BOOKS & DATA DISCS

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Richard Holmes Si­mon Fowler is a pro­fes­sional writer and his­tory re­searcher

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

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