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A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

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In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II. Actions of the Axis, the Allies, and the Neutrals are covered in every theater of the war. More importantly, the global nature of the war is examined, with new insights into how events in one corner of the world helped affect events in often distant areas.


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In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II. Actions of the Axis, the Allies, and the Neutrals are covered in every theater of the war. More importantly, the global nature of the war is examined, with new insights into how events in one corner of the world helped affect events in often distant areas.

30 review for A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Nevola

    A World At Arms is a masterful scholarly work. At nearly 1,000 pages, it takes on the War in all its nuances. From a geographical viewpoint, it deals with events in countries not normally referenced in most works; i.e. Brazil and India. This single volume book also deals with all aspects of this global war including politics, finance, manufacturing, construction, medicine, military strategy and combat operations. It is an ambitious endeavor, which covers up its very few warts with a deep and inte A World At Arms is a masterful scholarly work. At nearly 1,000 pages, it takes on the War in all its nuances. From a geographical viewpoint, it deals with events in countries not normally referenced in most works; i.e. Brazil and India. This single volume book also deals with all aspects of this global war including politics, finance, manufacturing, construction, medicine, military strategy and combat operations. It is an ambitious endeavor, which covers up its very few warts with a deep and interesting treatment of the subject. This book is not for the novice just learning about World War II but rather for the accomplished student for whom this book fills in many of the blanks and unanswered questions of other less ambitious works. The author certainly has strong opinions on some subjects (like the British and German general officers) and doesn't shrink from expressing those opinions but it would be impossible for any historian to remain totally objective in a book this size. I did not find this distracting or objectionable, perhaps because I agreed with most of them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Loring Wirbel

    Offering up a single-volume history of WW2 is a daunting task that has sunk many a would-be historian. Do you focus on diplomacy, niche yourself to cover naval battles of the Southwest Pacific, or limit yourself to cartoon images of the ultimate graphic novel? Weinberg took the unusual approach of going big and broad. There's no real history of the Nazi party, Japanese bushido, or the Holocaust here. Instead, he uses a thousand-some-odd pages to discuss how the war looked from every odd corner o Offering up a single-volume history of WW2 is a daunting task that has sunk many a would-be historian. Do you focus on diplomacy, niche yourself to cover naval battles of the Southwest Pacific, or limit yourself to cartoon images of the ultimate graphic novel? Weinberg took the unusual approach of going big and broad. There's no real history of the Nazi party, Japanese bushido, or the Holocaust here. Instead, he uses a thousand-some-odd pages to discuss how the war looked from every odd corner of the Earth. As a result, we get the history of coups in Romania and Hungary, of the discussion of Madagascar as a possible Jewish concentration camp, of the grueling battles in northern Burma and Annam provinces in India. Weinberg treats the war as a global phenomenon, and gives us a view from the emerging nations of the Third World, and from the smaller nations of Europe. Obviously, this means there is no detailed discussion of diplomacy or battle strategy, but we do get an integrated view of how political expectations and technology evolved in the period between the wars, to give a sense of how the last gasp of authoritarian imperialism came close to overtaking the planet, but was nevertheless discredited from the get-go. For the most part, Weinberg does his job well. I am giving this five stars because the task seemed so impossible while the end result is satisfying, but that does not mean the book is free of faults. Weinberg is the type of historian-geek who loves to enumerate everything, and sometimes gives us numbers within numbers - three reasons the Danes felt they had to cave in to the Nazis, with four causes listed for the second of those reasons, etc. etc. If you try to read this book in a disinterested moment, you might get lost if the outline was not scrawled across a blackboard somewhere. Still, this is a classic "big picture" work - not merely for trying to understand the Axis powers and the allied response, but for grasping how the former colonies responded to the creation of the United Nations, how new weapon technologies allowed a blanket-bombing philosophy that almost amounted to a "genocide by consensus" (not just nuclear weapons, but the strategic bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo). Those who want to adamantly say "Never again" had better understand how evil makes itself manifest on the planet. Despite his scholarly tone, Weinberg is unafraid of using a word like "evil" when it is appropriate to do so.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ekul

