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A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
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A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,137 ratings  ·  70 reviews
In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg ...more
Paperback, 1208 pages
Published March 28th 2005 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,137 ratings  ·  70 reviews


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John Nevola
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A World At Arms is a masterful scholarly work. At nearly 1,000 pages, it takes on the War in all its nuances. From a geographical viewpoint, it deals with events in countries not normally referenced in most works; i.e. Brazil and India. This single volume book also deals with all aspects of this global war including politics, finance, manufacturing, construction, medicine, military strategy and combat operations.

It is an ambitious endeavor, which covers up its very few warts with a deep and inte
...more
Loring Wirbel
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Offering up a single-volume history of WW2 is a daunting task that has sunk many a would-be historian. Do you focus on diplomacy, niche yourself to cover naval battles of the Southwest Pacific, or limit yourself to cartoon images of the ultimate graphic novel? Weinberg took the unusual approach of going big and broad. There's no real history of the Nazi party, Japanese bushido, or the Holocaust here. Instead, he uses a thousand-some-odd pages to discuss how the war looked from every odd corner o ...more
Luke
This book really should be worth four stars, but the treatment of the Pacific War is shoddy in comparison to the amount of depth given to the war in Europe, so I knocked off a star for that purpose.
Avempace
May 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The most illuminating single volume history of WWII, and one of the very best books on the war, period. It has incisive insights that reemerge in other great books on the war, such as Adam Tooze's the Wages of Destruction: the ultimately futile and vastly destructive and genocidal attempt of a middling power, such as Germany was, to challenge the changing global balance of power vis a vis the US (and USSR). It spends time on fronts and issues that were frequently ignored at the time when the boo ...more
Sandy
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is supposed to be a classic treatment, but I only ground through about half of it before I gave up. Just too dry, and somehow you don't get a feel for events. I'm liking the "Inferno" book much better.
Albion College
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly thorough, global look at the entire timeline of World War II, from what led to the war through its conclusion.

There are several things which are really excellent about this book. The first is that the author looks through tremendous volumes of (often primary) source material to discuss the reasons that actors made decisions--that is, based on what they did or didn't know at the time their decisions were made. In particular, he focuses on how Stalin's understanding of Hitle
...more
Simon
Apr 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Reading the old edition, not the new one. Superb ability to reflect the global nature of WWII and illustrate the way various theatres affected other ones. Not an in-depth military history (will have to read Lidell Hart for that) but very strong as a diplomatic history and as an economic one (at least to the extent necessary to provide understanding of diplomatic motivations.) Does not hide from the issue of atrocities and genocide, and skilfully weaves them into the overall narrative. Devotes a ...more
Eric Suter
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting dissection of the political and military drama of WWII, with its focus more sharply on the political. I found the most interesting aspect of the book to be its careful analysis of the periphery combatants including Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, etc., their motivations, desires, and, ultimately, disasters. At the outset, I had hoped the book would focus more closely on the strategic and tactical aspects of the military engagements but Weinberg rarely delves into those issues ...more
Shane Clancy
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambitious in scope, lacking in heart

In A World At Arms, Weinberg certainly accomplishes his objective to write a truly global history of World War II. This book is ambitiously broad in scope, and is novel in illuminating theaters of the war that are often passed over or ignored in the context of the most major events and developments. While adequately covering the epic conflict at the Eastern Front and the Allied battle against the Axis in North Africa and subsequently Western Europe, there is a
...more
Bill V
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has to be the most unique read I've had regarding World War II. There were a lot of little facts I was not aware of. More of the book deals with political aspects and the thought processes that went into many decisions. The author probably figures most readers would know about the military campaigns and as a result they are not covered in great detail.
There are a few minor mistakes but they don't detract from the reading, at least not to me. The writing style was a bit dry in the beginning
...more
Frederick
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good. Very clear. The writing is smooth and without the clunkiness of so much scholarly work. This is essential for the student of World War II and will not only greatly improve knowledge but also understanding of the military side of things. The author has no ax to grind, no agenda to forward. He simply provides an excellent historical source.
Chip Douglass
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A thorough political and diplomatic history of World War II; descriptions of the actual fighting are truncated. Definitely not a book you can read for fun and you have to bring some knowledge of World War II to the table.
Leonardo
Oct 11, 2017 marked it as considering
Shelves: wwii
Recomendado como crónica general en Europa en Guerra.
Kiko Lobo
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A hot cup of coffee, blanket over me and I'm curled up reading this right here. Great book about the second great war!
Natasha
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm about 400 pages in this book and had to put it down. The content was chock full of exquisite detail and that became a bit too much to bare. The content was very dry and obsessive over every single detail that this book became laborious to read. It also was all over the place chronologically. I highly appreciate the impeccable details in this book but wanted something w/a bit more personality and maybe not as OCD W/information. It was very difficult to find a book that compares to this one. B ...more
Saad Mohammad
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very good comprehensive overview of the struggle as a whole; it won't go into minute details for each specific battle thus if you're looking for more information about the North African campaign or the Russian/German conflict you should probably look for books within that sub genre. What this book is great at, is going in a temporal fashion forwards giving you the events occurring around the world at the same time - which gives the reader a great sense of the chaos and events that ...more
Jim Martin
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Weinberg has produced a monumental work which concentrates mainly on the high diplomatic and strategic aspects of the war. Individuals who only want to read blow by blow accounts of specific campaigns will likely not find this book to be very rewarding. I would encourage anyone who is seriously reading the work to also read the notes, which are gathered at the end of the work, at the same time as some matters are only fully covered in the notes. The bibliography, while now dated, is also well wo ...more
Hank Hoeft
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II certainly lives up to its subtitle. This is a tour de force, one historian's attempt to swim the ocean of literature and primary sources on World War II and write a comprehensive history of the greatest human conflagration in history, that is impressive in its 920 pages of small text, a 24-page bibliographic essay, 180 pages of notes, and 29 pages of maps. Dr. Weinberg not only chronicles the major battles and campaigns of the war, but also ties ...more
Themistocles
Aug 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
This book is breathtaking. I mean, LITERALLY breath-taking. Just try to read it in bed, propped on your chest: I bet you'll start wheezing soon enough. Who prints a single-volume 2kg, 1200-page long book? For the love of god...

