Storm Of War,The: A New History Of The Second World War

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From the author of Masters and Commanders, Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic conflict. The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days and claimed the lives of over 50 million people. Why did it take the course that it did? Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Ranging from the Western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he brings the story of the war - and ...
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Overview

From the author of Masters and Commanders, Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic conflict. The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days and claimed the lives of over 50 million people. Why did it take the course that it did? Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Ranging from the Western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he brings the story of the war - and those who fought it - into focus as never before. 'One of the greatest historians of our time ... His masterpiece'
  Oliver Marre, Observer 'An undoubted triumph. This, simply, is the best one-volume history of the Second World War currently available'
  Laurence Rees 'Magnificent ... Stylish penmanship, gritty research and lucid reasoning, coupled with poignant and haunting detours into private lives ruined and shortened'
  Economist 'Moving, thought-provoking, enlightening'
  Roger Moorhouse, Independent 'An exceptional accomplishment ... the definitive single-volume history of the war ... Essential'
  Peter Watts, Time Out 'In what might be his best book yet, Roberts gives us the war as seen from the other side of the hill - the German Reich'
  Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders was one of the most acclaimed, bestselling history books of 2008. His previous books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction, Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership (2003), which coincided with four-part BBC2 history series.
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Editorial Reviews

Timothy Snyder
How did the Wehrmacht, the best fighting force, lose World War II? The reader seeking the answer to this question, posed by Andrew Roberts in his splendid history, will be treated to a brilliantly clear and accessible account of the war in all of its theaters: Asian, African and European. Roberts's descriptions of soldiers and officers are masterly and humane, and his battlefield set pieces are as gripping as any I have ever read. He has visited many of the battlefields, and has an unusually good eye for detail as well as a painterly skill at physical description…He is just as much at home at sea as on land; from Midway to El Alamein his prose is unerringly precise and stirringly vivid. It is hard to imagine a better-told military history of World War II.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This is history as it should be written. Award-winning historian Roberts, a master storyteller, combines a comprehensive command of sources, a sophisticated analytical dimension, and fingertip balance between great events and their personal dimensions. At the center of this "world-historical global cataclysm" was Adolf Hitler. Roberts presents the war as defined by Hitler's mistakes: "so heinous that he should have committed suicide out of sheer embarrassment...." Roberts (Masters and Commanders) says Hitler started the war before Germany was ready. He waged it with resources too limited for his grandiose objectives. He administered it through policies that made the Reich an enduring stench in the nostrils. Japan's war in the Pacific was no less ugly. Yet defeating the Axis required the strengths of three great powers. Roberts describes an Allied strategy shaped by the necessity of developing armed forces to match their foes. Britain kept the field in the war's darkest days. The U.S.S.R. drowned the Reich in "oceans of blood." America provided machines, money, and manpower—over 16 million in uniform. These synergized efforts were sufficient—barely sufficient, says Roberts. At every turn contingencies shaped outcomes that might have been very different absent the skill, will, and desperation demonstrated by the Grand Coalition. 4 pages of b&w photos; maps. (June)
From the Publisher
"Roberts gives [listeners] a new, well-written retelling of the spectacular ebb and flow of World War II." —-Library Journal Starred Review
National Review
“Roberts’s narrative gifts are such that it is almost impossible to read his retelling of these nightmares without some feeling of encountering the new. No history book can ever truly be definitive, but this comes close. Roberts never loses sight of the human side of this epic.”
The Economist
“A magnificent book;It manages to be distinctive but not eccentric, comprehensive in scope but not cramped by detail, giving due weight both to the extraordinary personalities and to the blind economic and physical forces involved.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Elegantly balances fact, thought and fresh, clear prose. . . . Roberts has set a high bar for future historians of mankind’s greatest bloodbath; Roberts splendidly weaves a human tragedy into a story of war’s remorseless statistics.”
The New York Post
“Many World War II books require numerous volumes and thousands of pages. But by marching across huge spans of time and territory with the eye of a determined battlefield soldier, British historian Roberts packs the whole war into one 768-page volume.”
The Shreveport Times
