In This Review

The Oxford Companion to World War II
The Oxford Companion to World War II
Edited by I. C. B. Dear and M. R. D. Foot
Oxford University Press, 1995, 1343 pp.

Why another hefty one-volume compendium on World War II? This massive tome has some of the usual justifications, including an exceptionally distinguished list of contributors, among them British scholars Norman Davies, John Gooch, and Richard Overy as well as German, Japanese, American, and Canadian experts. The editors have drawn, directly and indirectly, on the latest scholarship, although they might have done more to point readers to further works. This book stands out for a string of very fine thematic articles, which the editors have stressed at the expense of capsule campaign narratives. The result is a series of general essays (for example, the discussion of Italy by two eminent Italian historians) that are long enough to do justice to their subjects. The contributors try, where possible, to be cross-national: the essay on radar in the war, for example, is particularly useful in showing how the combatants differed in their use of this new tool of warfare. One of the most appealing features of this work is its superb graphics, including not only maps but also excellent and creative time lines, tables, and diagrams. In sum, an invaluable aid to the serious student of World War II.