The Second World War (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Major histories of World War II, such as Total War: The Story of World War II (1973), by Peter Calvocoressi and Guy Wint, and La Seconde guerre mondiale (1968; The Second World War, 1975), by Henri Michel, tend to follow a pattern. They begin by tracing the origins of the war back through the 1930’s and often to the end of World War I. They then divide the war into manageable segments, such as the basic ones of the European and Pacific theaters, and they periodize their material according to major battles and other “turning points.” The authors enter the narrative to explain or analyze the course of events for the reader. Given the grand scale of events of the greatest war in history, such studies examine only the big picture, discussing major events and decision makers. Though their focus remains invariably the fighting fronts, they also include some explanation of the process of the mobilization of civilian society in their effort to provide a reasonably complete picture of total war.
Martin Gilbert’s 1989 addition to such major works, The Second World War: A Complete History, defies all these conventions in its adherence to what seems the most conventional of all approaches to any subject, a purely narrative history of events from 1939 to 1945. The book begins with the German invasion of Poland in September, 1939, and although it includes two short final chapters examining selected postwar topics, it...
(The entire section is 1567 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1990)
Cook, Don. “War on Earth, Ill Will to Men.” Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 24, 1989, p. 1.
Gilbert, Martin. Holocaust Journey: Travelling in Search of the Past. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
Spector, Ronald H. “Fifty Years Ago: Views of World War II.” The Washington Post, December 10, 1989, p. X13.
Thompson, Larry V. “A War of All Against All: The Shape, Meaning, and Terrible Human Cost of the Second World War.” Chicago Tribune Books, January 7, 1990, p. 1.
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