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The Second World War

(The Second World War #1-6)

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,673 ratings  ·  120 reviews
The definitive, Nobel Prize–winning history of World War II, universally acknowledged as a magnificent historical reconstruction and an enduring work of literature


From Britain's darkest and finest hour to the great alliance and ultimate victory, the Second World War remains the most pivotal event of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill was not only the war'
Paperback, 4736 pages
Published May 9th 1986 by Mariner Books (first published 1948)
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Paul W Churchill represented the conservative ruling class. After the hardships of World War 2, the British were looking for social reformation, and a more…moreChurchill represented the conservative ruling class. After the hardships of World War 2, the British were looking for social reformation, and a more egalitarian society. As a result the abandoned the war-time coalition, of which Churchill was the leader, and voted in the Labour party.(less)

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Read this many years ago, it will certainly keep a history fan occupied for a long while. Unless you're a very fast reader.

I've seen criticisms of the work, something like the idea that Churchill sometimes implies (or even insists) that his own view of things, or his own role in bringing something about, is just a bit dismissive of other conceptions, or parts that others played.

Such criticisms are, obviously (if they have any validity) the view of historians that have stu
For quite some time I wanted to engage Winston Churchill’s extensive history and memoir of the Second World War. Before one begins the struggle with such a large-scale work, some planning is necessary, so the question was which edition it should be. Consulting Wikipedia I found that in addition to the original six-volume edition there’s also one that has twelve-volumes (same content I suppose), as well as a “condensed” edition, which appeared in a single volume (but still brings it to stately 11 ...more
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I've finally finished The Gathering Storm by Churchill, the first volume in his 6 volume set on WWII. It was an amazing read. Beautifully written. "Still if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is ...more
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Churchill was at the center of the greatest war in human history and, in addition to being a masterful statesman, had about as good a command of the English language as any reader could hope for. These books are his very personal history of the Second World War, being comprised in the main of his wartime memoranda and letters to the famous personages of his time -- Roosevelt, Stalin, his key subordinates, and many others -- and his commentary on those writings. It is hardly objective, and is qui ...more
Dec 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Forgot about reading this one summer...
I read it in Swedish, my dad had all the volumes, wonderfully leatherbound, I think he found them at some estate sale.
Winston is a freak, a brilliant man for making war, I guess what could be called a "pure" military man. You can't but help respecting the man, he's an incredible writer and all the thousands of pages are not at all boring (if you have an interest) but it is also extremely chilling to realize that the decisions and plans that ulti
Scot B
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Even though Churchill is in love with the numerics of war (tonage of ships, material & arms, troops, etc.) These books have fascinating details, memos and such and interesting stories about Churchill's relationships with Roosevelt and Stalin, etc.. and it's history written from one of the participants(sometimes maybe it's myopic and self aggrandizing, but that's to be expected) and it reads like he speaks, which, of course, is wonderfully insightful and humorous.
Mowena Glunch
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
I have read this series twice. Churchill writes well, and I love the detail. Self-serving, so untrustworthy, but still absorbing.
Chris S
Dec 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Brilliant. I loved The 'World at War' documentry tv series which got me interested in the subject, and hence my fascination with Churchill - especially the way he, and only he, stood up to Hitler for a whole year while England was getting bombed and the threat of invasion by the nazis hung in the air. The way he rallied the country was genius, and his work ethic and determination is inspirational. This edition also contains his famous speeches etc... if anyone wants to lern about WW2 - this is a ...more
Miltiadis Michalopoulos
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A classic study. I should have read it earlier in my life.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed every minute of this remarkable overview of WWII. This first-hand account, written by one of the principle figures of the war, illustrates enormous insight into the how and why of every major (and most minor) decisions made by the various Allied leaders.

