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The Cambridge History of the Second World War
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    The Cambridge History of the Second World War
    • Online ISBN: 9781139855969
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Book description

The military events of the Second World War have been the subject of historical debate from 1945 to the present. It mattered greatly who won, and fighting was the essential determinant of victory or defeat. In Volume 1 of The Cambridge History of the Second World War a team of twenty-five leading historians offer a comprehensive and authoritative new account of the war's military and strategic history. Part I examines the military cultures and strategic objectives of the eight major powers involved. Part II surveys the course of the war in its key theatres across the world, and assesses why one side or the other prevailed there. Part III considers, in a comparative way, key aspects of military activity, including planning, intelligence, and organisation of troops and matérial, as well as guerrilla fighting and treatment of prisoners of war.

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Page 1 of 3

  • 11 - The war in the West, 1939–1940
    pp 315-330
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    In the eighteenth century, the British developed a grand strategy that was designed to minimize their weaknesses and play to their strengths. France signed an armistice, with the result that the foundation of British military strategy, the assumption that the French army would at least be strong enough to hold the Germans in the west, had collapsed. In the second half of the year British gained allies whose combined military strength, when it was fully mobilized, meant that the defeat of the Axis Powers would only be a matter of time. Tensions between British and American military strategists about the future course of the war first emerged in April 1942. In November 1943, the War Office had earmarked a dozen divisions for OVERLORD. The British effort in the war against Japan focused on the Burma front and the defence of India. British military strategy reflected the strategic culture that its policy-makers had developed since the eighteenth century.
  • 12 - Operations on the Eastern Front, 1941–1945
    pp 331-357
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    In 1895, Japan's rise in industrial and military power first found its imperial destiny in its war on decadent China, with its seizure of Taiwan and effective hegemony over Korea. In October 1938, after the fall of Wuhan, Chiang Kai-shek told senior commanders that his initial strategy of aggressive defence had been successfully concluded. In February and then in April 1941, Chiang informed the Americans about operation BARBAROSSA. The Combined Chiefs of Staff of the American and British armed forces would determine worldwide war strategy, except in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but also, in effect, in China. On 7 December 1941, at Pearl Harbor, Japan struck the famous first blow. For Chiang Kai-shek, the threat to China's interests posed by the strategy of Europe first confirmed the value of a Soviet Red Army attack on Japanese forces in China. The civilian economy of Nationalist China was under near-blockade even before the Japanese took Rangoon.
  • 13 - The Mediterranean and North Africa, 1940–1944
    pp 358-388
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    This chapter explores the components of French strategic analysis and decision-making down to the defeat of June 1940. It proposes that the leaders of France had no choice from the mid-1920s onward but to adopt the grand strategy, though not all the operational campaign plans, that they utilized in 1939-40. The French security policy during the 1920s was about thinking of the relationships between diplomatic commitments and military structures, driven by defensive and even idealistic motivations. In the 1930s, Louis Barthou announced that France would take the steps it judged necessary to ensure its security by national means. France needed to hone its military muscles, as well as strap on diplomatic protection. The best-known expression of the military revival at the heart of French grand strategy was the eastern frontier fortifications. However, France was slower than Britain or Germany in developing radar, and its air defence system remained weak right into 1940.
  • 14 - The war in the West, 1943–1945
    pp 389-419
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    All German strategies before and during the Second World War were conditioned by the position of Germany, like its predecessor Prussia, in the middle of Europe. Over several months, Adolf Hitler sent the German navy and air force, both carrying troops, to occupy Denmark and Norway in April 1940. The new plan reduced emphasis on the Atlantic ports, probably in view of the occupation of Norway, and instead placed the emphasis on the left or southern thrust through the Ardennes to the channel, on the correct assumption that the British and French would send troops to assist the invaded countries. The defeat of the Soviet Union would encourage Japan to move in East Asia and keep the United States preoccupied there until Germany was ready to fight and defeat that country. Hitler personally promised Japanese foreign minister Matsuoka Yosuke, that Germany would declare war on the United States when Japan did, and the Japanese received similar assurances from Benito Mussolini.

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