“Roberts has produced a lucid narrative stream that makes his book flow like a novel. I couldn’t put it down.”
Sir - Ian Kershaw
"Andrew Roberts achieves a marvel of concision in producing a splendidly written, comprehensive new history of the greatest conflict in history, The Storm of War—particularly good in its insights into Axis strategy."
Roger Kimball
“Roberts is a great historian because of a rare triune mastery: of the movement of history, in both its broad sweep and particular revelatory detail; a felicitous prose style and gift for narrative; and a commanding moral vision.”
Timothy Snyder
“Gripping. . . . splendid history. A brilliantly clear and accessible account of the war in all its theaters. Roberts’s prose is unerringly precise and strikingly vivid. It is hard to imagine a better-told military history of World War II.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Elegantly balances fact, thought and fresh, clear prose. . . . Roberts has set a high bar for future historians of mankind’s greatest bloodbath. . . . Roberts splendidly weaves a human tragedy into a story of war’s remorseless statistics.”
The Economist
“A magnificent book. . . . It manages to be distinctive but not eccentric, comprehensive in scope but not cramped by detail, giving due weight both to the extraordinary personalities and to the blind economic and physical forces involved.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore
“The best full history of World War II yet written.”
Tina Brown
“In one irresistibly readable book, Roberts has done what I thought was impossible—given us the whole bloody second world war from the brass buttons of the generals down to the mud-filled trenches and stretching across the globe.”
The Tucson Citizen
“Roberts underscores the factors that affected the war’s outcome and raises a number of intriguing questions. . . . Accessible, meticulously researched, and executed with clarity.”
The Tucson Citizen
“Roberts underscores the factors that affected the war’s outcome and raises a number of intriguing questions. . . . Accessible, meticulously researched, and executed with clarity.”
National Review
“Roberts’s narrative gifts are such that it is almost impossible to read his retelling of these nightmares without some feeling of encountering the new. No history book can ever truly be definitive, but this comes close. Roberts never loses sight of the human side of this epic.”
The American Spectator
“A concise but comprehensive history that gets to the heart of one mankind’s greatest struggles. . . . Thanks to Roberts’s mastery of substance, style, and, yes, statistics, readers can now enjoy a one-volume history of that war that is far superior to most of the works preceding it.”
The Shreveport Times
“Roberts has produced a lucid narrative stream that makes his book flow like a novel. I couldn’t put it down.”
The New York Post
“Many World War II books require numerous volumes and thousands of pages. But by marching across huge spans of time and territory with the eye of a determined battlefield soldier, British historian Roberts packs the whole war into one 768-page volume.”
Michael Korda
“With his new book on the Second World War, British historian Andrew Roberts has not only written the single best history of that conflict but has also claimed his place as one of our top historians.”
Piers Brendon
“Roberts is a first-rate historian. He has a sharp eye for a good subject and a knack of getting to its heart. The second world war, which cost more than 50 million lives, has a perennial fascination that Roberts conveys through an admirably lucid narrative.”
Sir Ian Kershaw
“Andrew Roberts achieves a marvel of concision in producing a splendidly written, comprehensive new history of the greatest conflict in history, The Storm of War—particularly good in its insights into Axis strategy.”
Nigel Jones
“In what might be his best book yet, Roberts gives us the war as seen from the other side of the hill. He has the knack of making complex military operations comprehensible and salting the grand strategic sweep with vignettes of how it felt to be a soldier.”
Library Journal
Roberts (Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941–1945) gives readers a new, well-written retelling of the spectacular ebb and flow of World War II, mainly analyzing the European war, particularly German operations and Allied reactions. In some ways this is a psychological study of the various leaders. Roberts blames Hitler (rather than German army leaders) for the Axis defeat and argues that his obsessive Nazi ideology lead to disastrous military decisions. However, Roberts takes the German military leaders to task for not standing up to their pathological leader. Had Hitler let his generals do their job, the war would have lasted longer. Whether or not Germany could have won, it might have avoided total defeat. Roberts concludes that Britain, America, and the USSR needed one another to gain victory. A well-sourced and well-told introduction for general readers that will also be enjoyed by those in the know.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141029283
  • Publisher: Penguin UK
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Pages: 792
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders was one of the most acclaimed, bestselling history books of 2008. His previous books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction, Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership (2003), which coincided with four-part BBC2 history series. He is one of Britain's most prominent journalists and broadcasters.
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Read an Excerpt

