In This Review

Why the Allies Won
Why the Allies Won
By Richard Overy
W. W. Norton, 1996, 396 pp.

A sharply different view from Pape’s. Overy, a professor of modern European history at the University of London, argues that ‘there has always seemed something fundamentally implausible about the contention of bombing’s critics that dropping almost 2.5 million tons of bombs on tautly stretched industrial systems and war-weary urban populations would not seriously weaken them.’ The author of important books on World War II, including a biography of Hermann Goering and the best overall account of the air war, Overy has produced a broad and insightful synthesis. He contends that the outcome of the war rested less on the balance of personnel and materiel than the Allies’ greater cohesion and attention to support, chiefly logistics and intelligence. In the final analysis, however, the conduct of individual campaigns mattered greatly. Deftly and convincingly, Overy reminds students of World War II that although all history is contingent, war is perhaps the most uncertain of all human activities.