World War II: A Short History by Norman Stone

There have been hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of pages written about World War II. Every aspect of it has been studied – everything from the types of weapons to the battles to the major personalities to the common soldier or sailor. However, it is a unique person who can describe all of this in a short history. Norman Stone has attempted to do this in his book World War Two: A Short History.

Stone traces the normal course of a short history of the war: how the damages forced on the Germans after World War I were the embers that lit the fires of World War II, the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, the initial victories of the Axis Powers in Europe and Asia, the Allied counterattacks and eventual victory, and the beginnings of the Cold War and the United Nations.

Although Stone includes all of the standard material of a short history, he also includes some interesting insights into the war. For example, Stone’s descriptions of the major personalities are accurate. He describes British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery as “peppery, vain, and a man for endless detail.” Roosevelt is described as charismatic, but calculating. However, not all of his insights are very clear. For instance, his assertion that the European war turned into a world war because of the Italian occupation of Tobruk is rather confusing.

A major flaw of the book is the lack of maps. This is especially evident in the descriptions of the Russian Front. Stone’s descriptions require the reader to have more than a rudimentary knowledge of Russian geography.

Although not for the novice reader, Stone’s book brings forth some interesting insights into World War II.


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