The Storm of War

A New History of the Second World War
By Andrew Roberts

HarperCollins

Copyright © 2011 Andrew Roberts
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061228599


Chapter One

Four Invasions
September 1939–April 1940
If we lose this war, then God have mercy on us.
Hermann Go¨ ring to Hitler's interpreter,
Paul Schmidt, 3 September 1939

Although the international situation, and his months of saber rattling
against Poland, meant that his invasion of that country could not be
a surprise attack, Hitler hoped, with good reason, that the Wehrmacht's
new Blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactics would deliver a tactical
shock to the Poles. Blitzkrieg tactics, which relied on very close,
radio-controlled contact between fast-moving tank columns,
motorized artillery, Luftwaffe bombers and fighters and truck borne
infantry, swept all before them. Hitler's dislike of static, attritional warfare
was a natural response to his years in the 16th Bavarian Infantry
Regiment between 1914 and 1918. His job as a Meldeganger
(battalion runner) in that conflict involved waiting for a gap in artillery
salvoes and then springing forward in a semi-crouched stance, sprinting
from trench to shell-hole taking messages. He was thus brave
and conscientious, probably never killed anyone himself, and always
refused promotions that would take him away from his comrades
because, as his regimental adjutant Fritz Wiedemann later stated, 'For
Gefreiter [Corporal] Hitler, the Regiment was home.'2 He even won
two Iron Crosses, Second Class and First Class.
Having survived four years of stalemate and attrition, Hitler had learned by
the age of twenty-nine, when the war ended, that tactical surprise was of
inestimable advantage in warfare, and as he was later to write in Mein Kampf:
'Even a man of thirty will have much to learn in the course of his life, but
this will only be a supplement.' Throughout
his political career as a revolutionary, he constantly attempted to
employ surprise, usually with great success. The attempted coup of
1923 known as the Beerhall Putsch had surprised even its titular
leader, General Ludendorff, and Rohm had had no inkling of the
Night of the Long Knives. Yet the Poles were expecting Hitler's sudden
attack, because exactly one week beforehand their country had been
invaded by a tiny detachment of Germans who had not been informed
of the postponement of the invasion originally planned for dawn on
Saturday, 26 August.
Part of Germany's plan to invade Poland, Fall Weiss (Plan White),
involved small groups of Germans dressed in Rauberzivil (robbers'
civvies) crossing the border the night before and seizing key strategic
points before dawn on the day of the invasion. The secret Abwehr
(German intelligence) battalion detailed to undertake these operations
was given the euphemistic title of Construction Training Company
800 for Special Duties. A twenty-four-man group under the command
of Lieutenant Dr Hans-Albrecht Herzner was instructed to prepare the
way for the assault of the 7th Infantry Division by infiltrating the
border and capturing a railway station at Mosty in the Jablunka Pass
running through the Carpathian mountains, to prevent the destruction
of the single-track railway tunnel which was the shortest connection
between Warsaw and Vienna.3 Crossing the border into the forests at
00.30 on 26 August, Herzner's group got lost and was split up in the
dark, but Herzner managed to capture the railway station at Mosty
with thirteen men at 03.30 and cut the telephone and telegraph lines,
only to discover that the Polish detonators had already been removed
from the tunnel by the defenders. Polish tunnel guards then attacked
his unit, wounding one of his men. Out of contact with the Abwehr,
Herzner could not know that, with only a few hours to go, the
previous evening Hitler had postponed Plan White until the following
week, and that every other commando unit had been informed of this
except his. It was not until 09.35 that the Abwehr finally managed to
get through and order Herzner, who by then had lost another man
wounded and had killed a Pole in the firefight, to release his prisoners
and return to base immediately.
After a further series of incidents Herzner's group recrossed the
border at 13.30. The German Government explained to the Poles that
the whole affair had been a mistake due to the lack of a defined border
line in the forest. As the operation had not been an official military
one, therefore, and had taken place in peacetime, Herzner very
teutonically put in for overnight expenses of 55 Reichsmarks and
86 pfennigs. Equally teutonically, the authorities did not initially
want to award him the Iron Cross (Second Class) for exploits that
technically took place in peacetime. (They eventually did, but it did
him little good after breaking his back in a motor accident in 1942
Herzner drowned during his swimming therapy.)
On 28 August Hitler had abrogated the 1934 German–Polish
non-aggression treaty – a curious and unusual act of legalism from him –
so the Poles could hardly have had a clearer indication that Germany
was on the verge of invading their country, but they could have had
little intimation of Blitzkrieg tactics, hitherto the preserve of certain
German and British theoretical tacticians. They could estimate
accurately where and roughly when the attack would come, but crucially
not how. The Poles therefore chose to place the bulk of their troops
close to the German border. The Munich crisis the previous autumn, and Hitler's
seizure of Therumpof Czechoslovakia the following spring,
meant that Poland's border with the Reich had been extended from
1,250 to a full 1,750 miles, much further than the Polish Army could
adequately defend. Its commander-in-chief, Marshal Edward
S´migły-Rydz, therefore had to decide whether to keep the majority of his forces
back behind the natural defensive line formed by the Vistula, San and
Narev rivers, or to try to protect Poland's industrial heartlands and
best agricultural land in the west of the country.
S'migły-Rydz decided to commit his troops to defending every inch
of Polish soil, which left them perilously exposed. He attempted to
deploy across the whole front from Lithuania to the Carpathians, and
even kept a special assault group for invading East Prussia, retaining
one-third of his force in Poznia and the Polish Corridor. As so often
in the history of poor, martyred Poland, the dispositions were brave;
otherwise S´migły-Rydz would simply have had to abandon cities as
important as Krako´w, Poznan´, Bydgoszcz and Ło´dz´, which all lay to
the west of the three rivers. Nonetheless, it is hard not to agree with
