The World War II Desk Reference

The World War II Desk Reference

by Douglas Brinkley


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More than 12 million American men and women entered the U.S. armed forces during World War II, and millions more worked and sacrificed at home to help the Allied cause to defeat the Axis powers. At the close of the war, America had become the leading nation on the global stage, and its veterans returned home to forge a vibrant postwar society. Written under the direction of two distinguished historians, The World War II Desk Reference explains in clear prose, backed by rosters of statistics, time lines, and maps, the global cataclysm that was World War II.

But this volume is not a typical almanac. With material ranging from battlefronts to important military commanders to armaments, among the backdrop of all the necessary political, social, and economic factors, Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew's reference will prove invaluable to readers. Photographs, lists, time lines, tables, glossaries, and maps encapsulate many pieces of complicated information, making The World War II Desk Reference immensely browsable. The book also includes a helpful resource on national World War II monuments, organizations, and museums.

Throughout the book, you'll find oral histories culled from several sources, including the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans, which holds the world's largest repository of valuable letters, journals, and other war-related records. Excerpted from those who fought on both sides, these accounts add a deeply touching, profoundly personal dimension seldom found in other books on World War II.

In a modern world plagued by terrorism, dictators, and weapons of mass destruction, Brinkley and Haskew's seminal work reminds us that America's role in World War II led to a truly monumental victory. For World War II enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone interested in our nation's history, this is the one book to own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060526511
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/11/2004
Pages: 592
Product dimensions: 7.37(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.53(d)

About the Author

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His recent Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.

Read an Excerpt

The World War II Desk Reference

By Brinkley, Douglas


ISBN: 0060526513

Chapter One

Time Line of World War II

This time line provides an overall perspective on World War II, including the years immediately preceding and following the conflict. It was a global war, fought in Europe, on the Atlantic, across the islands of the central and western Pacific, and in the countries of eastern and central Asia. Time lines covering specific subject areas can be found in each particular chapter; this main time line is useful as a linear, year-by-year measure of the war on all fronts, providing a brief overview of the scope of the conflict as well as the staggering human costs of a worldwide conflagration that took some 50 million lives.

november 11: World War I (1914–18) ends with the surrender of Germany and Austria-Hungary to the Allied powers (the United States, France, and Great Britain).

June 28: The Treaty of Versailles formalizes the surrender of Germany and creates the League of Nations, a multination international organization created to preserve the peace. The treaty also imposes harsh reparation terms on Germany.

March 19: The U.S. Senate fails to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. U.S. failure to join the League of Nations weakens that organization.

Germany is devastated by inflation, which leads to increasing political instability and to the weakening of its democratic government; the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler begins to grow.

October 29: The stock market crash in the United States sets off a worldwide economic depression, which weakens democratic governments all over the world and strengthens the appeal of dictators and militarists in Europe and Asia.

September 19: Japan invades Manchuria, China; its forces occupy Changchun, Kirin, and Mukden; the first Japanese aggression on Asian mainland occurs.

September 21: The Chinese government appeals to the League of Nations for assistance against the Japanese invasion.

December 12: French troops leave the Saarland, an area inhabited by a large number of ethnic Germans and occupied by France in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles.

January 9: Its economy in shambles, Germany defaults on World War I reparation payments to Allied nations that were mandated in the Treaty of Versailles.

February 28: The Japanese proclaim the puppet state of Manchukuo in the occupied Chinese territory of Manchuria.

March 13: Nazi leader Adolf Hitler runs a close second to World War I hero and incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg in the German presidential election.

May 15: The assassination of Japanese Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai leaves the nation's government dominated by the military.

July 31: Nazis win 230 seats in the German Reichstag (legislature) and become the largest party in that body.

November 8: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president of the United States.

December 2: General Kurt von Schleicher becomes chancellor of Germany but is unable to form an effective government in the face of mounting Nazi opposition.

January 30: Adolf Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany through appointment by President Paul von Hindenburg. He gains office with the assistance of politicians who believe they can keep him in check.

February 27: The Reichstag building burns in Berlin; in order to secure unlimited powers for Hitler, the Nazis falsely accuse the Communists of setting the blaze.

March 23: The Reichstag gives Hitler dictatorial powers.

March 27: Japan withdraws from the League of Nations after the League criticizes its policies in China.

July 14: Germany outlaws all political parties except the Nazi Party.

September 2: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign a friendship accord. They agree to support each other politically and not to go to war with each other.

October 14: Germany formally withdraws from the League of Nations.

June 30: Hitler orders the purge and murder of top leaders in the SA (Sturmabteilung), his paramilitary storm troopers, as a way of appeasing the regular German army, which is threatened by the SA.

July 25: Nazi sympathizers in Austria assassinate Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss during an attempted coup. Mussolini protests German meddling in Austrian affairs, and the Nazis back down from further violence.

August 2: German President Hindenburg dies; Hitler assumes office of president and total dictatorial power.

December 29: Japan repudiates the Washington and London treaties of 1921 limiting the naval tonnage of the signatories in order to expand its navy.

January 13: A plebiscite in the Saarland favors union with Germany over France.

April 1: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the first U.S. Neutrality Act.

August 15: The Nazis ban marriages between Germans and Jews.

September 15: The Nuremberg Laws strip Jews of most of their rights as German citizens.

October 3: Italy invades the East African nation of Ethiopia.

October 19: The League of Nations approves partial sanctions against Italy in response to the invasion of Ethiopia.

March 7: German troops occupy the Rhineland region of Germany, which had been demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles.

May 5: The Italians capture the city of Addis Ababa; organized resistance in Ethiopia ends.

July 17: The Spanish Civil War begins.

August 1: The German government hosts the games of the 11th Olympiad in Berlin.

October 25: Hitler and Mussolini form the Rome-Berlin Axis declaring common foreign policies in Europe.

November 25: Germany and Japan agree to Anti-Comintern Pact (see Chapter 2, "Causes of War"), pledging mutual support against the Soviet Union.

December 10: King Edward VIII of England abdicates and is succeeded by his younger brother, who is crowned King George VI.

April 27: The Condor Legion, consisting of German airmen supporting the Spanish Nationalists of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, bombs the Spanish city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

May 28: Neville Chamberlain becomes prime minister of Great Britain.

June 11: Soviet dictator Josef Stalin begins a purge of Red Army generals and other members of the officer corps.


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Table of Contents

Map Indexvii
Photo Creditsix
1Time Line of World War II1
2Causes of War18
3The Economics of World War II43
4Allies, Enemies, and Bystanders71
5Politicians and Demagogues113
6Officers and Soldiers156
7Campaigns and Battles: Europe and the Atlantic197
8Campaigns and Battles: Asia and the Pacific257
9Arms and Equipment303
10Intelligence, Espionage, and Propaganda344
11The Home Front373
12Man's Inhumanity400
14World War II and the Arts457
15Documents, Organizations, and Monuments489
Glossary of World War II Terms523
Comprehensive Bibliography537

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