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The Second World War
by John Keegan
ISBN 014011341X / 9780140113419 / 0-14-011341-X
Publisher Penguin Books
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The best one-volume treatment available, The Second World War by John Keegan is an outstanding synthesis of an enormous amount of material on "the largest single event in human history." The book proceeds chronologically through the war, but chapters appearing at appropriate moments focus on particular themes, such as war production, occupation, bombing, resistance, and espionage. Keegan's ability to translate the war's grand strategies is impressive, and the battle descriptions are superb. Generals obviously play a key role in this narrative, but ordinary soldiers also receive proper credit, as do the often-overlooked merchant marines whose heroic efforts to supply Great Britain made the Allied victory possible. Keegan, author of the landmark book The Face of Battle, is without doubt one of our greatest military historians, and here his analytical powers and skilled writing are on full display. [via]