    This book really should be worth four stars, but the treatment of the Pacific War is shoddy in comparison to the amount of depth given to the war in Europe, so I knocked off a star for that purpose.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Avempace

    The most illuminating single volume history of WWII, and one of the very best books on the war, period. It has incisive insights that reemerge in other great books on the war, such as Adam Tooze's the Wages of Destruction: the ultimately futile and vastly destructive and genocidal attempt of a middling power, such as Germany was, to challenge the changing global balance of power vis a vis the US (and USSR). It spends time on fronts and issues that were frequently ignored at the time when the boo The most illuminating single volume history of WWII, and one of the very best books on the war, period. It has incisive insights that reemerge in other great books on the war, such as Adam Tooze's the Wages of Destruction: the ultimately futile and vastly destructive and genocidal attempt of a middling power, such as Germany was, to challenge the changing global balance of power vis a vis the US (and USSR). It spends time on fronts and issues that were frequently ignored at the time when the book was first published, especially as relates to the Eastern front as well as other less known areas of the conflict. Political, diplomatic, economic as well as military matters are weaved into one seamless tapestry. You read about the great battles of the war, and then learn about the critical battles that were not waged, such as the would have been conquest of Madagascar by the Japanese that never was. One learns about the industrial might harnessed by the allies in service of the war effort, and realizes the untenable position of the axis powers. An exercise typical of Weinberg, and one of my very favorite sections of the book, relates to his analysis of the Russian counterattack in the titanic 1941 battle of Moscow, perhaps the most decisive moment of the entire war. He takes the impatient reader on a long detour that details the political and diplomatic background of that culminating event, before finally turning to the unfolding attack itself. This exercise, repeated in different forms throughout the book, impresses on the reader the global nature of the conflict. The fact is that the military and political leaderships of the respective countries saw it as such: a global conflict, with events in one theater of war impacting others in real time. For the military enthusiasts, this is not a tactical military history of the war, although the military struggles are naturally addressed and do form the center of gravity of the narrative. Such readers would be better served by books that deal with military events in individual theaters of conflict. For those seeking a deeper understanding of the war, the rationale for its unfolding events and the inevitability of its outcome, they can hardly be better served by another tome on the subject. Very highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is supposed to be a classic treatment, but I only ground through about half of it before I gave up. Just too dry, and somehow you don't get a feel for events. I'm liking the "Inferno" book much better. This is supposed to be a classic treatment, but I only ground through about half of it before I gave up. Just too dry, and somehow you don't get a feel for events. I'm liking the "Inferno" book much better.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Albion College

    This is an incredibly thorough, global look at the entire timeline of World War II, from what led to the war through its conclusion. There are several things which are really excellent about this book. The first is that the author looks through tremendous volumes of (often primary) source material to discuss the reasons that actors made decisions--that is, based on what they did or didn't know at the time their decisions were made. In particular, he focuses on how Stalin's understanding of Hitle This is an incredibly thorough, global look at the entire timeline of World War II, from what led to the war through its conclusion. There are several things which are really excellent about this book. The first is that the author looks through tremendous volumes of (often primary) source material to discuss the reasons that actors made decisions--that is, based on what they did or didn't know at the time their decisions were made. In particular, he focuses on how Stalin's understanding of Hitler as a capitalist affected Stalin's early policy decisions, and how Japanese and American views of each other, particularly in the early months of the conflict in the Pacific theater, tremendously shaped political and military choices those nations made. The second thing which really makes this a book worth reading is the thoroughness of the author's background reading and footnotes. It is a treasure trove for the reader who is looking for additional sources. Finally, although it's quite long, the book is very enjoyable to read. It is distinctly academic in tone, but written engagingly enough that interested non-historians (like me) and students of any major with an interest in the subject matter will not find themselves overwhelmed. -Megan O'Neill

