January 22, 2012
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK TEN, 2012
Max Hastings, Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 (New York: Knopf, 2011) (From the bookjacket: "From one of our finest military historians, a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences." "World War II involved tens of millions of soldiers and cost sixty million lives--an average of twenty-seven thousand a day. . . . [F]or the first time,[Hastings] gives us a magnificent, single-volume history of the entire war." "Through his strikingly detailed stories of everyday people--of soldiers, sailors and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; S S killers and the citizens of Leningrad, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the two-year siege; Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews--Hastings provides a singularly intimate portrait of the world at war. He simultaneously traces the major developments . . . and put them in a real human context." "Hastings also illuminates some of the darker and less explored regions under the war's penumbra, including the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland, during which the Finns fiercely and surprisingly resisted Stalin's invading Red Army; and the Bengal famine of 1943 and 1944, when at least one million people died in what turned out to be, in Nehru's words, 'the final epitaph of British rule' in India." "Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the twentieth century." Also, see Richard J. Evans, "Theater of War," NYT Book Review, Sunday, 11/20/2011.).