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All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 von [Hastings, Max]
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All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945 Kindle Edition

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"This is the book he was born to write: a work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written!.. he writes with a wonderfully clear, unsentimental eye!!and has a terrific grasp of the grand sweep and military strategy!!But what makes his book a compelling read are the human stories!!at the end of this gruesome, chilling but quite magnificent book, you never doubt that the war was worth fighting". Sunday Times "No other general history of the war amalgamates so successfully the gut-wrenching personal details and the essential strategic arguments. Melding the worm's eye view and the big picture is a difficult trick to pull of -- but Hastings has triumphed". The Times "majestic!it is impossible to emerge without a sense of the sheer scale of human tragedy!..To gather all these anecdotes together is a task in itself, but to assemble them in a way that makes sense is something entirely different!.Hastings shapes all these stories, almost miraculously, into a single coherent narrative". Daily Telegraph "In this massive work, the crowning volume of the 10 impressive books he has written about the Second World War, Sir Max Hastings spares us nothing in portraying the sheer bloody savagery of the worst war that the world has yet seen!.this magnificent book!.is hypnotically readable from the first page to the last". Sunday Telegraph "a fast-moving, highly readable survey of the entire war!Hastings combines a mastery of the military events with invariably sound judgment and a sharp eye for unusual telling detail!.this is military history at its most gripping. Of all Max Hastings's valuable books, this is possibly his best -- a veritable tour de force". Evening Standard


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From one of our finest historians, a magisterial account of the most terrible event in history – World War II.

The horror of World War II touched the lives of millions across the globe. Few could find the words to describe it, only that the carnage they experienced resembled ‘all hell let loose’.

The eminent historian Max Hastings here encapsulates life through war for the ordinary people involved –soldiers, sailors and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad: Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews. This ‘everyman’s story’ employs top-down analysis and bottom-up testimony to reveal the meaning of this vast conflict and ultimately answer the question ‘what was World War II like?’.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 59191 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 748 Seiten
  • Verlag: HarperPress (29. September 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0007338090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007338092
  • ASIN: B005E8A17A
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Aktiviert
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen 2 Kundenrezensionen
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I believe that the most dominant feature about this book is the human factor, how the most varied people experienced this awful happening. To achieve this, the author brilliantly floods this horrible thrilling reading with hundreds of well researched participant accounts. Personally, I had sometimes the feeling of being on the battlefield with the advantage of not having to fire a shot or being fired upon, so intense and vibrant was the description of waging war and its human suffering.

Nevertheless, Sir Max Hasting always knew how to interconnect the overwhelming flow of events so the reader could easily get a good picture of every aspect of the war as a whole, everything backed up by a massive knowledge and impartiality. Some accusing him of being biased would feel very much deceived in this book. There is in fact, in so many situations, an open discussion which focuses on the understanding of some varied and different opinions.

