By Max Hastings
Knopf, $35.00, 730 pages

Readers that enjoy non-fiction historical reading, specifically on World War II, will enjoy this book. Author Max Hastings does a terrific job of leading the reader through most areas of conflict, focusing on the events through the eyes and thoughts of the foot soldiers and civilians from many of the countries involved. Every day, on average, 27,000 soldiers and many more civilians lost their lives. An interesting observation made in the book was that many people had little sympathy for those from other countries. He cites a case of an English woman terrified but unhurt in an air raid that showed little sympathy for the Poles, Jews and French refugees that were experiencing unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. On the Pacific front young men in Japan asked why they were being sent to war and why their country would attack the United States with so much manufacturing potential and a much larger population.

“In a narrow sense, …human beings measure risk and privation within the compass of their personal knowledge. It was meaningless to assert to an English suburban housewife that Poles, Jews, French refugeees and, later, soldiers on the Eastern Front suffered much worse things than she had.”

World War II was truly a war fought over most of the globe and Hastings has done a wonderful job describing the fears and hardships of those being afflicted on a daily basis. I would highly recommend this book to readers interested in getting a deeper understanding of the time period.

Brian Taylor