to put the book down. As ever, it's not simply a chronological arrangement of events but a story which is endlessly fascinating.

For all this, it is clear to the reader that Bee
Todd Wright
Feb 17, 2014 Todd Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel bad giving this book only four stars, it is one of the best books I have ever read about WWII, however it promises so much in the beginning it would be impossible to carry through in less than two thousand pages.

The author includes far more information on the war in China than I have encountered before, you will most likely need a map to keep up.

Very few of the major players hold up well to Beevor’s analysis, just a few examples:

Churchill – a gadfly with an attention deficit, it was his p
Jul 03, 2014 T.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This "definitive history" is both too quick and too slow. I suppose it is my fault for wanting the sweep of the Second World War in one book. He expects a certain background knowledge of military technology that I don't have. What would a glider look like in WWII? Is it really what I'm thinking? Apparently Messerschmitts come in different sizes, but it is left up to you to figure out that some are bombers, or fighters. You have to hope the General's name is ethnically identifiable (and it often ...more
Oct 18, 2015 emile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"6 Years. 60 millions lives lost. No human life untouched"
Jun 01, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘If we are American,’ wrote Anne Applebaum, ‘we think “the war” was something that started with Pearl Harbor in 1941 and ended with the atomic bomb in 1945. IF we are British, we remember the Blitz of 1940 and the liberation of Belsen. If we are French, we remember Vichy and the Resistance. If we are Dutch we think of Anne Frank. Even if we are German we know only a part of the story.’ “ p768-769

I read this book to try and put all the pieces of the puzzle of World War II together. The book does
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in WWII
Recommended to Czarny by: I am a great fan of Antony Beevor
Shelves: european-history
I approached Antony Beevor's World War II with considerable trepidation. Beevor is brilliant at dealing with individual battles or campaigns but had never before attempted synthesis history. His survey of World War II is a resounding success as Beevor demonstrates his strength in this area.

Contrary to tradition which selects the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 as the starting point of WWI, Beevor uses Stalin's decision the previous June to mount a large scale response to Japan's incu
Jun 28, 2012 Grglstr rated it really liked it
Anthony Beevor has this peculiar talent for providing the time-lapse satellite view of world events while still engaging with the reader on a very personal level. He effectively couples the broad movements of armies and the tactical squabbles of generals with the plight of individuals. That is particularly evident in this book.

As the author himself states, The Second World War was written to fill in his own gaps in knowledge of what happened in the conflict. As such, a lot of the material here m
Sep 18, 2015 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is very clear to me that I am not going to even come close to meeting my reading goal for the year. It is also very clear to me that I love Antony Beevor.

I have read two of his other books and find him to be an excellent author. I will say that I think I prefer his books focusing on a single battle over the all-encompassing The Second World War, though. Both Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin 1945 were more engrossing reads; books you did not want to put down. It is not often I find books that
Sep 25, 2013 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hookah, cheshire
my understanding is that it was Antony Beevor who set off the mini-Stalingrad phase a few years back--one that has generated more than a few good works including Beevor's editing of Soviet journalist Vasily Grossman's notes, as well as the claimed "Enemy at the Gates." in fact, I think the publishing situation got so muddled that there were two modern books out at the same time (or was it two movies?) about the alleged sniper duel at Stalingrad, which in any case was a major historical event of ...more
Mark Adkins
Dec 06, 2015 Mark Adkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antony Beevor's book "The Second World War" is as you can imagine a massive book, coving all aspects of the war from the origins of the war to the end ramifications of the new world.

The author does a very good job of outlining the events of the war in a coherent manner which is no easy task as the book covers all the theatres of operation (the pacific campaign, the eastern and western fronts, the air campaign and the naval campaign). Each chapter covers a few months focusing on a certain theatre
Nick Black
Jan 20, 2014 Nick Black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-heart-war
A readable and comprehensive history of WWII. Dispenses with the deep narrative and rich primary sources that marked Beevor's other books (Stalingrad, The Battle for Spain, etc), which is kind of unfortunate. Admits some editorial errors, which is still more unfortunate. Good coverage of the Chinese war, though not prior to 1939, and admirably integrates the Italians. Introduces the Churchill-Stalin "percentages memo", which was news to me -- not something highlit in Churchill's six-volume The S ...more
Vishwanath Saragadam
"But it remains a poignant reminder that the consequences of decisions by leaders such as Hitler and Stalin ripped apart any certainty in the traditional fabric of existence".

