Beginning in 1939, with the Russian victory over Japan at Khalkin-Gol, and going through the dropping of the atomic bombs and occupation of Japan, “The Second World War” by Antony Beevor is an account of World War II like no other. Whether you are an amateur or professional historian, I guarantee you will learn something new by reading this book. Antony Beevor, being of British Nationality, writes without the American bias, and gives an unfiltered account of the war that engrossed the entire world. To what extent the entire world felt the repercussions of this war was unknown to me until I read this book. The war engulfed all of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
While the battles were long, ferocious, and deadly, Beevor sheds light on the atrocities the civilian non-combatants faced from occupying armies. The huge loss of life throughout the war was not comprised solely of soldiers. Civilians accounted for huge losses, more than any other war. Due to rampant nationalism and propaganda hatred for the enemy led soldiers to do horrible things. They knew what they were doing was wrong too, because we have letters written home, but did it anyway. The prejudices each side had towards each other, especially the Germans and Soviets, led to many terrible losses in battles and human life. The various leader’s egos also contributed to huge loss of life on all sides, both Allied and Axis.
One thing that is especially exciting about this book is the detail given to every battle. No detail is spared in describing each and every battle. From battle formations, to orders from the top, a clear picture is painted on exactly how the battles unfolded. Using journals, letters home, communiques, and official reports, Beevor dives headfirst into firsthand accounts in order to pull every detail possible a provide the clearest account to date.
I will warn you, reading the entire book is quite an undertaking. Weighing it at 783 pages “The Second World War” is not for the casual reader. You’re going to want to block off about a month to read the whole thing, but it’s worth it because the chapters are short enough not to bore you, and at times you might find it difficult to put it down. In order to make it through this meaty book you need to enjoy the topic and want to know everything about it. It’s so comprehensive you could probably use it as a textbook in a college classroom. So if you’re looking for your next World War II book, pick up “The Second World War” by Antony Beevor, because it might just be your last.
If you have no interest in history, or have never read or learned about this time period James Donovan’s “” is a must read. If you were inspired by the American revolution, you will definitely feel a connection to these transplanted Americans and their cause. With its short chapters and everyday language “” reads easily. It reminded me of a Dan Brown novel which I couldn’t put down and but never wanted to end.
The story is one we all know, but probably do not know much about, and because of that it can be overwhelming to undertake the task of reading about it. Donovan introduces the reader to each character involved in the inspiring history of the Alamo, intimately and appropriately, so much so you never find yourself lost throughout the book. From the courageous rebel leader William Barret Travis, and his “brave little band” to “His Excellancy,” Mexican General Santa Anna and his Army of Operation, Donovan introduces the reader to all the important people and provides ample background history.
“” begins by introducing the main players, Travis, Bowie, Houston, and the successful siege of Bexar by the unassuming Texian army. That in itself was a huge victory overtaking a superior force to first take hold of the Alamo. My favorite part was the introduction of David Crockett and his group of “Tennessee Mounted Volunteers.” Crockett’s history is interesting and sparked my interest in further readings, and that is only a testament to Donovan’s thorough research and presentation.
After some history on Santa Anna, his Mexican counterparts, and a brief Mexican history lesson, the build up toward a show down at the Alamo begins. Santa Anna positioning his troops to maximize the advantage over the vastly outnumbered Texian volunteers holed up in the Alamo.
Despite numerous pleas for aid and reinforcements Travis’s rebel army would be forced to face a force that outnumbered them about 10 to 1. Santa Anna would only hold his siege for so long before he attacked.
Even for the casual reader of non-fiction “” is a must read. You will definitely come out not only knowing more, but wanting more. Donovan gives all of his sources in the back and I suggest you look through them if you are interested in reading more.
James Donovan’s “” goes on sale today and can be purchased at your local book store or online at .
The Tower of London’s manifestation as an exit-through-the-gift-shop tourist attraction is nothing new. In the early 17th century, crowds gathered on the wharf to catch a glimpse of imprisoned national hero Sir Walter Raleigh taking his constitutional on the terrace still known as Raleigh’s walk.
Long before it was famed as a prison, the Tower was known as a public menagerie, though medieval standards of care left much to be desired. It was the best available in animal welfare when Henry VII complained at seeing two mastiffs set loose on a lion. He ordered the dogs to be hanged for having the effrontery to “with such villainy assault the lion, the king of all beasts”.
Read the rest of the review at Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones: review – Telegraph.
Review by Jad Adams – Telegraph
Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones on Amazon.com
The problem for Robespierre’s biographer was best stated by the 19th-century historian John Wilson Croker. “Of no one of whom so much has been written is so little known,” Croker boldly asserted, before brilliantly characterising the peculiar shape of Robespierre’s revolutionary life: “The blood-red mist by which his last years were enveloped magnified his form but obscured his features. Like the Genius of the Arabian tale, he emerged suddenly from a petty space into enormous power and gigantic size, and as suddenly vanished, leaving behind him no trace but terror.”
Read the rest of the review at Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life by Peter McPhee – review | Books | The Observer.
Review by Ruth Scurr – The Observer
Robespierre: A Revolutionary Life by Peter McPhee on Amazon.com