Anyway. This was a comment about the physical format, not the content.

...which is not much better, unfortunately; just as stiff and difficult to handle as the book itself. Sure, it was not written yesterday but rather 20 years ago, but 1994 still counts as "modern day" in
...more
Erwin
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For someone not particularly knowledgable about World War history but very fascinated with history/war in general, this is a great book that kept me hooked till the end. Since many historical aspects of the world wars (especially the diplomatic and strategic aspects) are not set in stone but open to interpretation, some opinions of the author are (apparently) debatable. However, as a reader who is eager to learn, it's great to have an author who is not shy about stating his opinions, since this ...more
Gregory
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. The author provides insight into May questions I had long had as well as asking - and answering - many questions I had not thought of, Including:

Why didn't Spain enter the war on the Axis side, considering that the Spanish Civil War was considered the "Dress Rehearsal" for W W II?

Why were Japan and Russia neutral towards each other until the War's closing days?

Why didn't the USA supply Russia via Kamchatka (we did).

What was Finland's role in the war, and how did Finland relate to Naz
...more
Chandan Shivaramu
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I believe the author takes a unique approach in making sure readers are educated about all angles for a WW2 event in this book.
Its like story telling in "memento" way.. its like you are in a lecture hall and get to hear all sides of a conflict.. in a non-flinching way .. at times Weinburg's complex sentences needs frequent re-reading just to grasp the gist of it..sometimes, he skims few of the engagements to describe it in full detail later..
all in all, i felt this is one of the most engaging, e
...more
Balaji
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww2
Its a special way to end the year 2015 as I complete this great book. Its difficult to condense the happenings of 6 eventful years into a book of about a 1000 pages, but the book covers most of them quite well. Details of the treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and the Munich agreement were some of the topics which I felt should have been covered better. On the contrary, there was elaborate explanation regarding the fighting, and since I am not aware of the geography of places like Russi ...more
Stanley Hopcroft
Valuable at least for the discussion of the origin of the second world war and the colour of the new order.

Weinberg asserts, convincingly from my point of view, is that the war was seen by the Axis as solution to various problems involving their rightful place, control if not occupation of countries populated by less worthy people, and the transformation of their own societies into thoroughly materialistic and warrior casts.

Exposing infants on Mt Parnussus ? Far too inefficient for the Third Rei
...more
Abhishek
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww-2
I cannot suggest a book that accounts the world war 2 netter than this.
This work is remarkable and proves the statement "history is always written by the victors" wrong. Gerhard Weinberg is German.
The work is so remarkable and accurate as gives he the references of all his claims as lot of world war 2 documents were made public by western countries. If you want an unadulterated book to read the accounts of WW 2 this is the one.
Author accounts here the decision making process of both allied and a
...more
Chris
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Over 1,000 pages and around 100 footnotes per chapter, one of the experts in English who writes on German foreign policy and German diplomatic history wrote this book. A juggernaut of academic work produced this book that could be easily weaponized by dropping it one someone; yes it is large! Do not fear its size, only is erudition, and the excellent connections it makes between diverse theaters. Now, it is weak on operations, tactical and the military analytically areas; however, one cannot acc ...more
Manuel J.
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a reference book. It is not a book to get detailed description of events/battles but, more useful, it gives the reader a perspective on the background and consequences of the decisions that were made by the political/military leaderships of the conflicting countries. One thing that Weinberg makes quite clear is the global scope of the war, offering also a perspective about the consequences of such war if the the Axis partners were the victor party. We came pretty close to a (politically) ca ...more
AskHistorians
This look at the Second World War is the counter balance to John Keegan's the Second World War. Weinberg looks at the war from a very political and economic standpoint. Living up to the title, Weinberg spends a considerable amount of time looking at various theaters and not just the European and Pacific theaters. The book is heavily footnoted, and well researched. The writing can be a little dry and hard to follow as Weinberg tends to jump from topic to topic. But if you can overcome that it was ...more
Matt
Apr 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a tome (about a 1000 pages), but it covers almost every aspect of World War II. It was very thorough in explaining the events, politics, economics, personalities, and everyday life during this time period. The one thing this book does not do so well is go into detail about the battles. They are described in a very global or general fashion. So if you want to read about battles, you may want to try another source, but if you want to know EVERYTHING else, I found this book very entert ...more
Dave
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A World at Arms provides a really nice, high-level overview of WWII, with its main emphasis on the European conflict. You will not find very much discussion of battle tactics or the intimate details of soldiers' and civilians' experiences in the war. Weinberg focuses on each combatant's decision-making, the relationships between the alliances, and the broad factors that determined the course of the war. In this way, he offers a very valuable overview of the conflict for non-experts looking for a ...more
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Better 1 Volume WW2 History Book 1 1 Mar 05, 2017 03:10PM  
  • A War to be Won: Fighting the Second World War
  • Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan
  • Why the Allies Won
  • The Battle of Kursk
  • Strange Defeat
  • Decision in Normandy
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire
  • The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin`s War with Germany
  • The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West
  • The German Way of War: From the Thirty Years' War to the Third Reich
  • The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War II
  • The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871
  • Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich
  • Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hitler's Most Brilliant General
  • The Pacific War: 1941-1945
  • Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France
  • History of the Second World War
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the history faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1974