The second world war

The second world war

I’ve just finished reading the excellent The Second World War by Anthony Beevor. What a task to try to do justice to a conflict that ranged across continents over six long years, but he manages it brilliantly.

I knew a fair bit of the history from watching many war films over the years, the excellent 1970s The World at War TV series, Auschwitz, the Nazis and the Final Solution, Band of Brothers, The Pacific and many other documentaries, as well as visiting many war museums around the world (including Pearl Harbour shown in the photo above) and reading about Anne Frank, but there were bits I knew nothing about and it was great to delve into parts where I wanted to know more.

I was particularly fascinated by the sections of the war that involved my own family – North Africa, where my Dad’s father was killed in 1942 when my Dad was three months old, the invasion of Sicily and the war in Italy, where my 97 year old (step) grandfather was on General Alexander’s planning staff, and the war in Burma, where my Mum’s late second husband was fighting in the latter stages of the war.

I learned the most from all the chapters on the eastern front – my only prior knowledge of what Russia experienced in the war was based on a few episodes of The World at War and it was hard to try and understand the sheer scale of the deaths of soldiers and citizens and the unbelievable hardships that the population endured. Chapters on the Holocaust were very hard to read, as were descriptions of the treatment of Japanese prisoners of war.

It you want to know a little bit about all of the major events in the second world war, this is an excellent book.