Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945” as Want to Read:
No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  779 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
One of the world?s leading historians re- examines World War II and its outcome

A clear-eyed reappraisal of World War II that offers new insight by reevaluating well-established facts and pointing out lesser-known ones, No Simple Victory asks readers to reconsider what they know about the war, and how that knowledge might be biased or incorrect. Norman Davies poses simple
Paperback, 592 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about No Simple Victory, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about No Simple Victory

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
M. D.  Hudson
I think I have had my fill of WWII revisionist history. Okay, already, the Soviets suffered more and fought more than all the other Allies put together. Davies “No Simple Victory” is all over that, and I found I learned a lot of stuff. And yet a day or two after reading it, I started getting cranky about it.

Well, first the good stuff. Davies is an Eastern European expert, and a pretty good marshaller of facts and figures. He uses a lot of easy-to-apprehend charts to keep the numbers (mostly dea
-Los libros pueden ser incómodos de leer por varias razones.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Con un subtítulo que debería preparar ya al lector, “¿Quién ganó realmente la Segunda Guerra Mundial?”, repaso al conflicto en Europa (mayoritariamente) desde diferentes ópticas, ángulos y temáticas con la intención de tratar de ofrecer visiones del mismo no demasiado trilladas para el gran público.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:
Aug 18, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those who have read many books about the Eastern Front (Germany versus the Soviet Union), this book may have less surprises, but for those brought up on Saving Private Ryan, Hollywood WW2, most western histories of the war, and the Greatest Generation it may be a major eye opener. Davies clearly loves Poland (on which he has written the national accepted monumental history)and given its suffering, who can blame him. What he does bring into clear focus is the writing of history and the proble ...more
Dainius Jocas
Aug 06, 2014 Dainius Jocas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Puiki knyga.

Antrasis Pasaulinis karas buvo siaubingas visomis prasmėmis. Jo vertinimas dar dabar yra net labai nevienareikšmis. Taip yra, nes kiekviena iš suinteresuotų pusių mano, kad jų indelis ir jų kančios kare buvo pačios reikšmingiausios. Visi tie nesutarimai, užduoda gausybę klausimų, kuriuos autorius ir stengiasi aptarti.

Kaip vienas iš Norman Davies principų rašant šią knygą tikrai turėjo būti proporcingumas. Reikšmingesni įvykiai tikrai aprašyti detaliau, negu ne tokie reikšmingi. Spėk
Dec 24, 2010 Ilya rated it did not like it
Shelves: world-war-ii
This is an overview of the European Theater of World War II from a Polonocentric perspective. Every page I looked at has a claim that made me go: WTF? Sławomir Rawicz was not a fraud? Typical American GIs were of Italian and Polish descent? The Soviet Union annexed 14 independent countries including Uzbekistan, and set them up as Soviet republics? Vlasov's movement had a million men? Most (as opposed to some) POWs liberated by the Red Army were sent to the GULag? Well over 10 million Ukrainians ...more
Vikas Datta
Mar 02, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No matter how much you might have read about the Second World War or believe you know about it, this book will be an absolute eye-opener. Provocative at times but cogently-argued throughout, Mr Davies has written a near-comprehensive encyclopaedia of the conflict organised thematically in all aspects imaginable - and accompanied with unrivalled insights into the mechanics and outcome of the conflict...
Jim Gallen
Oct 10, 2015 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“No Simple Victory” is a critical examination of World War II in Europe by Norman Davies, an export on Polish and Eastern European involvement in that war. It presents a much different perspective than that usually encountered by American, Canadian or British readers. The points of the book are two-fold: first, that the bulk of the fighting occurred on the Eastern Front and secondly that the goodness of the “Good War” was soiled by reliance on the forces of a tyrannical Soviet Union to achieve v ...more
Brad Rousse
An interesting idea - a corrective look at the European front of World War II - bogged down by the organizational structure. Davies organizes his work around themes (military, soldier, civilian, etc), which is an interesting approach, but it suffers due to the fact that things are repeated over and over. The civilian chapter in particular was difficult to plow through, not just because it was repetitive but because it seemed to be very "the kitchen sink" in its approach to covering every possibl ...more
Mar 20, 2016 D-day rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The two main points of Davies book are:
1) The crux of the European theatre in WW2 was on the Eastern Front, and the Western allies efforts were mainly a side show. This is a fair comment, although I think Davies somewhat overstates his case on how radical a position this is. It is true that most popular histories of the war published in Britain, the US (or for that matter Canada) focus on the Western Front. That is only natural. However any serious student of WW2 realises that the bulk of the f
Apr 02, 2007 PJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
I found this to be one of the most insightful books on the European Theatre of WWII. The book is well organized and really addresses topics that are not addressed in typical history classes. The book really paints a stark picture of the Russian contingent and how they were as barbaric as the Nazis before, during and after the war.
Lance Lasalle
Apr 30, 2016 Lance Lasalle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book attempts what might be the impossible. To present an objective view of WWII in Europe, devoid of nationalist narratives and propaganda that typically accompanies accounts of the Second World War.

