After the unprecedented destruction of the Great War, the world longed for a lasting peace. The victors, however, valued vengeance even more than stability and demanded a massive indemnity from Germany in order to keep it from rearming. The results, as eminent historian Norman Stone describes in this authoritative history, were disastrous.
In World War Two, Stone provides a remarkably concise account of the deadliest war of human history, showing how the conflict roared to life from the ashes of World War One. Adolf Hitler rode a tide of popular desperation and resentment to power in Germany, promptly making good on his promise to return the nation to its former economic and military strength. He bullied Europe into giving him his way, and in so doing backed the victors of the Great War into a corner. Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany -- a decision that, Stone argues, was utterly irrational. Yet Hitler had driven the world mad, and the rekindling of European hostilities soon grew to a conflagration that spread across the globe, fanned by political and racial ideologies more poisonous -- and weaponry more destructive -- than the world had ever seen. With commanding expertise, Stone leads readers through the escalation, climax, and mournful denouement of this sprawling conflict.
World War Two is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the twentieth century and its defining struggle.
Stone is as unconventional as he is brilliant, and this provocative interpretation of the Great War combines impressive command of the literature with a telling eye for relevant facts and a sensitive ear for telling epigrams. Stone presents a Europe that in 1914 bestrode the world like the proverbial colossus. Four years later, the continent faced a spectrum of disasters: shattered economies, shattered societies, shattered lives and shattered illusions. Stone demonstrates the contingent nature of the war's outbreak and analyzes the continued failure to achieve decision on the Western Front until 1917. Stone specializes in Great War Russia, does a first-rate job of presenting the consequences of the collapse of four empires: Hapsburg, German, tsarist and Ottoman. He challenges current interpretations of the postwar treaties, presenting them as a list of failures. The attempt to integrate the world economy collapsed. The postwar expansion of colonial empires proved ephemeral. The League of Nations "declined into irrelevance." Stone reserves his harshest criticism for the punitive terms imposed on a Germany convinced neither of its defeat nor the injustice of its cause. That, he asserts convincingly, laid the groundwork for a second, more terrible conflict. Photos, maps.