No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe: 1939-1945

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Overview

One of the world's leading historians re-examines World War II and its outcome

If history really belongs to the victor, what happens when there's more than one side declaring victory? That's the conundrum Norman Davies unravels in his absorbing new book No Simple Victory. Far from being a revisionist history, this is instead a clear-eyed reappraisal, offering new insight by reevaluating well-established facts, as well as pointing out ...

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Overview

One of the world's leading historians re-examines World War II and its outcome

If history really belongs to the victor, what happens when there's more than one side declaring victory? That's the conundrum Norman Davies unravels in his absorbing new book No Simple Victory. Far from being a revisionist history, this is instead a clear-eyed reappraisal, offering new insight by reevaluating well-established facts, as well as pointing out lesser-known ones.

Davies asks readers to reconsider what they know about World War II, and how the received wisdom might be biased or incorrect. He poses simple questions that have complicated and unexpected answers. For instance, Can you name the five biggest battles of the war in Europe? Or, What were the main political ideologies that were contending for supremacy? The answers to these and other questions-and the implications of those answers-will surprise even those who feel that they are experts on the subject.

Norman Davies has established himself as one of the preeminent scholars of World War II history, in the tradition of John Keegan and Antony Beevor. No Simple Victory is an invaluable contribution to twentieth century history and an illuminating portrait of a conflict which continues to raise questions and provoke debate today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Davies's latest book about the Second World War is an extended argument that most Americans and Europeans-even well-educated ones-have failed to grasp even the most basic facts about the single largest event of the 20th century. His polemic is laid out slowly and carefully, beginning with the mistakes (the American WWII memorial lists the years of the war as 1941-1945) and proceeding from there. Such a book requires a reader who can hold listeners' attention for long stretches of facts and figures, and Vance is just the man. He sounds like a narrator for a History Channel documentary, and considering the topic, this is perfect for Davies's book. Vance makes Davies's work not another rehashing of familiar material, but a riveting, sustained performance. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, June 25). (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Davies (Supernumerary Fellow, Wolfson Coll., Oxford; Rising '44: The Battle of Warsaw) reappraises the war and demolishes many of the myths accreted around it. A lively and contrary historiography, skillfully written and far from humorless, this should be in any subject collection. Where were the seven battles fought that had the most casualties? Americans might know one or two. Hint: all were on the Eastern Front.


—Edwin B. Burgess
Kirkus Reviews
World War II study that seeks to challenge traditional and, Davies (Rising '44: The Battle of Warsaw, 2004, etc.) argues, glaringly inaccurate narratives of the event. This alternative history not only focuses on what has been wrongly said about the war, but also on what has not been said and why. Common myths about the war that have heretofore been regarded as fact-such as what the largest concentration camp in Europe was-are convincingly dispelled. Davies believes it is dangerous to view the Western Powers as fair-minded and democratic, when they naively stood by while victims of Stalin's tyrannical regime could "be counted not in hundreds or thousands, or even millions, but in tens of millions." In seeking to explain how such atrocities could be allowed to occur, Davies moves into a discussion of morality during the war and posits the answers to some uncomfortable questions. Why has the extent of the Soviet Union's devastating involvement in the conflict previously been understated or even rationalized by the West? Why was the expulsion of ethnic Germans from certain former German provinces virtually ignored after the war? In passages on warfare, politics, soldiers and civilians, Davies provides a detailed and personal history of the conflict. In discussing the fate of the soldiers, and the improvement in military psychiatry, he uses an unusual example-British army veteran and popular comic Spike Milligan-to prove his point. It is to the author's credit that he not only deconstructs the foundations of World War II history, but also explains how these misconceptions were built in the first place, giving a detailed account of the ways in which the war has been portrayed in film, art andliterature, and how this has subsequently affected public perception. Emphasizes why it is necessary to continue to examine and amend a complex story whose many facets will take much more searching to be told. Agent: David Godwin/David Godwin Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641956997
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/6/2007
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Davies is the bestselling author of Europe: A History, The Isles: A History, and Rising '44. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and professor emeritus at London University.
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