This is a remarkable book, and it deserves all the five star ratings already given to it by previous reviewers, as it has the potential to upset our thinking about how the Allies actually won the Second World War, or even how important was the American and British contribution to the War with Germany. Overy looks at the statistics and comes up with some remarkable, and some disturbing, speculations. For example, he feels it may have been possible for the Russians alone to defeat the Germans. Or, if England were defeated early in the war, we in the U.S. might have had to live with the situation of a Nazi German Europe. And, did we win through Hitler's mistakes, or did we win by the economy of war goods America produced in great quantities? Overy gives credit where it is due, contrary to any current political correctness. He gives credit to the Russians and explains in detail why - he gives credit to the effectiveness of Hitler's leadership, or generalship, and he carefully explains that also - and, he introduces a lot of generally-ignored "what if" questions that cause the reader to think. According to Overy, the Second World War was a complex string of events and human considerations. If it had not proceeded exactly the way it did, and events occur as they luckily did in some cases, we would now be looking at a different "new world order." Excellent analysis, interwoven with some imagistic action from time to time to keep the reader on his/her toes. A "must read" for the serious student of the Second World War.
Overy masterfully attacks a subject made all the more elusive by its apparent obviousness; how it was that the great coalition of forces fighting fascism during the Second World War, managed to win a none-too-certain victory. Overy analyses critical components of the Allied victory in the war, and does so in a prose both dramatic, and filled with historical detail. He covers key campaigns on the sea, land, and air -in a detail that is surprising given the breadth of subject matter; and follows his blow-by-blow account of the war by analyses of the economies and technological development of the powers at war; and finally by the leadership of the warring countries, and the moral codes that guided them. This is an excellent book through and through -from the anecdotes and battle strategies discussed in the planning and execution of Midway and Stalingrad, to the remarkable treatise included on the moral world-view of the Nazi hierarchy, and how it affected the moral! e of the German soldier. Any history enthusiast, let alone any student of this great and terrible war, should have this book in his or her personal collection. It is truly one of those indispensable resources that anyone from layman to general can learn from.
I've read a number of books on WWII but this work approaches the subject from a refreshingly new angle. Really interesting points of view around how on one hand a nation (America) charged ahead in the technology race - largely because it's resources were not impeded by bombing etc - and on the other hand how another nation (Russia) mass produced on a couple of basic models of armour and aircraft; to ultimately win. The other really interesting point that came through was how in their darkest hours the Allies managed to overcome huge Axis odds through being clever with technology and thinking laterally rather than enforcing sheer strength, outdated tactics and brute force (which they had very little of in the early years). If there was one point I wasn't quite sure about it was where reference was made about the German people not really supporting the war. I have trouble reconciling this against film footage of the Nuremberg rallies etc and also I don't recall reading about the German masses calling for the downfall of Hitler as German armies swept everything before them in Western and Central Europe in '39 / '40 ! Anyway .... great read, have a go.
Richard Overy's excellent book takes a careful and painstaking look at both how and why the Aliies won what he contends was a much more closely fought war than traditional treatments of the matter would have us believe. He cites several issues which were crucial; the war on the seas, primarily in the Atlantic, where the balance of terror for some time seemed to be tipping in favor of the Axis forces, the air bombing war over the skies of Europe, which holstered squadrons of Axis planes into a defense of the Fatherland, and removed them from conduct of a more vigorous air campaign against the Russians; the miscalculation concerning the ability of the Soviets to sustain their battle lines and to even accelerate the pace of the war on the Eastern front. In addition Overy cites the astonishing productive and manufacturing capability of the Americans, Canadians, British, and even the Soviets, who outworked and outproduced the Germans gun for gun, plane for plane, and tank for tank during the darkest and most difficult moments of the war; the constant and confusing interference with weapon selection and production by the upper reaches of the Nazi hierarchy. Finally, the philosophical sense shared by the Allies of fighting for the right, which Overy argues persuasively informed Allied forces with a sense of moral courage that seemed to imbue them with a fighting ferocity the Axis found difficult to rival. This is a great book by a very notable author, and one every respectable denizen of WWII history should have on his or her shelf.
