BOOKS & DATA DISCS
This month’s family history inspiration
You would have thought we would have had enough by now, but still they come: book after book about the Second World War.
In particular there are a number of general histories. This account of the war is surprisingly good. Unusually it isn’t entirely focussed on the Anglo-American experience. For example, it includes much about the Eastern Front, which remained largely a mystery until the opening of Russian archives after the collapse of the Soviet state.
There’s also a due emphasis on the war in the Far East – again something British readers may know relatively little about. I found the section on China especially useful as it was something I hadn’t come across before. There are also sections explaining why the war happened in the first place and the Cold War that resulted from rivalry between the Western Allies and the Soviets at the end of the conflict.
An impressive tally of about 150 double-page spreads, roughly arranged in chronological order, give this the feel of a magazine rather than a book, though.
And, as you would expect from a Dorling Kindersley title, it is profusely illustrated with half a dozen photographs and maps per spread.
The cartography is particularly fine, and there are some unusual photographs, too, although not all are given the prominence they deserve and the reproduction is curiously dark.
Each spread also includes a short essay describing the events and putting them into context.
In addition, there are boxes with statistics, quotes from the participants as well as short biographies of key protagonists.
This is not a profound book. It is designed for somebody who has a vague interest about the subject and who might dip into it if they wan ted to know more e after having seen n a TV programme e. Some of thee assertions made in particular would make an expert blush h. But if you know little or nothing about the Second World War and would like to learn more, then this is a very good introduction to the subject.
US troops wade to shore under heavy machine gun fire during the D- Day invasion of Nazi- occupied France