  7. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Reading the old edition, not the new one. Superb ability to reflect the global nature of WWII and illustrate the way various theatres affected other ones. Not an in-depth military history (will have to read Lidell Hart for that) but very strong as a diplomatic history and as an economic one (at least to the extent necessary to provide understanding of diplomatic motivations.) Does not hide from the issue of atrocities and genocide, and skilfully weaves them into the overall narrative. Devotes a Reading the old edition, not the new one. Superb ability to reflect the global nature of WWII and illustrate the way various theatres affected other ones. Not an in-depth military history (will have to read Lidell Hart for that) but very strong as a diplomatic history and as an economic one (at least to the extent necessary to provide understanding of diplomatic motivations.) Does not hide from the issue of atrocities and genocide, and skilfully weaves them into the overall narrative. Devotes a lot of attention to the home front, which is appropriate. Stresses ideoligical motivations of Hitler without much debate regarding them, which is the main disappointment, along with a fairly one-dimensional portrayal of FDR.

  8. 5 out of 5

    S.

    possibly deserves the 4/5 but the market of world war II literature is saturated... with classics. take Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 5/5, The German War: A Nation Under Arms 4/5, The Third Reich at War 4/5, The Second World War 4/5. spend your hard earned brass on these... Weinberg's tome is lengthy. it is, to a slight degree, marred by multiple constant in-paragraph reference "and this will be discussed further shortly". style was fine, work was competent, but really the only problem is possibly deserves the 4/5 but the market of world war II literature is saturated... with classics. take Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 5/5, The German War: A Nation Under Arms 4/5, The Third Reich at War 4/5, The Second World War 4/5. spend your hard earned brass on these... Weinberg's tome is lengthy. it is, to a slight degree, marred by multiple constant in-paragraph reference "and this will be discussed further shortly". style was fine, work was competent, but really the only problem is that it's in a class of aces... I guess I should give it the 4/5 but there's also the desire to keep the top scores for the true top reads. comprehensive. covered both fronts.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Over 1,000 pages and around 100 footnotes per chapter, one of the experts in English who writes on German foreign policy and German diplomatic history wrote this book. A juggernaut of academic work produced this book that could be easily weaponized by dropping it one someone; yes it is large! Do not fear its size, only is erudition, and the excellent connections it makes between diverse theaters. Now, it is weak on operations, tactical and the military analytically areas; however, one cannot acc Over 1,000 pages and around 100 footnotes per chapter, one of the experts in English who writes on German foreign policy and German diplomatic history wrote this book. A juggernaut of academic work produced this book that could be easily weaponized by dropping it one someone; yes it is large! Do not fear its size, only is erudition, and the excellent connections it makes between diverse theaters. Now, it is weak on operations, tactical and the military analytically areas; however, one cannot accomplish all things. Its analysis of world politics and foreign policy is well worth it. This is one of the books any serious student should read. For those beginning their study it will catch them up quickly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eric Suter

