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The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941: The War in the West, Volume 1
     

The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941: The War in the West, Volume 1

by James Holland
 

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For seven decades, our understanding of World War II has been shaped by a standard narrative built on conventional wisdom, propaganda, the dramatic but narrow experiences of soldiers on the ground, and an early generation of historians. For his new history, James Holland has spent over twelve years unearthing new research, recording original testimony, and

Overview


For seven decades, our understanding of World War II has been shaped by a standard narrative built on conventional wisdom, propaganda, the dramatic but narrow experiences of soldiers on the ground, and an early generation of historians. For his new history, James Holland has spent over twelve years unearthing new research, recording original testimony, and visiting battlefields and archives that have never before been so accessible. In The Rise of Germany, the first of a major new three-part history of World War II in the West, he weaves together the experiences of dozens of individuals, from civilians and infantrymen, to line officers, military strategists, diplomats, and heads of state, as well as war strategy, tactics, and the economic, political, and social aspects of the war to create a captivating book that redefines and enhances our understanding of one of the most significant conflicts in history. Beginning with the lead-up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and ending in 1941 on the eve of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia, The Rise of Germany is a masterful history of the war on land, in the air, and at sea, destined to generate significant scholarly debate and reader interest.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/24/2015
In this first of a three-volume history of WWII in Western Europe and the Mediterranean, British historian Holland (The Dam Busters) discusses the major battles, events, and factors important to the first two years of conflict in Western Europe. Relying on archival research, extensive secondary sources, and personal memoirs, Holland nimbly weaves the complex military, diplomatic, political, economic, and social patterns that marked the conflict on a global scale. He organizes the book by the major military events of the early war period: the road to war, the fall of France, the Battle of Britain, and the war at sea and operations around the Mediterranean. Impressively for so weighty a subject, Holland keeps the reader engaged by showing the major events through the eyes of the participants—at the strategic level with politicians and generals, and at the tactical level with common soldiers and civilians. Though it would have been easy to fill the book with descriptions of combat, Holland balances those with such critical topics as political relations, economics, and the role of technology. Holland has produced a worthy history that both general readers and WWII enthusiasts can enjoy. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941: The War in the West, Volume 1:

“The first of three volumes promising a revisionist approach to World War II. . . . Let the debates begin.”Library Journal

Praise for James Holland:

“Holland’s Dam Busters, thrilling, authoritative and containing astonishing photos, is a military history ‘must read.’ It is also a shining tribute to those intrepid young airmen.”Tampa Bay Times, on Dam Busters

“Holland is good at making complex matters clear.”Wall Street Journal, on Dam Busters

“Ambitious and comprehensive. . . . [An] excellent book.”Telegraph (UK), on The Battle of Britain

“Informative, enthralling, and moving—often all three at once. It effectively combines narrative and analysis. . . . Genuinely brilliant.”Booklist (starred review), on The Battle of Britain

“Holland deftly interweaves the personal histories of pilots, soldiers, submariners, sailors, nurses, office clerks and other civilians. All are brought compellingly to life in a brisk, tightly constructed narrative that has the impetus of first-hand experience.”Guardian (UK), on Fortress Malta

“Holland tells the story brilliantly. . . . Vivid, intelligently, movingly, Holland’s monumental chronicle tells it like it was.”Mail on Sunday (UK), on Together We Stand

“A gripping, yet compassionate account of the terrible war in Italy, with a memorable depiction of civilian suffering.”—Antony Beevor, on Italy’s Sorrow

Library Journal
09/15/2015
Holland's (Dam Busters; The Battle of Britain) goal in this first volume of a projected trilogy is to incorporate a generation of academic research about World War II and make it accessible for a general audience. The author adopts the revisionist argument that Germany's war effort was hindered by a variety of strategic weaknesses, especially in raw materials, while the Allies had greater access to natural resources and populations. Allied defeat cannot be understood merely as the result of a mechanized Wehrmacht blitzing across Europe until stopped at the gates of Moscow; defeat was the result of strategic and operational mistakes, and for France, the lack of political will. While Holland is almost certainly correct that the old interpretation of the war is still commonly accepted in popular culture, a quick survey of recent literature on the war reveals that a number of popular authors have also challenged the old paradigm. VERDICT Holland skillfully integrates the broad political, diplomatic, economic, and military narrative with stories of individuals, civilians, and soldiers from all the belligerents. While his approach may not be as unique as he claims, Holland's volume is a worthy addition to libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 4/20/15.]—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll.
Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-25
A lively study of the first part of World War II that moves along operational and tactical lines. Concentrating on the beginning salvos of war in the West, British historian and novelist Holland (Dam Busters: The True Story of the Inventors and Airmen Who Led the Devastating Raid to Smash the German Dams in 1943, 2012, etc.) sticks close to the nuts-and-bolts angle of the various flare-ups, beginning with complacent American isolationism in mid-1939 and the rise of extremism in Germany and Italy in reaction to struggling economies. The author returns throughout this engaging narrative to several key players for an intimate look: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Galeazzo Ciano, who caught the rise of Benito Mussolini, married his daughter, and stood at the heart of discussions with the new Axis partner, Germany, intent on regaining the Danzig Corridor; Capitaine André Baufre, the French staff officer chosen for work in diplomacy, who had grave doubts about the French army's preparedness; and Edward Spears, member of the British Parliament and Prime Minister Winston Churchill's personal representative, who would observe the horrific fall of France. (Holland provides a terrific "cast list" as well as comprehensive maps throughout.) The author follows the earnest work for diplomacy, the U-boat danger in the North Sea, the Battle of Britain and vacillation over Norway, the justification for the widening war in the Mediterranean, and—most importantly—just how all those ships, tanks, and artillery were fabricated and delivered. Germany faced huge obstacles, including a fuel shortage and the superior manpower numbers of France and Britain. Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, was the only way to remedy the chronic shortage of resources, but it was incredibly risky—and, as Holland notes, "nothing less than total victory would suffice." A sturdy, readable resource that regards the Blitzkrieg as no magical matter.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802123978
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
10/13/2015
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
160,215
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.00(d)

Meet the Author


James Holland is a member of the British Commission for Military History and the Guild of Battlefield Guides. His books include Dam Busters, Fortress Malta, Italy’s Sorrow, The Battle of Britain, and his fictional World War II series featuring Sergeant Jack Tanner. He lives near Salisbury, England.

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