An absorbing, nonsynthetic series of close-up views of the war's multiple fronts and facets, these 44 essays are drawn from the pages of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, a must-read for practitioners and fans of the flourishing subgenre. The names behind the essays will certainly pique the interest of general readers: Stephen Ambrose, Caleb Carr, Stanley Weintraub and many others. Highlights include Carr on Poland, 1939, and on German ""old-school"" Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt; Ambrose on the 1945 Rhine crossing--over its single remaining bridge--by a lesser-known U.S. division in pursuit of Rundstedt; and former deputy undersecretary of the army Thaddeus Holt on Maj. General Edward P. King Jr., ""The King of Bataan."" Cowley, who edits the What If? book series and is founding editor of MHQ, has chosen judiciously, taking us to Africa, Asia, Guadalcanal and other WWII hot spots. The combination of solid writing and star power has already made this collection a BMOC main selection and a History Book Club alternate; store-based sales won't be far behind. (Mar. 19) Forecast: Despite its size, this collection is anything but bloated and diffuse, and will appeal to readers who don't want to slog through a conventional one-volume history. The contributors' familiarity and respectability will put war-interest browsers over the buy threshold.