    An interesting dissection of the political and military drama of WWII, with its focus more sharply on the political. I found the most interesting aspect of the book to be its careful analysis of the periphery combatants including Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, etc., their motivations, desires, and, ultimately, disasters. At the outset, I had hoped the book would focus more closely on the strategic and tactical aspects of the military engagements but Weinberg rarely delves into those issues An interesting dissection of the political and military drama of WWII, with its focus more sharply on the political. I found the most interesting aspect of the book to be its careful analysis of the periphery combatants including Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, etc., their motivations, desires, and, ultimately, disasters. At the outset, I had hoped the book would focus more closely on the strategic and tactical aspects of the military engagements but Weinberg rarely delves into those issues. All in all, a good, single-volume, general history of WWII. It is, however, not the only book one must read to appreciate the full scope of the conflict, its causes, effects, and conduct.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    I was considering what to say about this book. What comes after magisterial? What is more comprehensive and exhaustive than comprehensive and exhaustive. In close to fifty years of reading history, especially military history, I have never felt such a sense of awe at the scholarship in a book. Not only is the scholarship sound, the inferences and conclusions are nuanced and subtle while remaining clear and cogent. The book is not just well-written but elegantly written. We all sometimes joke about I was considering what to say about this book. What comes after magisterial? What is more comprehensive and exhaustive than comprehensive and exhaustive. In close to fifty years of reading history, especially military history, I have never felt such a sense of awe at the scholarship in a book. Not only is the scholarship sound, the inferences and conclusions are nuanced and subtle while remaining clear and cogent. The book is not just well-written but elegantly written. We all sometimes joke about wanting to give more than five stars in a review, this is the first book I can recall which actually deserves it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    This look at the Second World War is the counter balance to John Keegan's the Second World War. Weinberg looks at the war from a very political and economic standpoint. Living up to the title, Weinberg spends a considerable amount of time looking at various theaters and not just the European and Pacific theaters. The book is heavily footnoted, and well researched. The writing can be a little dry and hard to follow as Weinberg tends to jump from topic to topic. But if you can overcome that it was This look at the Second World War is the counter balance to John Keegan's the Second World War. Weinberg looks at the war from a very political and economic standpoint. Living up to the title, Weinberg spends a considerable amount of time looking at various theaters and not just the European and Pacific theaters. The book is heavily footnoted, and well researched. The writing can be a little dry and hard to follow as Weinberg tends to jump from topic to topic. But if you can overcome that it was one of the best histories of the Second World War from a global perspective.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shane Clancy

    Ambitious in scope, lacking in heart In A World At Arms, Weinberg certainly accomplishes his objective to write a truly global history of World War II. This book is ambitiously broad in scope, and is novel in illuminating theaters of the war that are often passed over or ignored in the context of the most major events and developments. While adequately covering the epic conflict at the Eastern Front and the Allied battle against the Axis in North Africa and subsequently Western Europe, there is a Ambitious in scope, lacking in heart In A World At Arms, Weinberg certainly accomplishes his objective to write a truly global history of World War II. This book is ambitiously broad in scope, and is novel in illuminating theaters of the war that are often passed over or ignored in the context of the most major events and developments. While adequately covering the epic conflict at the Eastern Front and the Allied battle against the Axis in North Africa and subsequently Western Europe, there is also due attention paid to developments in, for example, Latin America, China, Nazi vassal states in Eastern Europe and India, which are often left on the periphery of war narratives, if referenced at all. I confess that before reading this work, despite having read a great deal of World War II history, I was surprised to read of Brazilian and Mexican expeditionary forces sent to Europe and the Pacific, respectively, while I learned more than I had in other works of political and military developments in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. It is challenging to comprehensively narrate such a broad scope in less than 1,000 pages, and so at times Weinberg's coverage of certain developments appears cursory at best. Weinberg also gives a factual account, and the dryness of the text will fail to enthuse even the most avid WWII enthusiasts. Personalities are replaced by dispassionate descriptions of key decisions and events as they took place between nation states acting under logically thought out rationalizations for their role in the conflict. Nonetheless, the work deserves credit for being a well researched and concise history of a war which truly spanned the globe and deserves to be understood in that context.

  14. 4 out of 5

    M.

    A first rate piece of scholarship and an excellent condensation of six years of diplomatic and military command history into ~900 pages of narrative text. A World At Arms filled in several gaps in my knowledge, particularly of the war between the Allies and Japan. The importance of places such as Port Moresby and Rabaul was finally made clear to me. The bibliographic essay and notes are first rate. The book is definitely a keeper, and will be my key reference point on the war as I dig into detail A first rate piece of scholarship and an excellent condensation of six years of diplomatic and military command history into ~900 pages of narrative text. A World At Arms filled in several gaps in my knowledge, particularly of the war between the Allies and Japan. The importance of places such as Port Moresby and Rabaul was finally made clear to me. The bibliographic essay and notes are first rate. The book is definitely a keeper, and will be my key reference point on the war as I dig into details in the future. So, why not 5 stars? Because the included maps (never mentioned in the text) lack detail and do not aid the narrative. And most importantly, because the writing style is fitting for a scholarly monograph (which the book is), but tough going for the general reader. For example, the following sentence from page 772 of the 2005 edition: "As if these direct effects of the bombing offensive, which greatly reduced the number of submarines that could be produced and delayed the delivery of those actually produced, were not enough, there was the even more dramatic indirect effect." This is a paragraph closer, apparently intended as a transition to the next paragraph. But the entire next paragraph must be read before the 'indirect effect' can be understood. Sentences like this crop up every few pages. Which makes the book impossible for me to recommend without reservations. And 'recommend without reservations' is my 5 star standard.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frederick

