Blood, Tears and Folly

BLOOD, TEARS AND FOLLY is a narrative account of the major military and political developments during the first three years of World War II. It provides a useful overview of the factors which enabled Germany and Japan to gain military control over Europe and much of Asia by 1942. Although focused on Great Britain’s role, this account includes extensive discussion of the other major nations involved in the conflict.

Although not a work of original scholarship, Deighton’s work reflects recent research and his wide reading in published sources. He notes, for example, that it was not inevitable that Britain should have continued the war with Germany after France was defeated in 1940. Lord Halifax, who advocated making peace with Germany, very nearly became prime minister in May of 1940, following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. Even after Winston Churchill became prime minister, members of his cabinet, including Halifax, continued to pursue the possibility of a negotiated peace with Germany.

As Deighton is the author of a book on the air combat which became known as the Battle of Britain, it is not surprising that his analysis of a role of air power in determining the outcome of the war is one of the book’s strengths. He also examines the faulty military decisions by Adolf Hitler, often against the wishes of the German high command, which helped the Allies defeat Germany. Although there is little in this book that will be new to professional historians, it is an excellent introduction to World War II for the general reader.