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  Wednesday  November 7  2007    11: 16 PM

book recommendation

No Simple Victory:
World War II in Europe, 1939-1945

by Norman Davies

To make sense of the world today it really helps to have an understanding of history based in reality. That doesn't hapen in this country. For example, WWII didn't begin in 1941 as most people in the US think. It was 1939. And it wasn't the landing at Normandy that put the nail in the German coffin. The Allies made their first European landing in Sicily in 1943. And that wasn't even the mainland. As the Allies landed in Sicily the USSR had just broken the German's back at Kursk. Kursk was the last German offensive. WWII was a clash of Titans except the Titans were Germany and the USSR. From Amazon:

The typical Western view of WWII's European Theater—as a struggle between freedom and fascism that climaxed with the Normandy landings—is harshly critiqued in this scathing reappraisal. Historian Davies (Rising '44: The Battle of Warsaw) argues that British and American campaigns were a sideshow to the titanic conflict between the Wehr-macht and the Red Army on the Eastern Front, where most of the fighting and decisive battles occurred. The war was therefore not a simple victory of good over evil, he contends, but the defeat of one totalitarian state, Nazi Germany, by another, the Soviet Union, whose crimes were just as vast, if less diabolical. Davies's topical approach judiciously surveys the military, economic and political aspects of the war, often from an Eastern European perspective. He observes, for example, that the region that suffered the most civilian deaths was Ukraine, and that the Soviet Union was initially as much an aggressor—against Poland, Finland and the Baltic states—as Germany. (Poland's travails, Davies's professional specialty, are somewhat overemphasized.) Davies cuts against the grain of popular war histories like Stephen Ambrose's accounts of D-Day and the Bulge, but his interpretations rest on solid scholarly work.

Clash Of Evils
Review of: No Simple Victory

"No Simple Victory" (Viking, 490 pages, $30), Mr. Davies's new book, is the latest installment in his project of illusion-demolition. This is a revisionist history of World War II, designed to shake the complacency of British and American readers who are accustomed to thinking of it as "the good war." It is not that Mr. Davies has uncovered any important new facts, or even launched any shocking reinterpretations. His purpose, rather, is to remind the world of two truths that, while well-established, he believes are not sufficiently reckoned with.

The first is that, in military terms, World War II in Europe was predominantly a war between Germany and the Soviet Union; the contributions of Britain and America, while crucial, were not of the same order. The second is that, when Nazism and Communism fought over control of Eastern Europe, there was little moral difference between them. The Soviet Union was one of the Allies, but it had less in common with Anglo-American democracy than it did with Nazi tyranny.