Monday, October 24, 2011

Five best books about the beginnings of the Second World War

Richard Overy's books include 1939: Countdown to War.

One of his five best books on the beginnings of World War II, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The Triumph of the Dark
by Zara Steiner (2010)

Every now and again, a book comes along that merits being called "definitive." Zara Steiner's "The Triumph of the Dark" is the most thorough, wide-ranging and carefully argued narrative available on the tumultuous decade that ended in world war. Every historian of the period will stand in Steiner's debt. Not everyone will agree with some of her arguments. Steiner is particularly tough on Neville Chamberlain, taking him to task for being so blinded by anticommunism that he failed to appreciate how a British-French-Soviet alliance in the 1930s might have stopped Hitler's military expansion. That was Churchill's view too, so she is in good company. Whether Stalin would have signed up, of course, remains open to question. But reading Steiner on the subject at least provides the comforts of contemplating an alternative storyline, one in which the dark does not triumph.
Read about the other other books on Overy's list.

--Marshal Zeringue