Superbly written and very well balanced, this book delivers the essentials a one volume book about the Second World War can deliver, not forgetting important numbers and statistics, or the casual lecture about armament or character study.
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Great book. Interesting and fun to read. History lesson at it's best. A real page turner. One of the Best Books I read about the second World war.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.6 von 5 Sternen 348 Rezensionen
351 von 367 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent ! 1. November 2011
Von Paul Gelman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
What is the reason that the Second World War is still a magnet for readers, laymen or professional historians? According to Mr. Hastings, this is so because it was the most
disastrous event in the human history. Did you know, for example, that 27000 people perished daily between September 1939 and August 1945?
This book is mainly about the human experience, in what is called the bottom-up approach to history. Although the military theaters are not neglected at all, they appear here and are described through the lens of the common people or the soldiers who took part in the various scenes of this conflict. The main question posed by Mr. Hastings is: what was the Second World War all about? The answer is grim and, in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, it "concerned mainly stupidity, lies, arrogance and pomposity". Take into consideration the fact that 168000 Russian
Civilians were executed during the war because of cowardice or desertion. Many more thousands suffered the same fate without due process.
Hunger was rampant in many parts of the world, especially throughout the British Empire, where one million were to die in Bengal, and many other famines would break out in Kenya or Egypt. Cannibalism cases which happened in Russia are as well described and it is the author's conclusion that the German army lost because its aims were unrealistic and its forces overstretched. One Russian soldier, Stepan Kuznetsov, wrote that in during the Leningrad siege," all out soldiers on the front look like ghouls-emaciated by hunger and cold. They are in rags, filthy and very, very hungry".
The Wermacht's combat performance remained superior to that of the Red Army until the end of the war, in almost every local action the Germans inflicted more casualties than they received. But their tactical skills no longer sufficed to stem the Russian tide. Stalin was identifying good generals, building vast armires with formidable tank and artillery strength, and at last receiving large deliveries from the Western Allies, including food, vehicles and communications equipment. As Mr. Hastings writes, "the five million tons of American meat that eventually eached Russia amounted to half a pound of rations a day for every Soviet soldier".
There are some myths which are demolished by this book. One of them concerns the so-called exuberant enthusiasm of kamikaze pilots who fought the Americans. Another myth concerns the question-or reason-why the Allies did not bomb the concentration camps during the Holocaust. The guerrilla war against the Axis occupiers, promoted by Allied secret organizations, which has been romanticized in post-war literature, had small strategic impact and resistance groups were seldom homogeneous. Combatants fared better than civilian: around three-quarters of all those who died were unarmed victims rather than active participants in the struggle, and the peoples of western Europe escaped more lightly than those of eastern Europe. Unfortunately, only a fraction of those guilty of war crimes were ever indicted, partly because the victors "had no stomach for the scale of executions, numbering several hundreds of thousands, that would have been necessary had strict justice been enforced against every Axis murderer".
The US Navy found the experience of combating the kamikazes among the bloodiest and most painful of its war and Japanese airmen carried out almost 1700 sorties to Okinawa between 11 March and the end of June 1945. Again, only a limited number of Japanese war criminals were prosecuted.
This is a gem of a book, giving both a macroscopic and panoramic view of the major episodes of the war, and a microscopic examination of many instances of it. To a large extent, this is 'everyman's story'. You will enjoy each page of this long and fascinating book.
89 von 91 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Sir Max Hastings - "War is all Hell" 16. November 2011
Von Red on Black - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Do we really need another general history of World War II? In recent years we have seen new studies by Evan Mawdsley, Martin Gilbert and in particular Andrew Roberts excellent populist history "The Storm of War" to name but a few. The years 1939 to 1945 are a very crowded field for historians and yet there is always a warm welcome for an historian of the calibre of Sir Max Hastings, recent chronicler of Churchill as a wartime leader and political commentator. Hastings is a conservative historian but what is interesting about "All hell let loose - the World at War 1939-45" is that employs the approach of producing an history from below drawn from eyewitness accounts of events. Accounts which in turn demonstrate and confirm William Tecumseh Sherman's maxim "that war is all hell" since we see an overwhelming view of very brave participants who are nonetheless generally terrified, demoralized and often beaten into a fossilised torpor. One British solider reflected in a letter to his wife that `I am absolutely fed up with everything. The dirt and filth, the flies - I'm having a hideous time and I wonder why I'm alive'. Another British soldier William Chappell "never ceased to ache for the civilian world from which he had been torn. He missed his home and his friends and bemoaned the loss of his career. His feet hurt, he was `sick of khaki, and all the monotonous, slow, fiddle-de-dee of Army life.' The fatalistic will of Russian soldiers is particularly well described not least the experience of Private Ivanov, of the 70th Army, who wrote despairingly to his family. `I shall never see you again because death, terrible, ruthless and merciless, is going to cut short my young life. Where shall I find strength and courage to live through all this?'

Those who have read Hastings previously on World War II will detect the ongoing preoccupations which he has developed over many years that have gradually become historical orthodoxy. He maintains in all his works that the best troops throughout the course of hostilities were Germans who were nevertheless effectively outdone by the crazed ambitions of a totalitarian monster particularly in sheer lunatic ambition of the Eastern theatre. Even as the German Army swept all in front of it during Operation Barbarossa key Generals like Halder and Hoepner were unnervingly aware that a nation with an almost limitless supply of manpower was stirring. Thus the war was won and lost in Stalin's Russia which despite the unbelievable ineptitude of its own leader particularly in almost destroying the whole of his own officer corps in purges had the crucial element of numbers on its side. This fact was readily accepted by Churchill at the time which in turn and his relationship to "Uncle Joe" has recently been chronicled with great detail by another British historian David Reynolds. Perhaps the most brutal statistic in the whole book is the fact that 750,000 Russians were shot by their own comrades for cowardice, desertion or simply to maintain army discipline, as it turns out this exceeds the total number of British dead in the entire war. The brutality of the Soviet invasion has been captured in a range of books not least Anthony Beevor's epic "Stalingrad" and the central thesis of Hastings book is equally located in the Soviet Union with its "hierarchy of cruelty" elevated beyond all other conflicts.

