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A World at Arms: A Global History of World…

A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (1994)

by Gerhard L. Weinberg

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I've been looking forward to learning about more contemporary history and I decided that World War II was the next topic on my agenda. World War II is prevalent enough in public consciousness that I knew a lot of random facts about it, but I wanted an overview of the war and how all the pieces fit together. I wasn’t sure where to start, but I found that the Ask Historians subreddit (which is pretty amazing) has a book recommendation list, which is where I found A World at Arms.

The recommendation entry for A World at Arms describes the book as “one of the best histories of the Second World War from a global perspective”, and although I haven’t read any other World War II histories, I would agree with that. Weinberg covers a vast scope – every theater and front, including the “home fronts” of all countries involved in the war, sociopolitical changes, international relations, economic changes, strategy, and so on. The book seemed meticulously researched, the references are extensive, and Weinberg often mentions which sources he used or did not have access to when proposing a theory for why something happened a certain way.

The writing style is somewhat dry, but there’s so much information packed into every paragraph that I didn’t mind at all. Even on days when I was only able to read 20 pages or so, I still felt like I was learning rapidly. Also, didn’t notice any huge biases by the author, which I found refreshing when compared to a lot of other non-fiction I’ve read. I guess it makes sense from such an academic book, though.

Because of the scope of the book, most of the detail in it is about high level strategy and machinations; there isn’t much of a perspective from the trenches. I happened to be watching the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (which follows the American “Easy Company” attached to the 101st Airborne Division) at the same time that I was reading this book, though, and I found that to be a nice “on the ground” complement to the global view that A World at Arms offered. ( )
  kgodey | Apr 11, 2017 |
WONDERFUL book by a scholar with the broadest grasp of the conflict, its origins and implications in all their political and global dimensions. Highly recommended, intelligent book. For the reader prepared to work to understand the conflict in its myriad complexities. ( )
3 vote stellarexplorer | Sep 24, 2008 |
4252 A World at Arms A Global History of World War II, by Gerhard L. Weinberg (read 31 Dec 2006) This is a masterful account of World War II, the best I think I have ever read. I read Robert Leckie's Delivered from Evil on Feb 4, 1989 and greatly enjoyed it, but this book is better researched and I believe is better, though with 920 pages of text, a 23 page bibliographic essay, 75 pages of notes, and 31 pages of maps, it should be. Though I lived thru the war and followed its course intently, and have read much on it since, I felt I was not merely retreading familiar ground but learning much I never knew or had forgotten. His opinions are convincingly supported and I think he is right in most of them, maybe in all of them. Certainly he has done more research than most writers on the most important event in our lifetime. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 30, 2007 |
Pretty definitive, pretty huge. ( )
  wenestvedt | Oct 10, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
Gerhard L. Weinberg's "A World at Arms," first published in 1994 and reprinted five times since 2005, focuses on the underlying strategic, industrial and economic factors that determined the course of the war. There is no mystery, he argues, about Hitler's decision to declare war on the U.S. after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. "Hitler had long intended to fight the United States" but felt his navy was inadequate. "If the Japanese . . . took the plunge, then his naval deficit would automatically disappear." Mr. Weinberg is less engaged by actual military action: He describes the epic naval Battle of Midway in barely two pages of a 920-page book.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0521443172, Hardcover)

This comprehensive examination of the Second World War looks at grand strategy and diplomacy, as opposed to the gritty details of the combat experience. A World at Arms is written in a matter-of-fact tone, so don't expect a poetic narrative. Despite this, no other historian has presented such a sweeping overview. Weinberg performs the important task of reminding his readers in the West that much of the fighting--and perhaps the most decisive parts--was done in the East, between the Germans and the Russians. American readers, for their part, may appreciate Weinberg's treatment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who is portrayed as a courageous wartime leader. This book is an essential part of any library on the Second World War.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the Publisher: In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II. Actions of the Axis, the Allies, and the Neutrals are covered in every theater of the war. More importantly, the global nature of the war is examined, with new insights into how events in one corner of the world helped affect events in often distant areas.… (more)

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