    Very good. Very clear. The writing is smooth and without the clunkiness of so much scholarly work. This is essential for the student of World War II and will not only greatly improve knowledge but also understanding of the military side of things. The author has no ax to grind, no agenda to forward. He simply provides an excellent historical source.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bill Taylor

    The book is massive and a slog to get through. Took two months of small bites to read it. I rate it high because of the impressive scholarship behind it, the stunning scope of what it covers, and the periodic insights proffered by the author. It is hardly a “page turner” and not for the novice to undertake. However reading this very long and often dry study is worth the journey.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex Miller

    A thorough political and diplomatic history of World War II; descriptions of the actual fighting are truncated. Definitely not a book you can read for fun and you have to bring some knowledge of World War II to the table.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kiko Lobo

    A hot cup of coffee, blanket over me and I'm curled up reading this right here. Great book about the second great war! A hot cup of coffee, blanket over me and I'm curled up reading this right here. Great book about the second great war!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rok Šabjan

    Great book, loved strategic insights and inter-connectedness of events all around the globe. A bit difficult to work through, quite a scholarly work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Prashant gupta

    A masterpiece for World war -2. The author provides information without deviating from the facts.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    I'm about 400 pages in this book and had to put it down. The content was chock full of exquisite detail and that became a bit too much to bare. The content was very dry and obsessive over every single detail that this book became laborious to read. It also was all over the place chronologically. I highly appreciate the impeccable details in this book but wanted something w/a bit more personality and maybe not as OCD W/information. It was very difficult to find a book that compares to this one. B I'm about 400 pages in this book and had to put it down. The content was chock full of exquisite detail and that became a bit too much to bare. The content was very dry and obsessive over every single detail that this book became laborious to read. It also was all over the place chronologically. I highly appreciate the impeccable details in this book but wanted something w/a bit more personality and maybe not as OCD W/information. It was very difficult to find a book that compares to this one. But I have found it in Max Hastings, "Inferno." Finally an author who talks about crucial details but without the dryness and over obsessing of them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Saad Mohammad

    This book is a very good comprehensive overview of the struggle as a whole; it won't go into minute details for each specific battle thus if you're looking for more information about the North African campaign or the Russian/German conflict you should probably look for books within that sub genre. What this book is great at, is going in a temporal fashion forwards giving you the events occurring around the world at the same time - which gives the reader a great sense of the chaos and events that This book is a very good comprehensive overview of the struggle as a whole; it won't go into minute details for each specific battle thus if you're looking for more information about the North African campaign or the Russian/German conflict you should probably look for books within that sub genre. What this book is great at, is going in a temporal fashion forwards giving you the events occurring around the world at the same time - which gives the reader a great sense of the chaos and events that leaders had to deal with simultaneously. It also makes sure to mention incidents that haven't really made the realm of popular knowledge such as the Japanese plans to send suicide squads to Santa Barbara to destroy the Lockheed factory or the role of the "neutrals" in the war effort on both sides. The ideological forces driving each power are also examined which is great because it helps the reader understand exactly why things went the way they did. The last chapter is particular somber when the author goes over the numbers and statistics of the war effort with casualties, tonnage sunk in the water and lives lost to friendly fire. Passages on propaganda are also especially pertinent; would strongly recommend this book to anyone trying to understand the nature of geopolitics and how the current international framework was created.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jim Martin

