Thursday, August 25, 2011

World War Two - A Military History

It is always helpful to explain what a book is about, not least for a subject that is so extensively and ably covered in the available literature. This book is a military history, primarily operational in its scope, and deliberately written with the interests of students in mind. It draws heavily on my experience of teaching military history at the University of Exeter, and will most appropriately be judged by those and other students. The audience in part shapes the approach, not least the decision to keep notes to a minimum. The approach also owes much to a prominent recent work, Joanna Bourkes The Second World War: A Peoples History (Oxford, 2001). Although well written, engaged and conceptually up-to-date, with a particularly impressive focus on the experience of ordinary people and the remembrance of war, liourke s treatment of the subject is one that I have reacted against. Her book displays the demilitarisation of war, a tendency that is all too frequent in the secondary literature, not least the absence of sufficient discussion of issues such as military capability.