Synopses & Reviews
Sixty-five years after the conclusion of World War II, its consequences are still with us. In this probing book, the acclaimed historian John Lukacs raises perplexing questions about World War II that have yet to be explored. In a work that brilliantly argues for World War IIs central place in the history of the twentieth century, Lukacs applies his singular expertise toward addressing the wars most persistent enigmas.
The Second World War was Hitlers war. Yet questions about Hitlers thoughts and his decisions still remain. How did the divisions of Europe—and, consequently, the Cold War—come about? What were the true reasons for Werner Heisenbergs mission to Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in September 1941? What led to “Rainbow Five,” the American decision to make the war against Germany an American priority even in the event of a two-ocean world war? Was the Cold War unavoidable? In this work, which offers both an accessible primer for students and challenging new theses for scholars, Lukacs addresses these and other riddles, revealing the ways in which the war and its legacy still touch our lives today.
"Several enigmas surrounding WWII are explored in this wide-ranging but unfocused rumination. Veteran historian Lukacs (Five Days in London) argues that the war was the main event of the 20th century, then devotes a series of loosely episodic chapters to specific questions about its conduct and results. Why did America prioritize the fight against Germany rather than the defeat of Japan? Was German physicist Werner Heisenberg opposed to the atomic bomb project he directed for the Third Reich? Why did the alliance against Germany end up creating a Europe divided into hostile blocs? Threaded throughout is an assessment of the evolving war aims, the complex anti-Semitism, and the warped idealism of Adolf Hitler. Several themes emerge out of the diffuse, at times repetitive text: the importance of leadership (Lukacs suggests the cold war might have been attenuated had Roosevelt backed Churchill in negotiating clear postwar spheres of influence with Stalin) and the centrality of nationalism in motivating the war's combatants and determining its course. Lukacs offers intriguing insights into particular aspects of the conflict and its major figures, but his unsystematic musings never develop into a compelling vision of the war as a whole." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. Lukacs is one of the more incisive historians of the 20th century, and especially of the tangled events leading to World War II."—Joseph C. Goulden, Washington Times
“John Lukacs presents an original and complex analysis. The scholarship is thorough and impeccable, and the final product a highly nuanced discussion of major decisions and problems.”—Stanley Payne, author of Franco and Hitler: Spain, Germany, and World War II
“Esteemed historian Lukacs . . . reminds readers that when it comes to WWII history, sections remain to be written, and what has been written departs from historical truth in certain ways.”—Booklist
In this work, which offers both an accessible primer for students and challenging new theses for scholars, Lukacs addresses the perplexing and often overlooked questions about World War II, revealing the ways in which the war and its legacy still touch lives today.
About the Author
John Lukacs is the author of some thirty books of history, including Five Days in London and most recently Last Rites, also published by Yale University Press. He lives near Phoenixville, PA.