    Weinberg has produced a monumental work which concentrates mainly on the high diplomatic and strategic aspects of the war. Individuals who only want to read blow by blow accounts of specific campaigns will likely not find this book to be very rewarding. I would encourage anyone who is seriously reading the work to also read the notes, which are gathered at the end of the work, at the same time as some matters are only fully covered in the notes. The bibliography, while now dated, is also well wo Weinberg has produced a monumental work which concentrates mainly on the high diplomatic and strategic aspects of the war. Individuals who only want to read blow by blow accounts of specific campaigns will likely not find this book to be very rewarding. I would encourage anyone who is seriously reading the work to also read the notes, which are gathered at the end of the work, at the same time as some matters are only fully covered in the notes. The bibliography, while now dated, is also well worth reading, especially his comments concerning the official documents produced during the war by the major and minor powers. As a librarian I appreciated his call for the preservation of the original source materials before they are lost to future scholars due to the ravages of time. Some reviewers have pointed out that Weinberg has a tendency to explain certain historical ambiguities as referring to the incomplete nature of the historical record due to the still closed nature of many of the archives in Russia. This cannot be avoided, but it also points out one problem with Weinberg's presentation, in my opinion, which is that he sometimes is repetitive; he almost never misses the opportunity to slam writers such as David Irving who maintain that Hitler was willing to cut a deal with England by obliquely referring to them when discussing the V weapons program. Still the work is highly readable, but also authoritative and even has instances of rare humor, such as when we are told the story of the German band leader, captured at Stalingrad, who ended an early bandmaster in the Chinese PLA. Weinberg is strongest in his coverage of the European campaigns although he presents a good overview of how the European, Pacific, South Asian and Near Eastern campaigns interacted especially during the crucial period from May of 1942 through July of 1943. At the beginning of this period the Axis powers had their one chance to coordinate strategies in an attempt to geographically divide the Allies. This chance was not taken since the Germans decided to pursue the Stalingrad and Caucases campaign instead of securing the Central Mediterranean Sea and driving into the Middle East, and the Japanese decided to move against Midway and try to cut off Australia instead of driving into the Indian Ocean. By the end of July, 1943 the Anglo-American allies and the Soviets would begin to exert simultaneous pressure on Germany so that any attempt by that power to defeat its enemies would be lost. A minor quibble, the work could have profited by being read by weapons subject matter experts. U-236 is not used to produce the fissile U-235. Also, although the Royal Navy did some preliminary work on the concept of angled deck carriers during the course of the war the first such experiment was not carried out until after its end. These are minor errors and do not detract from the overall value of the work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hank Hoeft

    A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II certainly lives up to its subtitle. This is a tour de force, one historian's attempt to swim the ocean of literature and primary sources on World War II and write a comprehensive history of the greatest human conflagration in history, that is impressive in its 920 pages of small text, a 24-page bibliographic essay, 180 pages of notes, and 29 pages of maps. Dr. Weinberg not only chronicles the major battles and campaigns of the war, but also ties A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II certainly lives up to its subtitle. This is a tour de force, one historian's attempt to swim the ocean of literature and primary sources on World War II and write a comprehensive history of the greatest human conflagration in history, that is impressive in its 920 pages of small text, a 24-page bibliographic essay, 180 pages of notes, and 29 pages of maps. Dr. Weinberg not only chronicles the major battles and campaigns of the war, but also ties together the political and strategic thinking that was behind the fighting, and does an admirable job of showing the interconnectedness of all these events--for example, how fighting in the Aleutian Islands affected the campaigning in North Africa. Of course, even with such a voluminous account of the war, the global and top-down perspective that focuses on world leaders, generals, and admirals rather than the individual soldier or sailor, means that there is no room for minute details and individual stories. But there are hundreds of books on individual battles and experiences of individuals. What makes Gerhard's history valuable is his intent to show how all these global events fit together into one narrative. About the only criticism that occurred to me as I read A World at Arms is that I needed to read several chapters before I got used to Dr. Gerhard's writing style. (Dr. Gerhard was born in Germany--maybe that explains his Germanic sentence structure.) At first his writing struck me as somewhat dry--not as readable as, say Shelby Foote's history of the American Civil War--but then I got caught up in the book's sweeping scope, or else I just adjusted to the cadence of his style. This is an excellent one-volume education in World War II--what happened, why it happened, and how it all fit together as one colossal event. I'm not sure it would be a good volume for someone who doesn't know a lot about World War II to start with--I think a reader has to already be familiar with the broad events of the War to get the most out of A World at Arms --but I do think it should be included in a list of books on World War II that are considered essential to understanding it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Themistocles

