Friday, July 13, 2012

12-07 All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings

All Hell Let Loose: The World At War 1939-1945 (2011) by Max Hastings

Who needs another overview of the Second World War, right? I'd heard that Max Hastings was a bit polemic when it came to his histories but that this was one of his best written and most accessible books.

It turns out to have been a fantastic read. What he does in this book is not only to present a rough overview of the war from wherever it might be taking place but he also compiles small personal anecdotes about how it affected both combatants and civilians.

I would suggest that this is the best single volume history of the war that I have read.

"Readers who know Max Hastings the dyspeptic opinion-monger - indeed, some who have read his narrower military histories - may be surprised or awed by this book.

Not another doorstop chronicle of the Second World War, this is his masterpiece: humane, sceptical, vivid, authoritative, quite free of jingoism. He delivers "bottom-up... experiences", of civilians and combatants alike.

From him you might expect the panoramic set-pieces, the grand strategy and landmark battles of 1939-1945. He draws superbly too on diaries, journals and reports.
The epic closes without a whiff of triumphalism, leaving just a great sadness behind."

- The Independent

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