Major-General Frederick von Mellenthin, then the intelligence officer
of the German III Corps, that Polish 'plans were lacking a sense of
reality'.
At 17.30 hours on Thursday, 31 August 1939, Hitler ordered hostilities
to start the next morning, and this time there would be no
postponement. So at 04.45 on Friday, 1 September German forces
activated Plan White, which had been formulated that June by the
German Army High Command, the Oberkommando des Heeres
(OKH). The OKH was composed of the commander-in-chief of the
Field Army (Feldheer), the Army General Staff, the Army Personnel
Office and the commander-in-chief of the Reserve Army (Ersatzheer).
Above the OKH in terms of creating grand strategy was the
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Armed Forces High Command, or OKW).
Soon after assuming personal command of the German armed forces
in February 1938, Hitler had created the OKW to function as his
military staff under his direct command, with Keitel as its chief.
Whereas Blomberg had been strenuously opposed by the Navy and
Army in his efforts to set up a unified high command, Hitler was not
to be baulked. In August 1939, when general mobilization went ahead,
OKW consisted of the office of the Chief of Staff (Keitel), a central
administrative division, the armed forces administration office (under
Jodl) which kept Hitler informed of the military situation, an
Intelligence office under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, a war production office
and various smaller units concerned with military justice and finance.
According to Plan White, on either side of a relatively weak and
stationary center, two powerful wings of the Wehrmacht would
envelop Poland, crush its armed forces and capture Warsaw. Army
Group North, under Colonel-General Fedor von Bock, would smash
through the Polish Corridor, take Danzig (present-day Gdan´sk), unite
with the German Third Army in East Prussia, and move swiftly to
attack the Polish capital from the north. Meanwhile an even stronger
Army Group South, under Colonel-General Gerd von Rundstedt,
would punch between the larger Polish forces facing it; push east all
the way to Lvov, but also assault Warsaw from the west and north.
(At the Jablunka Pass, the Poles did at least destroy the railway tunnel,
which was not reopened until 1948.)
The Polish Corridor, which had been intended by the framers of
the Versailles Treaty of 1919 to cut off East Prussia from the rest of
Germany, had long been presented as a casus belli by the Nazis, as
had the ethnically German Baltic port of Danzig, but as Hitler had
told a conference of generals in May 1939, 'Danzig is not the real
issue; the real point is for us to open up our Lebensraum to the east
and ensure our supplies of foodstuffs.' Yet much more than mere
practicalities drove Hitler. This was to be an existential conflict,
fulfilling the prophecies he had made fourteen years before in his political
testimony Mein Kampf. The German master race would subjugate the
Slavs – Untermenschen (subhumans) according to Nazi precepts of
racial hierarchy – and use their territory to nurture a new Aryan
civilization. This was to be the world's first wholly politically
ideological war, and it is a contention of this book that that was the primary
reason why the Nazis eventually lost it.
The strategy of having a weak center and two powerful flanks was
a brilliant one, and was believed to have derived from Field Marshal
Count Alfred von Schlieffen's celebrated pre-Great War study of
Hannibal's tactics at the battle of Cannae. Whatever the provenance
it worked well, slipping German armies neatly between Polish ones
and enabling them to converge on Warsaw from different angles almost
simultaneously. Yet what made it irresistible was not German
preponderance in men and arms, but above all the new military doctrine of
Blitzkrieg. Poland was a fine testing ground for Blitzkrieg tactics:
although it had lakes, forests and bad roads, it was nonetheless flat, with
immensely wide fronts and firm, late summer ground ideal for tanks.
Because the British and French Governments, fearful that Germany
was about to invade at any moment, had given their guarantee to
Poland on 1 April 1939, with the British Prime Minister Neville
Chamberlain formally promising her 'all support in the power' of the
Allies should she be attacked, Hitler was forced to leave a large
proportion of his hundred-division Army in the west, guarding the
Siegfried Line, or 'West Wall' – a 3-mile-deep series of still-incomplete
fortifications along Germany's western frontier. The fear of a war on
two fronts led the Fu¨hrer to detail no fewer than forty divisions to
protect his back. However, three-quarters of these were only second
rate units and they had been left with only three days' ammunition.
His best troops, along with all his armored and mobile divisions and
almost all his aircraft, Hitler devoted to the attack on Poland.
Plan White was drawn up by the OKH planners, with Hitler merely
putting his imprimatur on the final document. At this early stage of
the war there was a good deal of genuine mutual respect between
Hitler and his generals, aided by the fact that he had not so far
interfered too closely in their troop dispositions and planning; his two
Iron Crosses gave him some standing with his generals. Hitler's own
self-confidence in military affairs was singular. This may have come
in part from the sense of superiority of many veteran infantrymen
that it was they who had borne the brunt of the fighting in the Great
War. Both the OKW Chief of Staff Wilhelm Keitel, and his
lieutenant, the Chief of the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, Alfred Jodl, had
been artillerymen and Staff officers in the Great War: their battle had
been an indirect one, although Keitel had been wounded. General
Walther von Reichenau, Colonel-General Walther von Brauchitsch
and General Hans von Kluge were also artillerymen, and General Paul
von Kleist and Lieutenant-General Erich Manstein had been in the
cavalry (although Manstein too had been wounded). Some generals,
such as Heinz Guderian, had been in Signals, and others such as
Maximilian von Weichs had spent most of the war on the General
Staff. Whatever the reason, Hitler was not as cowed as an ex-corporal
would usually have been among generals. Although he had been a mere
Meldeganger, he would also have learnt something about tactics.
It is possible that had Hitler been a German citizen he would have
been commissioned; knowing this himself, he might well have emerged
from the war with a sense of being capable of commanding a battalion,
which only a technicality had prevented.