    This book is breathtaking. I mean, LITERALLY breath-taking. Just try to read it in bed, propped on your chest: I bet you'll start wheezing soon enough. Who prints a single-volume 2kg, 1200-page long book? For the love of god... Anyway. This was a comment about the physical format, not the content. ...which is not much better, unfortunately; just as stiff and difficult to handle as the book itself. Sure, it was not written yesterday but rather 20 years ago, but 1994 still counts as "modern day" in This book is breathtaking. I mean, LITERALLY breath-taking. Just try to read it in bed, propped on your chest: I bet you'll start wheezing soon enough. Who prints a single-volume 2kg, 1200-page long book? For the love of god... Anyway. This was a comment about the physical format, not the content. ...which is not much better, unfortunately; just as stiff and difficult to handle as the book itself. Sure, it was not written yesterday but rather 20 years ago, but 1994 still counts as "modern day" in my book. Well, the content is definitely "modern day"-style. I have the utmost respect for any author who tries to tackle the small issue of the entire WWII. It's hard enough to pull it all together and make a narrative out of it. Weinberg does a great job in that. Make an *exciting* narrative out of it, though - ah, that's another story. Imagine sitting in a university auditorium in the fifties or sixties and listening to an old professor mumbling, "and when did the attack in Ardennes start? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?". You get the idea. Weinberg constantly breaks the narrative with comments like "as we will discuss in chapter xx", "this issue has not been discussed properly", "as we showed 800 pages ago" which forces the student - sorry, reader, to roll their eyes once more before yawning (once more). The fact that there's not a single photo in the entire book (seriously???) and a bunch of basic maps thrown all together towards the end of the book just confirms the work's style... Frankly, one of the handful of books I didn't finish. Too bad...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erwin

    For someone not particularly knowledgable about World War history but very fascinated with history/war in general, this is a great book that kept me hooked till the end. Since many historical aspects of the world wars (especially the diplomatic and strategic aspects) are not set in stone but open to interpretation, some opinions of the author are (apparently) debatable. However, as a reader who is eager to learn, it's great to have an author who is not shy about stating his opinions, since this For someone not particularly knowledgable about World War history but very fascinated with history/war in general, this is a great book that kept me hooked till the end. Since many historical aspects of the world wars (especially the diplomatic and strategic aspects) are not set in stone but open to interpretation, some opinions of the author are (apparently) debatable. However, as a reader who is eager to learn, it's great to have an author who is not shy about stating his opinions, since this gives us a starting point to visualize and analyze the wars. It's good to have a story come alive and become memorable, before we perhaps move on to other books that elaborate upon the nuances in a purely non-biased academic way. That said, I remain convinced by the author's take on it, and see no immediate reason to look elsewhere. The author's long unwieldy sentences takes some getting used to, but I ended up enjoying it. It's a book that's meant to be digested slowly anyway. Taking this book with you on a beach vacation is probably a terrible idea, since you need constant access to online maps. That said, the amount of geography I was exposed to looking up maps for this book was as satisfying as the amount of history I learnt.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gregory

