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Book Review: World War II: The Definitive Visual History (DK Publishing 2009, 360 pages oversized paged)

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#1 dgmitchell

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 01:36 PM

The Second World War enveloped most of the developed world in the greatest military conflict in human history. One can argue that the War began as late as September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland or as early as November 11, 1918 as the ink dried on the Armistice that had just been signed. World War II: The Definitive Visual History (DK Publishing 2009, 360 pages oversized paged) proclaims itself as the “ultimate guide to the people, politics, events and technologies” of World War II. This coffee table book may very well be what it proclaims.

Visually stunning, with excellent graphics, maps and archival photos, World War II is arranged in nine sections, each devoted to a period of the World War II era, beginning with the pre-War period of 1914-38 and ending with the post-war period of 1946-1950. It is more of a chronologically arranged encyclopedia of the War than a true narrative. Readers can open to any page and learn about a different aspect of the War – the events, the people, the weapons, the key moments and the interconnectedness of all of them.

World War II does not present new information. Rather it offers a survey of the Second World War which attempts to include every important aspect of the War under one cover. Whether the book succeeds in this regard can only be judged by each individual reader but I believe that the book is entirely successful in addressing all of the major elements that would need to be addressed by anyone attempting to develop a fundamental understanding of the World War II.

Because World War II is a survey, however, knowledgeable readers should not expect to learn anything new in the reading of the book. Experienced readers, especially those reading this review, must realize that although the book is visually outstanding, it offers information that will not spark new inquiry or raise new awareness. Such experienced readers should also realize that the book was not intended to do those things, either.

World War II: The Definitive Visual History is an ideal display book for students of World War II to display in their home as a spark to conversation. It is also a wonderful gift suggestion for anyone who has expressed an interest in World War II but who does not yet know the basic aspects of the conflict. If anyone were ever to ask you why you are a student of the war or why you find it so interesting, producing a copy of World War II: The Definitive Visual History would probably be among your most compelling responses. Certainly, if you know anyone who wants to begin to develop a broad understanding of World War II, World War II: The Definitive Visual History would be a great place to start.

Edited by dgmitchell, 27 May 2009 - 12:25 AM.

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