The Origins of the Second World War

The Origins of the Second World War

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The book explores the reasons why the Second World War broke out in September 1939 and not sooner, and why a European war expanded into world war by 1941. The war has usually been seen simply as Hitler's war and yet the wider conflict that broke out when Germany invaded Poland was not the war that Hitler wanted. He had hoped for a short war against Poland; instead, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Richard Overy argues that any explanation of the outbreak of hostilities must therefore be multi-national and he shows how the war's origins are to be found in the basic instability of the international system that was brought about by the decline of the old empires of Britain and France and the rise of ambitious new powers, Italy, Germany and Japan, keen to build new empires of their own.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 171 x 248 x 19.05mm | 476g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • 3rd New edition
  • 1138835218
  • 9781138835214

Table of contents

(Current edition)


1. Explaining the Second World War


2. The International Crisis

The collapse of the League

France and Britain

America and the Soviet Union

From the Rhineland to Munich

3. Economic and Imperial Rivalry

The imperial powers

The `have-not' powers

The failure of `Economic Appeasement'

4. Armaments and Domestic Politics


Finance, industry and labour

Rearmament and domestic politics

5. War Over Poland

The aftermath of Munich

The Soviet factor

The outbreak of the war

6. From European to World War

The war in the west


The coming of world war


7. Hitler's War?

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About R. J. Overy

Richard Overy is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He has authored 17 books on the Third Reich, the Second World War and air warfare which include:The Air War 1939-1945 (2nd ed, 2006), Why the Allies Won (2nd ed, 2006) and The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia (2004) which won both the Wolfson and the Hessell Tiltman Prizes for History in 2005.
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Rating details

73 ratings
3.64 out of 5 stars
5 19% (14)
4 34% (25)
3 38% (28)
2 8% (6)
1 0% (0)
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