This may be the first book to approach the subject of the War since the Fall of the Berlin Wall and opening up of data in Eastern Europe to Western Historians.

One is left with an impression of a war that was, essentially, not the dramatic triumph of democracy and capitalism over the forces of a
Roger Wagner
Jan 15, 2010 Roger Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an attempt to assess the so-called "Good War" — an accurate overall history of which, according to Davies, has not yet been written (every participant nation tells the story centralizing their own role in the war and its outcome). Davies provides what he thinks should be an "outline" for such a comprehensive overview. WWII (Davies confines his discussion to the war in Europe), so often portrayed in America as a simple victory of "good" over "evil," is nowhere near that uncomplicated. You ...more
Oct 10, 2011 Gill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-wwii
Davies here makes the case for the centrality of the Eastern Front in WWII in Europe and thus for the Soviet Union being the victor with the US, UK, and others playing a minor role.

This ahistorical and gross exaggeration is a useful corrective to the similar distorted view in the West that the US and UK were the decisive players and that the Soviet Union would never have been able to stand up to the Germans without them.

There are no certainties in alternative history so we can't know how WWII

I find Norman Davies' history books both thought provoking and annoying.
He makes you reconsider what you think you know but he also writes as a vehicle for his opinions which can, unfortunately detract from the enjoyment of the former. One occasionally gets the impression of an axe being sharpened in between lines.
To extend the well known football metaphor 'this is a book of several halves'.

Its' basic premise is that the Second World War in Europe was a conflict between three ideologies and two
Justin Evans
Jul 23, 2010 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-etc
So, this was published in 2007, but smells of the '90s, when people apparently were shocked to learn that Stalin and his cronies were actually pretty evil. It'll teach you a lot about the war in Europe, especially if you know little about it, particularly the importance of the Eastern Front and the Red Army. There's no narrative, but the format, especially for the more social history type bits, is great: a page or two on important themes, with references if you want to read more.

I would go to f
Jan 09, 2012 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, history
Let's clarify one thing right from the start - "No Simple Victory" is not a traditional book about history of Second World War. Rather, it is a study of historiography of this period and an analysis of the reasons why this period is perceived in such different and often very warped way by different people, depending on their nationality, ethnicity and political background. Furthermore, Davies claims that if the history of Second World War was reviewed objectively, then historians wouldn't be abl ...more
Oleksiy Kononov
Aug 07, 2011 Oleksiy Kononov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davies's history of WWII in Europe will be a captivating reading for both western and eastern (ex-USSR and CEE) readers. The role of the Soviet Union in victory over the Nazis had indeed been underestimated in western historiography and pop-culture. On the other hand, I'd be interested to read more about the role of the Allies' supplies to the USSR. Even some Russian historians are starting to acknowledge the vital role of the Land Lease deliveries, especially in 1941-42. Unfortunately, Davies d ...more
Kate Sampsell-willmann
I question the validity of drawing meta-conclusions about good and evil when one's sample is intentionally incomplete. The Pacific cannot credibly be disconnected from the Atlantic when assessing which group did "more." In doing so, Davies sets up a very weak argument in assessing 3 ideologies. He includes the US as an equal source of ideology long before its ideologies became relevant to the war in Europe and thus commits the primary historical sin: presentism. The US emerges as the arsenal, th ...more
Ken Hernandez
Aug 03, 2013 Ken Hernandez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never been a huge WWII buff but I've read my share of books and am conversant the basics, or I thought. I was never away of the huge part the USSR played in the allies winning WWII.
As an American growing up, my history school books where full of The Battle of Britain, D-Day, the western theater of the war. The pacific theater, Midway, Sea battles and battles for tiny little islands.
The Eastern theater was skimmed, half a chapter in passing.
The Eastern theater of WWII dwarfed anything that
Jul 03, 2009 Stefan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant analytical study of how a dysfunctional view of the Second World War created problems later. Norman Davies is a gifted write who is able to effectively articulate about the lack of a balanced, comprehensive, complete view of the Second World. Davies intelligent, carefully researched, well communicated message is that everyone's view of World War Two is distorted because each country's individual role in the War is put before a general picture. For example, Davies points out that D-Da ...more
Oct 29, 2014 Ravi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive and brilliantly written book on the history of the Second World War in Europe from a non-nationalistic point of view. The author convincingly makes the case with facts, figures and events that the Second World War in Europe was essentially a German-Soviet war with everything else being a side show. He calls the Western allied contribution against Hitler "respectable but modest" and "important but not decisive". Essentially an "un-Hollywood" version of history.