That said other pivotal events are not skimped on. The sheer horror of the "Rape of Nanking" in 1937 is vividly captured with its terrifying litany of mass murder, genocide and war rape. The treatment of non combatants prefigured the latter outrages of the war and with estimates of nearly 200,000 Chinese killed by marauding Japanese soldiers. As such Hastings is right to see this as a kind of appalling racist overture to the main act. Unsurprisingly Hastings also uses more well worn sources like the great Eugene Sledge's "With the old breed" his visceral account of the Pacific War as a primary source. The sights and the smells of battle also infuse the book and the everyday acts of living are elevated into small horrors in their own right. As Hastings points out "Excretory processes became an obsession. In battlefield conditions, many never made it to a latrine. But as one soldier recalled: `No one said anything about how you smelt, because everyone smelled bad.'

At over 700 pages this is a long book and your reviewer deliberately avoided the Kindle edition because of this since there were pages of text that needed to be reread and referred to for continuity purposes. Hastings however has the gift of writing an often-complex story in clear and understandable prose. He also cares deeply about the participants in his history and that humanity and gift for narrative shines through this excellent book.
185 von 199 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen British historian Max Hasting's monumental one volume popular history of World War II is a great book! 11. November 2011
Von C. M Mills - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Max Hastings has spent the past 35 years studying in depth the horrors of World War II (1939-1945). Among his bestselling volumes are Armageddon and Retribution. In Inferno the author gets personal. All of the major military campaigns are covered but the real strength of the book lies in the comments included in the text by participants in the war. We hear from Russian housewives, Werhmacht troops; American Marines; Japanese, Indian and Chinese persons. We feel as if we were there amid the horrors of the worst event in the history of humanity. Just consider the following horrible statistics:
a. Every day from 1939-45 over 27,000 men, women and children died as a result of the war.
b. Over 60 million persons lost their lives during the war due to battle, starvation, executions and disease.
c.90% of the over 7 million German soldiers who died in the war did so in the fight against Stalin's Soviet Union empire.
d. Japan and Germany were cruel dictatorships which treated their own people as cruelly as they did their enemies.
The chief mistakes made by Hitler leading to his downfall were:
a. The foolish attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941.
b. The failed plan to defeat England in a cross channel invasion which never transpired.
c.The declaration of war against the United States. America had unlimited wealth and might to produce the weapons of war which led to victory over the Axis powers
d. The holocaust killed over 6 million Jews and in addition 3 million Russians were murdered by the Nazi war machine. The slaves of the Nazis could have been better utiilized as workers for the Reich rather than being killed in senseless slaughter.
Germany was defeated by a two front war with the western allies attacking from the West and the Soviet hordes charging into Germany from the east. The Japanese were ill equipped to beat the better armed Americans. They failed to conquer China.
The book is 651 close typed pages which fascinate and shock. We Westerners have no idea how fortunate we are to live in demnocracies rather than in dictatorships ruled by such horrible monsters of evil as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Hirohito.
Anything written by Max Hastings is worth reading. This book is a sine qua non for anyone wanting a good one volume account of the war. Man's inhumanity to man is manifest in these grim pages of a worlwide tragedy of unprecedented proportions. Dante's inferno pales in horror before the real life inferno ignited by the fires of totalitarianism and racial hatred.
Inferno contains many maps which are included to aid understanding of the absorbing text. Hastings shows his research skills with an extensive bibliography. The author has mined little known sources to strengthen the narrative. Though the book is lengthy I found it to be engrossing. World War II was a horrible tragedy which has never been equalled for its cruelty and terror. May humankind never descend in such an abyss as transpired seventy years ago. Highly recommended for all World War II buffs and general readers seeking a good understanding of the war.
42 von 43 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Apocalypse Now 25. November 2011
Von Keith A. Comess - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
It is an obvious truism that WW-II was the single most destructive event in human history. It is also self-evident that, never in the future, will mass encounters between opposing armies of the scope and scale of WW-II occur again: nuclear weapons have rendered clashes of this sort technically obsolete. In the modern imagination, however, WW-II represents the last "good war" and, indeed, it pretty closely approximates that summation. The Axis Powers (essentially, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan) were a nasty bunch and the Allies (at least excluding the USSR) were self-evidently better. In between were the French (in many ways active collaborators), various overseas "dominions" of Empire (the Dutch East Indies, India, Southeast Asia), European nations (complicit "neutrals", such as Sweden and Switzerland; over-run and overwhelmed countries such as Belgium), the Far East (China), Near East (Egypt, Libya, etc) and the relatively "uninvolved" (e.g. Latin America). The USSR seems to stand alone, not only in terms of material and human sacrifices incurred battling the Nazis, but also in terms of moral culpability.

