Field: Wars, world history
The second world war
Alan Farmer

Reviewed by:
A.S Abd Mokti

As one of the series of ‘teach yourself’, this book is useful for people with little or rather no knowledge about the second world war. The book outlines the events of WW2 in a rather narrative but concise way that would be found appealing to the readers of all walks of life.

Instead of going through the chronologies of events in the war, Farmer brings the readers towards the event itself and explains its importance in the point of view of history. The first chapter; ‘origin’ explained the dissatisfaction of Germany, Italy and several Baltic states over the Treaty of Versailles 1919 which is explained in the ‘trouble peace 1919-1933’ subtopic and the emergence of Hitler and his Nazi regime in 1933 and Mussolini in Italy . Hitler which his sleek strategy was able to demolish the Versailles and the war officially started when the Nazi Germans invade Poland in 1939. The combination of military advancement, sleek strategy, the Axis formation and the spirit of ultra-nationalism contributed to Hitler’s victory during the first few years of war, both in the east against Russia and in the west against the West European Nations. This brought western European countries including France to their knees and at one point, Britain was seen as being alone in the war. Nazi regime was ruling most of western and eastern Europe and some became Germany’s satellite countries.

However, operation Barbarosa which is the invasion of Soviet territory changed the tide of the war. Though the Nazis gained territory, the attack made Germany a common enemy among the 3 leaders; Roosevelt from USA, Churchill of Britain and Stalin of Soviet. The Allies were formed with a common vision; i.e. to make defeat the Nazi and made them accept unconditional surrender. However, Germany was still pushing for territorial gain in the east (soviet territory) and the west by bombing Britain. Several operations like the operation Blue which increases Germany’s territory but rather fatal as the increase in area is not matched with increase in resources and development.

In the east, the emergence of Japan which conquered many colonies of British, French and Dutch was also elaborated in-depth, ensuing with the Pearl Harbour tragedy and the Nazi-Japanese coalition in their heights of the war.

As other historians, Farmer also highlighted several events such as the Holocaust, the battle of Atlantic, D-day (operation Overlord), the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb project) and how the Allies gain the upper hand and the Axis gradually lost- mainly due to military war development, economic rations and the rise of resistance powers in Greater Germany areas. Japanese defeat was also explained-mainly the release of Fat man and Little Boy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the end, the book explores the reasons behind the contributing factors for Allies win and the consequences of the war from then till today.


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