A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II Paperback – 28 Mar 2005
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From reviews of first edition: 'Few historians could have taken on the daunting challenge of attempting a global history of the Second World War; but Gerhard Weinberg succeeds brilliantly. It is a masterly study which is unlikely to be surpassed.' Ian Kershaw, University of Sheffield
'Weinberg's book is a clearly-written account of events, with enormous … reliable encyclopaedic summaries of anything about which you need to know.' Norman Stone, The Times
'… a remarkable achievement … It certainly deserves to be placed alongside the war histories of John Keegan, Martin Gilbert and A. J. P. Taylor. As a sheer work of reference it outclasses even them.' Andrew Roberts, The Sunday Telegraph
'This is a tour de force; classical diplomatic history at its best. Weinberg's global view of the war pays dividends again and again … '. David Reynolds, New York Times
'This is an extraordinary book … an invaluable source for anyone needing in one place as many ideas as possible about the Second World War … Moral and humane feelings underpin his copious scholarship at every point, giving admirable depth and dimension to this monumental intellectual performance.' The Washington Post
'… fully lives up to its subsidiary title and to the claims made by its publishers. This is a first class strategic history of the war.' The British Army Review
'… a coherent - in fact, hypnotic - narrative offered up in a single, handsome volume … surely the finest one-volume history we have of the most important event of the century.' American Heritage
'… a blockbuster of a survey, grounded, to a remarkable extent for so large a work, in primary sources and also in an evident mastery of the secondary literature. It is a joy to read: lively, vigorous, and...altogether a stylistic gem … [it] offers refreshingly forthright judgments on every major aspect of World War II strategy and policy.' Naval War College Review
Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this is the first history of WWII to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and her colonies following the WWI, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II.See all Product description
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Just one example from dozens within the book, Weinberg criticizes Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's plan for attacking Pearl Harbor, knowing that the US fleet would be at anchor in shallow water so as to minimize the damage and loss of life, even though this attack was Japan's crucial gambit aimed at crippling and demoralizing America's navy in the Pacific, while launching Japan into war with America. He points out that the lack of criticism from Yamamoto's own staff signified an institutional and cultural problem within the Imperial Japanese Navy that stifled brainstorming and analysis of battle plans throughout the war.
Another value of Weinberg's book is its responses to unorthodox, alternative, counterfactual and revisionist arguments about the war, while taking into account evidence that only became publicly available beginning in the 1980s through the early 2000s. He dispels numerous myths about WW2, for example (again, just one among dozens) that Hitler obsessively refused to allow his armies to retreat in the last years of the war, which as Weinberg shows is unsustainable in face of the evidence adduced.
A thorough review of this book would take many paragraphs and thousands of words. I recommend browsing its pages yourself, for I am confident you will find useful conclusions and arguments that will enrich your understanding of the greatest tragedy to have befallen humanity. Highest recommendation.
If you want to know a dozen things that combined to make the cross-channel invasion a success, you will like this book. If you are just interested in hearing about the 101st Airborne, look elsewhere.
If you want to know why the Germans were totally unprepared for the Russian winter of 1941-42, you will like this book. If you think winter is a secret weapon the Russians deploy only when invaded and the Germans were excused from expecting it, look elsewhere (say some skinhead web site).
If you want to know why half the supplies Russia received from the U.S. went across the North Pacific unmolested, you will like this book. If you want thrilling personal tales of the Murmansk run, look elsewhere.
In short, if you are after a strategic, political, economic, and ideological history of World War II, giving you the big picture and explaining why things happened as they did -- the shrewd decisions, blunders, deceptions, constraints, good luck, and bad luck -- you will like this book. If you are looking for tactical history and extensive personal reminiscences, you will be disappointed. This is not to disparage tactical history and personal reminiscences. They are fascinating, but far more so, if placed in the broader context AWAA provides.
As a follow-up to AWAA, Weinberg’s Visions of Victory, detailing the visions of Axis and Allied leaders for a post-war world, is a good read. But read AWAA first.