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The Second World War

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  5,074 ratings  ·  441 reviews
A masterful and comprehensive chronicle of World War II, by internationally bestselling historian Antony Beevor.
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
Hardcover, 863 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,074 ratings  ·  441 reviews

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Loring Wirbel
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
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
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
Jason Fritz
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Adam Nevill
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tremendous. Haven't been able to leave this alone over the last fortnight. Finished it last night.
Left me asking the question: how did civilisation survive such a conflict?
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for:
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
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
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 rated it really liked it
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
Bevan Lewis
Nov 21, 2015 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
Darran Mclaughlin
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, history, 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
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It took me about 9 months to read this book by Antony Beevor. During this time period, I was consumed by the events that took place during 1939-1945 while the world and civilization plunged into uncertainty and fear. Everything that I had learned about the War previously seemed naive in comparison to what actually happened. I will not wax-poetic on exactly why that is, but I will say that I am very thankful I read this. I am left with an immense sense of appreciation at the heroism of the indivi ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
L’Europa nella quale siamo nati
Questo libro ripaga largamente il lettore in cerca di un’opera divulgativa e di buon livello, che dia una visione d’insieme della seconda guerra mondiale. E’ una lettura necessariamente imponente che ho apprezzato moltissimo, perché nell’ultimo anno di scuola non siamo arrivati a studiarla e le mie conoscenze erano parziali e di seconda mano. Per esempio, non sapevo che la guerra fra Cina e Giappone è stata combattuta in quegli anni, né che di fatto la Cina avesse
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The front cover of this book proclaims it to be “World War II as Tolstoy would have described it - the great and the small.” This is definitely that book. A comprehensive and thorough overview of ww2 that details the battles, power dynamics, politics, characters, and so much more. This is a complex, tragic, and fascinating time period in our history and this book provided a great overview. After reading this there is so much more I would like to learn. I would like to know more about the key peo ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Konstantinos Panidis
While WW2 has been a favorite topic of mine for years I mainly read about it online.
The reason I turned to this book is that I couldn't find answers to certain questions I had in wikipedia etc.
I wasn't disappointed at all to read about the whole WW2 chronicle in great detail while it still being digestible. What I liked most was real witness accounts of how the fronts looked like in the form of letters written by soldiers or parts of conversations that took place between the central characters
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
World War II claimed more lives than any other conflict in human history. The way it scarred people in so many places makes it one of the defining moments (probably the defining moment) in the modern history.

For USSR and its descendants, WWII has always been the main goalpost in History. The country paid a terrible price (40 million lives is the current consensus). There are very few families which came unscathed from that war - an overwhelming majority lost relatives who fought, died in occupa
Victor Kurzweil
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is arguable that the second world war was the biggest event in human history, certainly in the last few thousand years. It resulted in the death of over 50 million people, all over the globe. Hundreds of millions were injured physically and mentally. Much of the infrastructure of civilisation was destroyed. Its difficult to believe that this happened in living memory of some people still alive today, and had a direct effect upon the world as it is now. This is the best book I've read on the s ...more
TR Peterson
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jim Mccartney
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Very interesting and readable history of the second world war. Shocking treatment of civilians and prisoners at the hands of the axis forces and the willingness of Soviet leaders to sacrifice their own troops is truly frightening.
Leo Robertson
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
-Que coincidan rigor, ritmo e interés para el gran público es algo muy difícil, sí, pero no imposible.-

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Aproximación sintética (relativamente, claro, porque son más de mil páginas de texto sin contar los apéndices) a la Segunda Guerra Mundial que trata, con éxito, de mostrar cómo el conflicto global se construyó mediante enfrentamientos relacionados pero diferentes en muchos sentidos.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"6 Years. 60 millions lives lost. No human life untouched"
Honza Prchal
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While I and a few others think Stopped At Stalingrad to be Beevor's best book, because it was so original, there is a very solid case to be made that this general history of the war is his best.
It is so good that one is immediately aware that the author studied under Keegan.
Beevor's treatment of Soviet Archives (not just for the plans to invade Western Europe that were aborted by the Atomic bombs) and recent scholarship on the Chinese Civil War makes it depressingly illuminating. A fifth of huma
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  • Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945
  • Stalingrad: How the Red Army Triumphed
  • Destiny in the Desert: The Story Behind El Alamein - the Battle That Turned the Tide
  • No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945
  • A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
  • The War of Wars: The Great European Conflict 1793 - 1815
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
  • Barbarossa
  • The War in the West: Volume 1: The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941
  • Dunkirk - The Men They Left Behind
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
  • Dresden: Tuesday, 13 February, 1945
  • The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45
  • The Second World War: A Complete History
  • Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible
  • The Pacific War: 1941-1945
Antony James Beevor is a British historian who was 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 five years before resigning his commission. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War and the 20th century in general.

“In Soviet eyes the definition of ‘fascist’ included anyone who did not follow the orders of the Communist Party.” 2 likes
“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
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