    Excellent. The author provides insight into May questions I had long had as well as asking - and answering - many questions I had not thought of, Including: Why didn't Spain enter the war on the Axis side, considering that the Spanish Civil War was considered the "Dress Rehearsal" for W W II? Why were Japan and Russia neutral towards each other until the War's closing days? Why didn't the USA supply Russia via Kamchatka (we did). What was Finland's role in the war, and how did Finland relate to Naz Excellent. The author provides insight into May questions I had long had as well as asking - and answering - many questions I had not thought of, Including: Why didn't Spain enter the war on the Axis side, considering that the Spanish Civil War was considered the "Dress Rehearsal" for W W II? Why were Japan and Russia neutral towards each other until the War's closing days? Why didn't the USA supply Russia via Kamchatka (we did). What was Finland's role in the war, and how did Finland relate to Nazi Germany? Was Sweden truely neutral, and why? Why didn't Germany attack Switzerland? How and when and why did Italy try to exit the war? Most importantly the author looks at the war holistically, showing events in one theater of the war affected events in other theaters. He also shows the impact of the intelligence activities on the battles, and offers scathing opinions of the impact of intelligence failures. All in all a very engrossing read for anybody wanting to go beyond the headlines.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chandan Shivaramu

    I believe the author takes a unique approach in making sure readers are educated about all angles for a WW2 event in this book. Its like story telling in "memento" way.. its like you are in a lecture hall and get to hear all sides of a conflict.. in a non-flinching way .. at times Weinburg's complex sentences needs frequent re-reading just to grasp the gist of it..sometimes, he skims few of the engagements to describe it in full detail later.. all in all, i felt this is one of the most engaging, e I believe the author takes a unique approach in making sure readers are educated about all angles for a WW2 event in this book. Its like story telling in "memento" way.. its like you are in a lecture hall and get to hear all sides of a conflict.. in a non-flinching way .. at times Weinburg's complex sentences needs frequent re-reading just to grasp the gist of it..sometimes, he skims few of the engagements to describe it in full detail later.. all in all, i felt this is one of the most engaging, entertaining and mesmerising book about WW2 not because of the authority of the content.. but for the sheer pleasure of reading it with awe and sadness. I've managed to read few others (not completely)..but this tops my list as it just gives you a perspective which is authenticated by all the later evidences got from the WW2 archives as late as 2000's. Verdict: Must read for a WW2 fanatic.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Balaji

    Its a special way to end the year 2015 as I complete this great book. Its difficult to condense the happenings of 6 eventful years into a book of about a 1000 pages, but the book covers most of them quite well. Details of the treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and the Munich agreement were some of the topics which I felt should have been covered better. On the contrary, there was elaborate explanation regarding the fighting, and since I am not aware of the geography of places like Russi Its a special way to end the year 2015 as I complete this great book. Its difficult to condense the happenings of 6 eventful years into a book of about a 1000 pages, but the book covers most of them quite well. Details of the treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and the Munich agreement were some of the topics which I felt should have been covered better. On the contrary, there was elaborate explanation regarding the fighting, and since I am not aware of the geography of places like Russia, South East Asia and North Africa I did not care which army attacked from which direction and near which river. I have referred different sources to improve my knowledge on World War II such as documentaries, English, German and Russian movies but I still learnt a lot from this book and how the happenings of the war changed the world in the coming years.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stanley Hopcroft

    Valuable at least for the discussion of the origin of the second world war and the colour of the new order. Weinberg asserts, convincingly from my point of view, is that the war was seen by the Axis as solution to various problems involving their rightful place, control if not occupation of countries populated by less worthy people, and the transformation of their own societies into thoroughly materialistic and warrior casts. Exposing infants on Mt Parnussus ? Far too inefficient for the Third Rei Valuable at least for the discussion of the origin of the second world war and the colour of the new order. Weinberg asserts, convincingly from my point of view, is that the war was seen by the Axis as solution to various problems involving their rightful place, control if not occupation of countries populated by less worthy people, and the transformation of their own societies into thoroughly materialistic and warrior casts. Exposing infants on Mt Parnussus ? Far too inefficient for the Third Reich. Not a happy story but puts to sleep the pretexts and the lies (Versailles) and explains why unconditional surrender and the refusal (with some help from Mr Philby and the KGB) to deal with the German resistance.

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