No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 1 Jan 2014
Having been educated in the United States, but now aiming to study the history of WW2 as a whole, I immediately understood Norman Davies' goal with No Simple Victory from the book's earlier pages. Americans tended to view the beginning of the end of the European War from the 1944 Anglo-American landings in Normandy, France, but in fact the Soviets had been slowly pushing the Germans back since the German push at Moscow was halted in the winter of 1941-1942. While there indeed were gruesomely grand battles in Western Europe, engagements such as Kursk, Bagration, and many others saw the engagement, and losses, of many more men and machines. Having set that background, Davies set forth on an analysis of the European War in its entirety, focusing more so on the fighting, logistics, politics, occupations, and atrocities on the Eastern Front, but not forgetting events of the Western Front. Although he had the agenda of bringing forth the contributions of the Soviet Union in the European War, something the average westerners tended to forget, he made certain to portray Joseph Stalin as the ruthless dictator as he was as well. The author's narratives might be biased at times, but the content also reflected the exhaustive research he had conducted in preparation for this book. It was clear to me that his bold approach was meant to provoke discussions and debates, but some of the facts he stated were difficult to argue against.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Simon Vance, whose work I had enjoyed before, continued to impress me with this title.
No Simple Victory was one historian's analysis of the many aspects that shaped the outcome of the European War, and it had its strong points and overt weaknesses; nevertheless, I would recommend this book to the history enthusiasts who already had some knowledge of the European War, if only to expose some of the lesser-explored topics in the English-speaking countries.
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945