Jan 18 2008

The Second World War by Martin Gilbert

Except perhaps for Iris Chang’s *The Rape of Nanking*, no other book I have read captures the horror and brutality of World War II like this one. Martin’s trademark style is historical narrative intermingled with individual stories and anecdotes, and it is the individual accounts, replete with documented proper names and direct quotes, that convey the proper note of atrocity committed by the Axis Powers. There are daily accounts of Holocaust victims that should be enough to refute any Holocaust denier, and there are also recorded acts of selfless courage and heroism. No other book I have read on this subject expresses to this extent the madness perpetrated in the last century by two of the most powerful and advanced nations in the world. This is not a book for students of tactics and military strategy a la John Keegan, this is a memorial of human suffering in the most horrendous war ever fought. It is not exactly exciting, but it is appropriately appalling.

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