So, how can such a complex canvas possibly be adequately addressed in a single-volume work? Clearly, there are enough books on WW-II to fill many a library and more fine studies than could possibly be accommodated (much less read and understood) by any single reader. By my probably incomplete count, least 9 major single-volume studies of the combined Pacific-European Theaters have been published since 1971, beginning with B.H. Liddell-Hart's "History of the Second World War" and most recently in, "Inferno" by Max Hastings. It would be audacious to pronounce which these "complete" histories is "best", as they are all different in emphasis, breadth, historical accuracy (partly reflecting archives accessible at the time of publication), writing skill and perspipacity of judgments. Based on those criteria, my "top 3" are Martin Gilbert's "The Second World War: A Complete History", "A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II" by Gerhard Weinberg and "Inferno".

Max Hastings is a highly distinguished and incredibly prolific military historian (in addition to his journalistic and editorial obligations). He synthesizes his most recent works ("Armageddon" about the concluding chapter of the European conflict; "Retribution", dealing with end-stage Imperial Japan; "Winston's War", dealing with its eponymous subject during the war years) into a single panoptic super-work. "Inferno" encapsulates a wealth of data (statistics, military maneuvers, biographical information on civilian and military leaders) with generous samplings from memoirs, comments and observations proffered by soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Most especially, Hastings remains true to his prior studies in liberally offering frank (sometimes brutally candid), incisive, compelling and convincing judgments and commentary on leadership, military competence, motives and responsibility. When I first encountered his "revisionist" assessment of Wehrmacht skills in "Overlord", I was offended by his condemnation of British, Canadian and US military proficiency contrasted to those of their German opponents. The Allies were outfought, outmaneuvered and out-performed repeatedly by the German Army. The same forthright pronouncements regarding the strategic incompetence, timidity and cultural arrogance of the Imperial Japanese Government and military (all arms) in "Retribution" surprised me, although it conformed to my prejudices. The blunders of MacArthur ("The Korean War" and in "Inferno") contrasted with the more generous assessment of William Manchester in "American Caesar"). The singularity of purpose, unvarnished realism of Stalin as well as his evolution as a military supremo met expectations. The cynicism of Vichy France, Chiang and Mao; the Imperial indifference of Britian (Bengal Famine); the opportunism of Roosevelt and Churchill all are subject to lacerating exposition in "Inferno". I most especially appreciate his thorough demolition of the "moral equivalence" arguments. These features and extra-fine story telling distinguish Hastings' work from that of his contemporaries.

Hastings wields statistics to devastating effect. Here are some examples: "If all soldiers find it hard to describe to civilians afterwards what they have endured, for Russians it was uniquely difficult. Even in the years of victory, 1943-1945, the Red Army's assault units accepted losses of around 25% in each action, a casualty rate the Anglo-American forces would never have accepted as a constant." As also emphasized by Ian Kershaw ("The End"), "During the last four months of the war, more Germans perished than in the whole of 1942-1943. Such numbers emphasize the price paid by the German people for their army leadership's failure to depose the Nazis and quit the war before its last terrible act." This last point deserves qualification and is one of my salient criticisms of the book. Kershaw repeatedly demonstrates the fealty of the Wehrmacht leadership (and many lower ranks as well) to Nazi ideology, confused and admixed with a warped notion of institutional loyalty. Hastings remains curiously silent on this important issue. On the other hand, Hastings is singularly astringent in his condemnation of Japan and musters a plethora of facts to support his condemnation: Unit 731, Japanese racism, gratuitous brutality to POWs and civilians in occupied countries, stupid, blind fanaticism to the end (and beyond). His treatment of Vichy France is more pungent that Robert Paxton ("Vichy France") and is better conveyed: "Everywhere Vichy held sway, the French treated captured Allied servicemen and civilian internees with callousness and sometimes brutality...Even in November, 1942, when it was becoming plain that the Allies wold win the war, the resistance offered by French troops shocked Americans landing in North Africa." Of course, it also shocked British Navy personnel at Mers-el-Kebir and elsewhere.