The history begins at the end of WWI and gives a brief overview of the political and social atmospheres that led to the breakdown of peace and the second world war. It continues through the end of the war, and the epilogue (written by
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It took me a few years and a stint of unemployment to finsih these - and yes, no surprise there, Winston oddly enough is biased - BUT the man's language is magnificent and as a historian closely involved in the events described he is less biased than many of his successors. Well worth the time of your life invested.
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have an old set of this series by Winston Churchill that I purchased from an antique dealer on Very educational account of the events of the Second World War and the events that led up to the Second World War. A privilege to read the words of one of the greatest leaders of Great Britain and the 20th century.
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This would be 5 stars just for the historical perspective alone. But then you have the written and orative grace of Winston Churchill and it's game over. Some day I'll read all six volumes, but this was a great way to get started. Churchill is certainly one of the greatest figures in modern history, and certainly of World War II. He was a lion.
Daryl Thompson
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I always enjoy reading Churchills review of the Second World War. Winston had great insight into the coming clash and how it was going to effect the world.
Kent Beck
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The series is deeply flawed--simplistic, self-aggrandizing, and dragging at times. However, holy crap, the guy was there and in the middle of it. Read it to understand Churchill better.
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've just finished the last of Churchill's amazing six volume History of the Second World War. I strongly recommend it to everyone whose parents or grandparents fought or lived through that war. It's the first-hand account, from the top. Churchill manages to communicate the enormity of horrendous war on a world scale, theatre by theatre (for example, the number of ships and tonnage of shipping sunk is almost unbelievable). Churchill writes extremely well, and as a historical record he copiously ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
1-3 could have been prevented, Germany humiliated, all there in Mein Kampf advocating fight, immense unemployment, US did not act in early 30's Japan invasion of China or Austria, execute opposition, govts obsessed by pacifism, overly self-confident Chamberlain, ignored Soviets, Poland and Hungary feed on Czechoslovakia, only nego with govts with morals, formed statistical party of own, Soviets into Poland Finland no help from England and France. 2; German prep for ww2 different than 1 unlike Fr ...more
Geoffrey Benn
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
This is Churchill’s six volume history of WWII – it kept me company while I was recovering from breaking my ankle. It covers from the end of WWI through the immediate end of WWII. It is extremely well-written and draws extensively from Churchill’s letters and notes from the war years. I particularly enjoyed getting a feel for the personalities involved at high levels in the war effort and learning about the administrative strategies used to lead the war effort. I thought it could have done witho ...more
Michael Linton
Nov 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This is book is interesting to understand the perspective of the war from one of the 3 leaders of the Allies. It's not a good read if you really want to understand the details of the war. I read the abridged version put out by Life so that may explain it. It helped me the understand the war from beginning to end but it made me realize I want to read about the war from the people in the war. I want to read the stories about the people. It's fascinating to read about the negotiations between Roose ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer - I only listened to the second part - I had no idea there were so many more until I came on here to rate it. The second one was excellent. I did doze a bit through parts but only because I listened to it on a road trip with my husband and mother - sleep happens when you're not driving. My husband LOOOOOOVED it and got upset if I tried to pause it so I could ask a question or comment on the scenery.
Jason Kim
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is Churchill's personal chronicle of the great human conflict we've ever witnessed. The book was full of heroism, bravery, comradery and patriotism. It is hard to imagine how many millions of men had to make great sacrifices to live in the world today. We can never repay the debt, but at the very least, we should remember their lives and continue to retell their stories to generations to come.
Wesley Mesquita
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For those who enjoy military history this is a masterpiece! In this collection, Churchill walked along the english backstages of WWII with a detailed set of his own memories and gathered a great set of documents which, together, told us how WWII developed itself. This work also shows the tight connection between political and military decisions leading us to understand how millions of lives can get into into a war in a matter of hours.
John Dobbin
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read every word of the entire 6 volumes. It took over six months but was well worth the effort. History unfolded before my eyes, memo by memo, speech by speech, set-back by set-back, until victory finally prevailed.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection is more an autobiography than a history, but is a must read for everyone with an interest in history. Should then be followed by reading the biography of Churchill by William Mansfield and Paul Reid "The Last Lion."
Tom Fertitta
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Churchill"s perspective is about as close as you get from being in the thick of the build up and eventual war itself. Candid and very insightful , giving the reader a feel for the difficulties of the decisions , right or wrong that had to be made . Very easy to read and entertaining as well .
Robin Logan
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A 6 book series on the Second World War. A must read for anyone interested in this subject. The writing is dry & somewhat pompous, but the detail is fascinating.
Tom Nixon
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
According to Goodreads, I started reading this on February 4th, 2012. I finished it on December 8th, 2017. That's almost six years to get through all twelves volumes of this series and it feels as if an incredible weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

You can say a lot about Churchill and goodness knows people have, but the man could write. I'll be honest though: I have an abridged one volume version of his A History of The English Speaking Peoples knocking around somewhere and
At the beginning of last year, I finally finished Winston S. Churchill's excellent "The Second World War" series (6 vols). I highly recommend it, & I hope my review inspires you to read Churchill's eloquently written history, too:

I'm so thankful for the work Churchill put into recording & writing about the WW2 history that he lived & persevered through. I loved Churchill's courageous, stirring speeches, his vital letters & cables to FDR & many others, the Allies' in-depth co
Tom Keenan
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Churchill was unquestionably right in his warnings about Hitler’s arms buildup and his aggression. (Possibly he read Mein Kampf.) He was inspirational when Britain’s back was against the wall and they had virtually no allies. By his own words it seems that once the final outcome was largely a foregone conclusion (shortly after the US entered the war) he became more problematic (at least for his allies).

In WWI Churchill had been responsible for the debacle that was Gallipoli. In WWII he was cont
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really appreciate the opportunity to read this book - an abridged version of Churchill's long series on World War II. As someone who has been connected to World War II only through family tales, history classes, and movie portrayals it gave me an opportunity to read from the perspective of Britain's leader during those days. I never understood how utterly alone Britain must have felt for the first 2-3 years of the war. Or the reasons why American troops started fighting in North Africa instead ...more
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Alegría de leer: Triunfo y Tragedia 1 6 Jun 10, 2013 10:24AM  

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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, and again from 1951 to 1955. A noted statesman, orator and strategist, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army. A prolific author, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his own historical writings, "for his mastery ...more

Other books in the series

The Second World War (6 books)
  • The Gathering Storm (The Second World War, #1)
  • Their Finest Hour (The Second World War, #2)
  • The Grand Alliance (The Second World War, #3)
  • The Hinge of Fate (The Second World War, #4)
  • Closing the Ring (The Second World War, #5)
  • Triumph and Tragedy (The Second World War, #6)
“In War: Resolution,
In Defeat: Defiance,
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will.”
“I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial... I thought I knew a good deal about it all, I was sure I should not fail.” 55 likes
More quotes…