WINNER OF THE BRITISH ARMY MILITARY BOOK OF THE YEAR 2010
On 2 August 1944, in the wake of the complete destruction of the German Army Group Centre in Belorussia, Winston Churchill mocked Adolf Hitler in the House of Commons by the rank he had reached in the First World War. ‘Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Corporal Hitler,’ Churchill jibed. ‘Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in his actions.’
Why did the Axis lose the Second World War? Andrew Roberts’s previous book Masters and Commanders studied the creation of Allied grand strategy; the central theme of The Storm of War is how Axis strategy evolved. Examining the Second World War on every front, Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, the Axis might even have won. Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once they could criticism him with impunity?
In researching this uniquely vivid history, Roberts has walked many of the key battlefield and wartime sites of Russia, France, Italy, Germany and the Far East. The book also employs a number of important yet hitherto unpublished documents, such as the letter from Hitler’s director of military operations explaining what the Führer was hoping for when he gave the order to halt the Panzers outside Dunkirk. It is full of illuminating sidelights on the principal actors on both sides that bring their characters and the ways in which they reached decisions into fresh focus, and it presents the tales of many little-known individuals whose experiences make up the panoply of extraordinary courage, self-sacrifice but also terrible depravity and cruelty that was the Second World War.
That war lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion and claimed the lives of over 50 million people. Why did it take the course that it did? The Storm of War gives a succinct but dramatic account of the struggle that engulfed the world between 1939 and 1945 and, at the last, a convincing answer to that question.