Map­ping the Se­cond World War

By Peter Chas­seaud

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(Collins in as­so­ci­a­tion with the IWM, 304 pages, £30) Fol­low­ing his su ccess­ful and well-re­viewe ed Map­ping The First World War, mil­i­tary his­to­ria n and car­tog­ra­pher Peter Chas­seaudd now turns his at­ten­tion to the Se­cond World War.

Be­gin­ning with­ith an overview of how maps in­flu­enced political and mil­i­tary think­ing, as well as show­ing the dis­tri­bu­tion of en­emy re­sources, the dis­po­si­tion of troops, sub­marines, de­fences, air­craft and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, he looks first at the causes of the war, then at the in­di­vid­ual the­atres and fronts.

Us­ing maps, politi­cians and gen­er­als planned their strate­gies and ex­plained them­selves to their troops and the pub­lic. The sheer num­bers are stag­ger­ing – more than 400 mil­lion sheets were pro­duced in Bri­tain alone, with many mil­lions more abroad; the United States pro­duced 80 mil­lion for D-Day and Nor­mandy. In 1945, with the na­tion col­laps­ing, Ger­many still pro­duced 16 mil­lion.

Maps, beau­ti­fully re­pro­duced in colour, ob­vi­ously dom­i­nate the book. Luft­waffe tar­get maps for Lon­don docks and plans for the Ger­man in­va­sion of Bri­tain stand out for 1940. There are maps of the To­bruk de­fences and El Alamein from North Africa and those il­lus­trat­ing the progress of the Bat­tle of Mid­way in the Pa­cific, of op­er­a­tions in Burma and the de­feat of Ja­pan. Bomber Com­mand maps show Ger­man tar­gets and there are ex­am­ples that il­lus­trate the in­va­sion of Italy and Ger­man ones show­ing how Ital­ian par­ti­sans helped the Al­lies. There is also a sec­tion on how they plot­ted the D-Day land­ings and charted the progress of the in­va­sion. Maps of the Rus­sian Front show the enor­mous scale of Rus­sia’s con­tri­bu­tion in break­ing the back of the Ger­man army.

The only ab­sence is the lack of any small-scale maps that would’ve been used by small units plan­ning their op­er­a­tions.

As in Chas­seaud’s first book, there’s a full ex­plana­tory text, which puts the maps into con­text, con­tem­po­rary pho­tos (some in colour) and ex­plana­tory ap­pen­dices. The whole is a beau­ti­fully pro­duced pack­age that will in­ter­est mil­i­tary his­to­ri­ans and map lovers alike.

A map of Moscow as used in the Se­cond World War

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