In This Review

The Battle for History: Refighting World War II
The Battle for History: Refighting World War II
By John Keegan
Vintage, 1996, 128 pp.

This short, opinionated, and stimulating monograph is in essence an extended book review, divided into chapters on overall histories of the war, biographies, campaigns, intelligence and logistics, and resistance, and introduced by a discussion of some of the war's main controversies. In a work of such brevity one cannot expect extensive analysis, and the reader must take at face value some occasionally jarring assertions--for example that the strategic bombing campaign against Germany did not work, even though it destroyed the Luftwaffe and diverted vast quantities of German war production. Keegan discusses only English-language books, conceding that he has not yet begun reading the official German history of the war, now out in half a dozen volumes. He also favors the European war considerably over the Pacific, which receives scant attention. Still, with admirable concision he sums up key issues and describes the merits of a wide range of standard (and a few more obscure) works on the war. Students of World War II will wish to mull over his opinions, even if they disagree.