All Hell Let Loose
The World at War 1939-1945
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From one of our finest historians, a magisterial account of the most terrible event in history – World War II.
The horror of World War II touched the lives of millions across the globe. Few could find the words to describe it, only that the carnage they experienced resembled ‘all hell let loose’.
The eminent historian Max Hastings here encapsulates life through war for the ordinary people involved –soldiers, sailors and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad: Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews. This ‘everyman’s story’ employs top-down analysis and bottom-up testimony to reveal the meaning of this vast conflict and ultimately answer the question ‘what was World War II like?’.
‘Unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written’ Sunday Times
‘This global history of the Second World War is the best there is’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Vintage Hastings’ Antony Beevor, author of the forthcoming “The Second World War”
‘This is military history at its most gripping’ Ian Kershaw
‘All Hell Let Loose conveys the pity of the war and its immediate aftermath with scholarship and proper sympathy’ Observer
About the author
Max Hastings studied at Charterhouse and Oxford and became a foreign correspondent, reporting from more than sixty countries and eleven wars for BBC TV and the London Evening Standard. He has won many awards for his journalism. Among his best-selling books ‘Bomber Command’ won the Somerset Maugham Prize, and both ‘Overlord’ and ‘Battle for the Falklands’ won the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Prize. After ten years as editor and then editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph, he became editor of the Evening Standard in 1996. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he was knighted in 2002. He now lives in Berkshire.
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!
The author's central thesis is that participants in war can only understand their own experience. Using this as his starting point Hastings intertwines the ebb and flow of the Second World War from the 40,000 foot view to the man under the sea. As a bonus for American readers he has provided the best analysis of Bernard Law Montgomery from a British author that I have ever read. Although calling Patton deranged was difficult to take no matter how accurate.