The American Heritage New History of WWII

Stephen E. Ambrose, Author, C. L. Sulzberger, Author Viking Books $60 (640p) ISBN 978-0-670-87474-3
Sulzberger's text for the first version (1966) of this lavishly illustrated history was intended for general readers who had direct experience with the Second World War. It sold nearly one million copies. Ambrose's updating facilitates understanding for a later generation to whom events between 1939 and 1945 are the stuff of cable TV. Without overstating its lines of argument, the book makes a solid case for the war as a three-way ideological struggle among fascism, communism and democracy, with the ""grand alliance"" against Hitler being essentially a relationship of convenience. Victory over the Axis, Ambrose and Sulzberger demonstrate, was assisted by a series of avoidable Japanese and German mistakes, but it was by no means assured. Ultimately, public morale, political sophistication and hard fighting were needed to overcome enemies committed in principle and practice to total war. The superior arms of the Allies were not in themselves decisive, the authors argue, given the complications faced in their deployment. A particular strength of this volume, in fact, is its emphasis on the problems of transporting men and munitions to where they were needed, whether in North Africa, Russia or the South Pacific. Campaigns and battles, presented from both front-line and headquarters perspectives, are competently summarized, and all the text is boosted considerably by the book's chief selling point, a striking collection of 720 photos and illustrations (many in color; some seen by PW). While of limited use to scholars and specialists, for general readers this was, and still is, a solid introduction to an enormously complex subject. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Acrobat Ebook Reader - 640 pages - 978-1-58824-421-5
Paperback - 640 pages - 978-1-4165-0490-0
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