- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Antony Beevor has won an undeserved reputation as a historian. H
Antony Beevor has won an undeserved reputation as a historian. His book on Stalingrad plagiarised John Erickson’s far better books on the war on the Eastern Front, and his book on the war in Spain plagiarised Hugh Thomas’ book.
On the big questions of the Second World War, Beevor reveals his out-dated prejudices. He has never a good word to say about our allies, the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party. He relies on Jon Halliday and Jung Chang for ‘correcting’ his account of Japan’s war on China.
Early in his book he writes, “The Japanese had recently been taken aback by Communist forces in northern China launching a series of attacks.” And, “The Communists managed to push back the Japanese in many places, cut the Peking-Hankow railway, destroy coal mines and even carry out attacks into Manchuria. This major effort, using their forces in more conventional tactics, cost them 22,000 casualties which they could ill afford.”
These conclusions contradict his later claim (made after talks with Halliday and Chang?) that “Communist supporters such as Edgar Snow had managed to persuade readers in the United States that Mao’s forces were fighting hard while the corrupt Nationalists were doing little, when in fact the opposite was true.”
Beevor writes of “the Great Leap Forward which killed more people than in the whole of the Second World War … the seventy million victims of a regime that was in many ways worse than Stalinism”. Is it too much to ask that he checks the facts, rather than just repeat Chang and Halliday’s absurd lies?
Beevor writes, “Relations between the western Allies and Stalin were bound to be fraught with suspicion. Churchill especially had promised far more military supplies than Britain was able deliver [sic]. And the American President’s disastrous assurance to Molotov in May that they would launch a Second Front before the end of the year did more to poison the Grand Alliance than anything else. Stalin’s paranoid tendencies persuaded him that the capitalist countries simply wanted the Soviet Union to be weakened while they waited.”
Churchill had of course backed Roosevelt’s promise. After the facts that Beevor cited, it seems a little rude to call Stalin paranoid for noticing these same facts and drawing the correct conclusion.
Beevor ends by trying to blame Hitler and Stalin equally for the war. He calls the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany two ‘totalitarians’, ignoring the crucial difference that the Soviet Union did all it could to prevent the most terrible war in history, while Nazi Germany did all it could to start it. Beevor is too mean-minded and hidebound to acknowledge that without Stalin and the Red Army we would all be living – if at all - in Hitler’s concentration camps.
This is not so much a history of the Second World War as a stream of anecdotes, verging all too often on war porn.
7 out of 29 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2012