The Second World War

The Second World War : A People's History

3.71 (32 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$26.50

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


World War II surpassed all previous wars in the sheer cost of many millions of lives, most of them civilian. It left a world reeling from physical destruction on a scale never experienced till then, and from the psychological traumas of loss, of imprisonment and genocide, and permanent exile from home. In this work, Joanna Bourke examines the events and outcomes in the vast number of places in which the War was fought: throughout Western and Central Europe, on the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union, in the Pacific, in Africa, in Asia. She shows where the strategic decisions came from and how they were implemented, but she also shows, through diary entries and recorded oral history, how ordinary people felt when they witnessed or heard of events, from the declaration of war on the radio to the mass murders carried out by Nazi soldiers in Russian more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 142.24 x 193.04 x 27.94mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 20 b&w cartoons, halftones, maps, timelines, diagrams, index
  • 0192802240
  • 9780192802248

About Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, London. She is the author of books on Irish history, the history of the British working classes, and twentieth century warfare. Her previous book, An Intimate History of Killing (1999), won the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History and the Wolfson History more

Review Text

There are no shortages of single-volume histories of World War II and the question must be asked, why publish another one? In this book, Joanne Bourke has attempted to answer the question by looking at the war from the perspective of all the many millions of people most directly effected by it, so that alongside members of the armed forces we hear the voices of refugees, concentration camp victims, children and others often forgotten in purely military accounts. Bourke casts her net wide - her attention to the war in the Far East provides much necessary balance against European preoccupations - and her chapters on the Holocaust and the war's aftermath are perceptively written. Where Bourke falls down is in her seeming ignorance of military matters, which from the author of an Intimate History of Killing is somewhat surprising. To take just two examples (from the proof copy): the description of the German campaigns in the West in 1940 is highly confusing to say the least, and it might be worth pointing out that Iwo Jima and Okinawa are two separate islands, over which two separate battles were fought in 1945. The writing style would suggest that this book is primarily aimed at a younger audience, and if the errors of fact can be corrected in a subsequent edition then this book might make a useful addition to the literature of this most destructive of wars. (Kirkus UK)show more

Table of contents

1.: Introduction. 2.: The Declaration of War in Europe. 3.: Occupied Europe. 4.: The Battle of the Atlantic. 5.: War in China. 6.: War in Asia and the Pacific. 7.: Italy, Greece, and North Africa. 8.: The Eastern Front. 9.: The Holocaust. 10.: D-Day and Liberation. 11.: Aerial Bombardment and Hiroshima. 12.: Aftermath. 13.: The Memory of War. Chronology, Further Reading, Indexshow more

Rating details

32 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 19% (6)
4 44% (14)
3 28% (9)
2 9% (3)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X