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A magisterial history of the greatest and most terrible event in history, from one of the finest historians of the Second World War. A book which shows the impact of war upon hundreds of millions of people around the world – soldiers, sailors and airmen; housewives, farm workers and children.
‘Unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written’ SUNDAY TIMES.
All Hell Let Loose reflects Max Hastings’s thirty-five years of research on World War II, and describes not just the course of events, but an epic tale of human experience, from campaign to campaign, continent to continent.
This magisterial book ranges across a vast canvas, from the Russian front, where more than 90% of all German soldiers who perished met their fate, to the agony of Poland amid the September 1939 Nazi invasion, and the 1943 Bengal famine, in which at least a million people died under British rule – and British neglect. Some of Hastings’s insights and judgements will surprise students of the conflict, while there are vivid descriptions of the tragedies and triumphs of a host of ordinary people, in uniform and out of it.
This is ‘everyman’s story’, an attempt to answer the question: ‘What was the Second World War like?’, and also an overview of the big picture. Max Hastings employs the technique which has made many of his previous books best-sellers, combining top-down analysis and bottom-up testimony to explore the meaning of this vast conflict both for its participants and for posterity.
The Value of Reading this
I was born in 1954. My dad served as a dispatch rider in N Africa and Italy from 1939-45. He did not say much about this, but it changed his life completely. While I have read and seen films about WWII I has not absorbed the true horror of those actively involved. This book fills in the details of how individuals' lives were drastically changed. What is difficult to come to terms with is how the populations allowed them to be dragged in to combat. This includes Germans who took to taking from others by force. It also gives insight into Japan, Italy…
I am left with gratitude for those who served and for my Dad's survival. While he accepted his call to arms he left me with the thought that he and his comrades were conned by those in power and they were not rewarded for their service.
I hope we do not forget their sacrifice such that these horrors are not repeated.
Thanks to Max for this book!
From leaders to privates to civilians, an excellent insight, from the individual, to the overall vast effect WW2 had on nations, continents and governments. I have passed this to my sons to read ( both over 20), as modern schooling seems to have missed the true suffering of millions during this conflict. Written with balance and accuracy. Strongly recommended.
About time too
It's taken 70 years to get a true perspective on WW2, and Max Hastings has the scope and breadth to do a superb job. We all know a lot about the war, and yet he manages to write about it with a fascinating freshness, making comparisons and highlighting areas that other historians hardly mention. The suffering of the Indians for example is ignored by most accounts. We may think of the Battle of Britain as a defining moment in the conflict, but it wasn't really, and this book explains why. If you only ever read one book on WW2, make it this. If you have read a lot and think you know the subject, read this too.