Many of the generals of 1939 had spent the 1920s in the paramilitary
militia known as the Freikorps and the tiny 'Treaty' Army that was permitted under
Versailles. Before Hitler came to power, this had involved little more
than Staff work, training and studying. That would not have overly
impressed Hitler, whatever titular rank those serving in it had
achieved. For all that former Lieutenant-Colonel Winston Churchill was to mock
'Corporal' Hitler for his lowly Great War rank in the trenches, the Fuhrer
seems to have been under no inferiority complex when dealing directly with
soldiers who had wildly outranked him in the previous conflict.
Plan White devoted sixty divisions to the conquest of Poland, including
five Panzer divisions of 300 tanks each, four light divisions (of
fewer tanks and some horses) and four fully motorized divisions (with
lorry-borne infantry), as well as 3,600 operational aircraft and much
of the powerful Kriegsmarine (German Navy). Poland meanwhile had
only thirty infantry divisions, eleven cavalry brigades, two mechanized
brigades, 300 medium and light tanks, 1,154 field guns and 400
aircraft ready for combat (of which only 36 Łos´ aircraft were not
obsolete), as well as a fleet of only four modern destroyers and five
submarines. Although these forces comprised fewer than one million
men, Poland tried to mobilize her reservists, but that was far from
complete when the devastating blow fell from 630,000 German troops
under Bock and 886,000 under Rundstedt.
As dawn broke on 1 September, Heinkel He-111 bombers, with
top speeds of 350kph carrying 2,000-kilogram loads, as well as
Dorniers and Junkers Ju-87 (Stuka) dive-bombers, began pounding Polish
roads, airfields, railway junctions, munition dumps, mobilization
centers and cities, including Warsaw. Meanwhile, the training ship
Schleswig Holstein in Danzig Harbor started shelling the Polish
garrison at Westerplatte. The Stukas had special sirens attached whose
screams hugely intensified the terror of those below.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Storm of War by Andrew Roberts Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Roberts. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

