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Axelrod (The Real History of the American Revolution) set out to write "a good basic book on World War II" that would be "purposely concise, nonacademic...and straightforward." He has succeeded in all respects. His book traces the origins of the war back to the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. Using a refreshing, lively narrative to cover the entire scope of the war and also to discusses the postwar implications of the conflict, he expertly explains the ideological, economic, nationalistic, military, and other interrelated issues that played a part in the war's enactment. The text is lavishly illustrated with pertinent photos and maps and insightful sidebars that provide commentary and analysis, as well as alternate historical theories and other useful details. The author provides a "Dramatis Personae" that covers some 100 politicians, military leaders, and other individuals who played major roles in the war and are detailed in the narrative. Each theater of the war is covered in a coherent manner that clarifies how each impacted the other. Reading more like a novel than a dry compilation of facts and figures, this work condenses a vast amount of material into a workable and entertaining study that will increase its readers' taste for history. A solid, well-researched book that should be considered by all collections.