Lesser known features of the war also receive necessary treatment. For instance, while I was aware of domestic (US and British) dissent with respect to involvement in the war and casualties incurred in various actions), I had no idea of the extent of the problem. The much vaunted (and mythologized) unanimity of purpose and sense of "Greatest Generation" self-sacrifice was quickly dispelled by Hastings. Of course, the shabby treatment of Polish military volunteers serving the Allies warrants attention as does the crass opportunism of Sweden and Switzerland. One singular insight has relevance to the conundrum facing the modern Middle East. Leaving aside French, German, Romanian, Hungarian, Baltic, Ukranian, Polish and other anti-Semitisms, the involvement of Muslims in the SS and generous moral support (from at least some leadership elements) resonates today: "...Himmler promoted Muslim support by establishing a special mullah military school in Dresden adn the mufti of Jerusalem created an 'Imam School' in Berlin, to educate SS officers about shared Nazi and Muslim ideals." One Nazi commander was quoted to the effect that, "...the Muslims in our SS divisions...are beginning to see in our Fuhrer the appearance of a Second Prophet."

The concluding chapter ("Victors and Vanquished") contains an important (and pungent) assessment of military leadership, including, "The Germans and Russians proved more successful than the Western Allies in fulfilling the empower commanders who fought rather than managed" (a problem Hastings ascribes to US and British generals). Importantly, Hastings qualifies his statement: "The rival claims to greatness of individual commanders are impervious to objective ranking. Circumstances decisively influenced outcomes: no general could perform better than the institutional strength or weakness of his forces allowed. Thus, it is possible that Patton-for instance-might have shown himself a great general, had he led forces with the Wehrmacht's skills or the Red Army's tolerance of casualties."

So, if there is "one best book" on the entire maelstrom of the Second World War, which would it be? Of those I have read, I rank "Inferno" and "World at Arms" at the top. Gilbert's book is more "accessible" and perhaps more anecdotal. Keegan offers most military detail whilst "World" gives the most authoritative background to events. In short, there is no "one best book", but "Inferno" is a fine place to start, especially if finely reasoned, astringent analysis and perspectives on motives, character, performance and morals they do to me.
84 von 93 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen All the flavor of the war, and a few mistakes 18. November 2011
Von tkeithlu - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Hastngs does an excellent job of doing what he set out to do - not yet another one-volume history of the Second World War, but a look into all the corners that get overlooked due to space restrictions in standard histories, with heavy reliance on a massive collection of personal commentary - often from letters taken off corpses on the battle fields. He includes the wars in Finland, Greece, and Burma, and describes the experiences and feelings of civilians as well as combatants in each case. He also builds on his revisionist but valid argument, first popularized in his Overlord history of the Normandy invasion, that allied soldiers, leaders, troops and often weapons were not the equal of the German army, but overwhelming given economic resources, tons of artillery, manpower, and air supremacy.

This not the book of choice if you need an overview of the Second World War. It is an engaging companion to add flavor, and a good balance to earlier histories that tended toward the heroic.

But then the really silly errors. How does a British author of Hastings' experience four times refer to Churchill as sea lord in Chamberlain's 1939 government? The Sea Lord was Admiral Dudley Pound; Churchill was the Lord of the Admiralty, the cabinet rather than the professional position. How does he begin the Ardennes Offensive on December 18 rather than 16, and repeatedly refer to it as Operation Autumn Mist, Field Marshal Model's rejected alternative to Hitler's Operation Watch on the Rhine? I hate to say it, but Hastings may have become so prolific, and so entertaining to fans like me, that he has stopped being careful.
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