"Don't you ever get tired of watching the something over and over on the history channel" My wife asked me the other day. Just recently retired at age fifty five and my hair the color it was when was sixteen I thought you make a good point. Richard Avery has written seven or eight other books on The Second World War, and is a professor of history at Kings College London. His work was extensively praised by the late A.J.P Taylor. Of the books he has written I have read his Biography of Herman Goring "Goring The Iron Man" and I can say that Avery is a master of analytical history as he resists the conventual wisdom the Allied Victory was a foregone conclusion. Some like my 83 year-old father in law a veteran of the Pacific say that it was more like a victory due to device intervention rather than an assured victory. I was once on a panel at A World Science Fiction Convention with science fiction writer Hal Clement on a science fictional genre called alternative history. I said I would like to go to the Moscow suburb where the cross and twisted railroad ties signify the flood tide of the German Advance. He smiled Interrupting me to say He was Jewish and would be dead now had that not happened. Why The Allies Won has not sold well, I have been told by booksellers, because readers don't care about the Second World War anymore. Maybe they are too busy watching the history channel. Well How do you feel after you have read a thought provoking book like this one. I suggest a you would lot better than you might if you spent the evening laying on the couch. Take it from me it makes your back really sore. What I would like to help my readers do is to build their own World war Two Memorial Library; lest we forget that what I saw on a British Solider's grave in Pickering a small town in the English North Country. "I gave up my today that you might have a tomorrow. Richard Avery's prose style is almost Churchill-like in tone and intensity as he describes the fate of the great battleships which were constructed in the two decades between the two World Wars. The persistent illusion, shared even by Churchill, that big battle ships could defend themselves against air attack ended with the destruction of the Italian fleet at Taranto, on 11 November 1940 by a mere twenty Swordfish Biplanes ( with a top air speed of less than 120 knots) by elements of the British fleet air arm, the sinking of the German Battleship in may 1941, and the devastating destruction of the Prince of Wales and Repulse seven months later. Great ships which took years to build and commission were sent to the sea bed in a matter of minutes, destroyed by a handful of bombs and torpedoes. The most remarkable miss-match of the whole war was between these giant dinosaurs of the sea and the tiny aircraft that circled then like venomous insects waiting to sting. (P 30) This kind of writing though academically correct and well documented does nothing less than jump start one's imagination which has been numbed by far too many years of television. Once activated whether it is the imagination of a twelve year old or an 83 year old veteran it can never be shut off again. 396 pages with Index Photo's, around 20 maps, notes, a huge selected bibliography Phil Kaveny, Reviewer
In this very readable book, Richard Overy gives an excellentanalysis of what gave the allies the edge during WWII, and what led tothe axis' downfall. Overy intentionally looks beyond the mere material advantages the allies had in the latter part of the war, and emphasizes the superior organization, effort, strategy, leadership, and a little luck, that led to victory. Though his analysis of the land battles in Western Europe after D-day and the battles of Kursk and Stalingrad are rather unimaginative, his positive assessment of the bombing campaign against Germany and the superior economic mobilization of the allies is terrific. One peculiar oversight is the superficial treatment given the Japanese war effort. While not ignored completely,the book is nearly totally devoted to the war in Europe.
By no means, Overy persuasively argues in this beautifully written survey of the major aspects of Allied victory.
The decisive battles and campaigns are examined in detail, but also some other necessary, but often overlooked elements: mass production, technology, unity of leadership, and the moral dimension. Overy's skill is such that even the economics are miraculously rendered interesting.
Highly recommended; even the experienced reader should find interesting Overy's skillful analysis of the interlocking elements of victory.
(The numerical rating above is a default setting within Amazon's format. This reviewer does not employ numerical ratings.)
This is the most analytical book I've read regarding WWII. It always seemed to me to be fairly self-evident as to why the Allies won, but this book breaks it down subject by subject, earning even more of my respect for the generation that fought this war and for the masterminds behind Allied victory. A good book for the corporate world, too, as it illustrates the need for companies to have passion for the battle, a strong support team, and the ability to delegate. And hey, U.S.S.R. Thanks.
Richard Overy accomplishes what he sets out to do, answering fully why the allies won. He looks not only at specific battles and campaigns like Stalingrad and D-Day, he also looks at underlying factors. Economics, resources, and leadership are all examined in great detail. Especially interesting is his assertion that morality counts. People tend to fight better for a noble cause. The emphasis however is on Germany, and Japan does get somewhat overlooked
Overy shatters our modern complacency by vividly illustrating how close the allies came to defeat in World War II. It is interesting to see how and why the allies turned the tide of the war, and how the Axis helped bring about its own destruction. It is sobering to see how close we came to defeat. This book will renew your respect for those who fought a war in which there were no guarantees of victory -- sometimes very little prospect of it.