Davies also dispels
Mar 18, 2016 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've ever read about the history of WWII it presents a radically different point of view from the usual works by western historians, where the staggering imbalance of the contribution to Nazi defeat by the Soviet and Western armies is given due attention.

It is also refreshing the way the author organizes the material by thematic chunks, such as soldiers, civilians, murders, refugees, concentration camps, heroines, spies, traitors, and so forth, which allows him to
Aug 04, 2012 Chuck rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a tedious book. The author claimed that it was a revistionist history of WW2, but anyone who's read much history of the war is already familiar with his main points. There's nothing particularly new or bold about them. Broadly speaking, he has two main points. The first is that it wasn't a war of the Allied good guys versus the Axis bad guys. The truth isn't as simple as that according to Davies, and as he points out, Stalin was every bit as bad as Hitler. His second point is that it was ...more
Mr. Davies has a refreshingly detached perspective of the war. He also has an empathy for those who suffered. There however are many irritations- his style is that of a bored lecturer, playing to a safe gallery with an eye on his career rather than the incisive independence required for a truly good historian. His main failing, a huge one, is that he does not put the war in context, the German genuine grievances, the duplicity of Churchill, the opportunism of business, the secret implementation ...more
Feb 18, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This comprehensive book by a British historian breaks down much of what Americans "know" about the European theater of the Second World War. The volume reorients attention toward Eastern/Central Europe and explores the magnitude of the conflict between Nazi Germany and the USSR. Moreover, the book discusses how the alliance with the USSR tangled the US and UK up in complicated moral questions that largely have been swept away (to say nothing of other morally-fraught choices like the western bomb ...more
Mar 16, 2016 Leonardo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
Entiendo que este es un libro más de "izquierda" sobre la segunda guerra mundial.

Comentado en Sobre la Violencia Pág.148
Manuel J.
Aug 17, 2016 Manuel J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book uses a different form to look at the historical facts of the Second World War. Instead of describing the battles and the other operations of the armies, it approaches the question with many views, some of then quite schematic. I recommend the reading and the formation of a personal opinion about it.
Aug 20, 2013 lärm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It takes a few lifetimes to read all books on world war 2.
For those who don't bet their money on reincarnation yet still want to have a good overview of the most important facts, figures and angles, Norman Davies offers one of the best books available:
it's easy to read, doesn't go too much into details and tries to offer a bigger picture.
Norman doesn't care about taboos and therefor some people really hate this book. For example, he claims that the USSR has done the biggest part in crushing the
Sep 06, 2009 Dr. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
A brave book that attempts to undermine the western view of the European theater during world war 2. It's exciting to read and genius in the way that it uses the facts that most Americans are already familiar with to crush our way of thinking about it. Anyone, especially people who read a lot of this kind of shit could benefit from it's fresh analysis and bold questioning of conventions. At times it goes so far as to condemn the allies for their inhumane behavior in the course of the war. By the ...more
Jan 04, 2009 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I appreciated the perspective the author offered on his subject, at times I felt he was overly critical of wartime decisions made by the Allied governments. I'm not well-read enough to fully appreciate the criticisms made against WWII historians, but accept them at face value and am grateful for the enlightenment they offered to me. The organization of the book, being more topical than chronological, enhanced the experience of looking at the war from a different perspective. Some of the se ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe
  • Decision in Normandy
  • Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
  • Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War
  • Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War
  • The Longest Night: The Bombing of London on May 10, 1941
  • Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible
  • The Germans in Normandy
  • Why the Allies Won
  • Bomber Command
  • The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940
  • A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War
  • Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942
  • Dresden
  • A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II
  • The Bravest Battle: The Twenty-eight Days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
  • The Third Reich: A New History
  • Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom. From 1971, Davies taught Polish history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) of the University of London, where he was professor from 1985 to 1996. Currently, he is Supernumary Fellow at Wolfso ...more
More about Norman Davies...

Share This Book