List of Maps xv

Preface liii

Prelude: The Pact 1

Part I Onslaught

1 Four Invasions: September 1939-April 1940 15

2 Führer Imperator: May-June 1940 48

3 Last Hope Island: June 1940-June 1941 87

4 Contesting the Littoral: September 1939-June 1942 119

5 Kicking in the Door: June-December 1941 136

6 Tokyo Typhoon: December 1941-May 1942 185

Part II Climacteric

7 The Everlasting Shame of Mankind: 1939-1945 219

8 Five Minutes at Midway: June 1942-October 1944 251

9 Midnight in the Devil's Gardens: July 1942-May 1943 281

10 The Motherland Overwhelms the Fatherland: January 1942-February 1943 315

11 The Waves of Air and Sea: 1939-1945 346

12 Up the Wasp-Waist Peninsula: July 1943-May 1945 375

Part III Retribution

13 A Salient Reversal: March-August 1943 409

14 The Cruel Reality: 1939-1945 429

15 Norman Conquest: June-August 1944 461

16 Western Approaches: August 1944-March 1945 491

17 Eastern Approaches: August 1943-May 1945 520

18 The Land of the Setting Sun: October 1944-September 1945 564

Conclusion: Why Did the Axis Lose the Second World War? 578

Notes 609

Bibliography 648

Index 677

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Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

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