History, as Antony Beevor says, is not tidy, and that is exactly what I captured in this book. Till the day I picked this book, WWII was a dispassionate event between entities called nations. But this book showed that it was a war of individuals, in more ways than one. Antony Beevor perfectly portrays the emotions running t
Paul Fulcher
Dec 13, 2014 Paul Fulcher rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A very readable and comprehensive history of the Second World War. Beevor's main focus - and success - is in showing how the various different conflicts across the globe did, in reality, influence each other despite the actually very small practical overlap (for example he finds only one very minor example where German forces assisted Japan).

However, I didn't find this as strong as the works, e.g. on Stalingrad and Berlin, that made Beevor's name. Those books distinguished themselves by focusing
Leo Robertson
Aug 07, 2012 Leo Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great, and it's about the most compact complete story of The Second World War there's going to be, I reckon.

You get a really strong sense of how quickly it all happened, how panicky everyone was and how completely unprepared we must have felt, and how futile it was too. The narrative jumps between grand descriptions of entire battles and snapshots of the lives of individuals given by quotes or other details, but it all the time feels like a very natural progression, which is difficu
Philippe Malzieu
With Beevor, we are not in the history of long times. The presentation is chronological. A modern historian would have chosen a theme, here there is the beginning and the end. And it is very well. It is even reassuring.
We see the history parading us. There is a clinical precision.
There are two aspects which seems important to me. The first one is that it was a world war. We too much tend to think only in Europe and the Pacific. But there was China, the Philippines, Burma... All these bloody epi
Ari Eris
Mar 11, 2013 Ari Eris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here it is, the one and only general history of World War II that you'll ever have to read. Antony Beevor accomplishes what I imagine to be an intimidating task for any historian: balancing military history with social history; giving equal coverage to every country involved; and managing to humanize the millions of victims that our brains would prefer to numb down to incredible statistics. With The Second World War Beevor captures the reality that this was truly a global conflict in a way that ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t usually push my reading tastes on others but read this damn book. Everyone! Over the course of my adult life I have probably read over 100 books relating to WWII. I won’t go as far as to say this is the best but it is a completely enthralling epic told with consummate skill. He has the added vantage point unavailable to earlier chroniclers of the war because recent historians have access to heretofore denied Soviet archives. I think what this book does better than all the others is to pa ...more
Jul 22, 2014 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every major step of the war is covered in detail with its significance to the overall outcome of the war. The author speaks with historical authority and corrects many misconceptions that I had about the war. The book is choke full of facts but the most pleasant part is for every major battle the author finds a diary or a letter from a low level participant and personalizes the engagement through the participants eyes.

After having listened to this book, I can't even imagine listening to any othe
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Antony James Beevor is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous historian of World War II, John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for 5 years before resigning his commission. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War and 20th century in general.

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“Stalin’s appeasement of Hitler had continued with a large increase in deliveries to Germany of grain, fuel, cotton, metals and rubber purchased in south-east Asia, circumventing the British blockade. During the period of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union had provided 26,000 tons of chromium, used in metal alloys, 140,000 tons of manganese and more than two millions tons of oil to the Reich. Despite having received well over eighty clear indications of a German invasion–indeed probably more than a hundred–Stalin seemed more concerned with ‘the security problem along our north-west frontier’, which meant the Baltic states. On the night of 14 June, a week before the German invasion, 60,000 Estonians, 34,000 Latvians and 38,000 Lithuanians were forced on to cattle trucks for deportation to camps in the distant interior of the Soviet Union. Stalin remained unconvinced even when, during the last week before the invasion, German ships rapidly left Soviet ports and embassy staff were evacuated.” 1 likes
“In Soviet eyes the definition of ‘fascist’ included anyone who did not follow the orders of the Communist Party.” 0 likes
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