Simple History of World War II Book Review
A Blitzkrieg Overview
Firstly, a brief look at the contents of the book. As expected, when opening the book, you are presented with a very concise overview of the book’s content. Excluding the incredibly brief introduction section (which is more illustration than wo/3rds), the main body of the book’s content can be categorised into four distinct sections: the Road to War, World War 2, Factions & Technology, and The War Experience. These four sections are also followed by a multiple-choice quiz to test the knowledge you should have absorbed during the book’s very brief 48 pages of main content.
The Road to War section contains an overview of the lead-up to the war, touching on how Germany was treated after World War I, then jumping forward to Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power and the general situation of Germany in 1938. The stage is then set for the book’s longest section, which covers the war’s major events and turning points in chronological order.
World War 2 is the title of the books next section, and it is the book’s most content-heavy section in terms of page length and the information that it contains. Starting very appropriately with Germany’s famous Blitzkrieg style of warfare, author Daniel Turner then whisks us through major events such as Britain’s entry into the war, the initial success of Germany, the war in the east, and all the way through to D-Day, the Pacific conflict, and the end of the war.As Primary or Secondary-school learners, this is where you are likely to find any of the content you are looking for, (that is if you can find it at all – as explained later in this review, this book has the potential to be too brief for some more advanced secondary-school levels).
Once you’re finished with the book’s main content, there are two remaining sections, both condensing down the impact of the war and its events. Factions & Technology is a favourite of mine, as much like many sections of this book, this section is effectively full of cheat-sheets for explaining the main factions of the war (the Axis and Allies), the common uniforms and equipment carried by the typical paratrooper on the D-Day landings, technology and weapons used and developed in the war and propaganda. Finally, The War Experience details some of the conditions experienced in day to day life by the troops on the ground, in the air, the British home front (often referred to as “the war at home”) and finishing off with a look at the Holocaust and a page of vital statistics to put the outcomes of the war into perspective.
Content: What to Expect
What you should expect from this book is to gain a very good introduction into the timeline of World War II. The opening section sets the scene by providing some relevant facts about the outcome of WWI and the position of Germany after this war ended; this is important because the international stage after World War I and the punishment of Germany was a factor in allowing Adolf Hitler’s eventual rise to power to become so successful.
The main section of this book looks (again, very briefly) at the timeline and main aspects of World War II. This starts with a look at Blitzkrieg, a rapid and devasting style of war fought by Germany that had not yet been seen in history up until this point. The book covers in very few pages what many authors have written entire books about.
The initial success of Germany, the devastating bombing campaign of the Blitz, the Eastern Front, and Pearl Harbour are all covered in quick succession. Before you know it, the book has arrived at Hitler’s idea of the Final Solution – another a subject that requires significantly more content than is contained within this book. I strongly recommend visiting this Final Solution resource to learn more about this, given the unimaginable thought processes involved in implementing this philosophy, as well as the loss of life that occurred as a result of its implementation
This book also takes a respectable look at one of World War II’s most famous battles: The Battle of Stalingrad, dedicating two pages to presenting some major facts about this battle and its impact. Then the author takes a brief nod at North Africa, Italian surrender, a 2-page look at D-Day, the advance on Japan, the fall of the Reich, and the dropping of the atomic bomb.
Though the final two sections are again fairly light on any detailed history, they are arguably some of the more useful for Primary and to a lesser extent, Secondary-school students, since they contain some of the vital facts about the leaders of the major Axis and Allied powers, as well as looking at the equipment of the troops, their uniforms, technology used and developed during the war, a brief look at the idea of propaganda, and also day-to-day life on the ground, in the air, and Britain’s home front.
Writing Style and Presentation
Before choosing to purchase this book, you should know that the content contained within it is too brief to explore any writing style from the author. The book’s purpose of being brief has forced its author to condense the absolute essence of the events/aftermath of World War II into concise sentences, so don’t expect any light-hearted jokes or any signature writing style here.
People are also sometimes shocked to find just how much illustration is contained within the book. All the pages feature illustrations from Author Daniel Turner, with the impact of this booking being at least in part visual. Its colourful illustrations provide some visual cues to the written content, which is a positive given that it would be impractical and unwise to simply place a 600-word text in front of a Primary or Secondary student and expect them to absorb the information within them. To get an idea of the visual style, as well as the content of this book, please visit the accompanying Youtube Overview of World War II.
What to Take Away from the Book
Most history books written about World War II – even the shorter ones – exceed this book’s very brief length of 51 pages. Remember that this book is intended to be a Simple Guide to World War II. You should not expect a huge amount of detail on each of the subjects covered within. Each section of this book - from the Blitz to the British Home Front, right the way through to the North-African campaign – have entire bodies of literature dedicated to just those subjects. This book provides, at most, 2-page spreads detailing the key facts about each aspect.
The book is so brief, in fact, that there isn’t any kind of writing style that would single out this author from any other on the subject. Most pages in this book are at least 50% illustration, with facts, figures, and brief explanations contained within boxes and bubbles around the page. Many parents have expressed their dislike of just how brief this book is in many review sections on the internet. This is perhaps because they are expecting a full and detailed history, which this book is not.
However, as brief as the coverage of the individual, important events of World War II seem to be, this book is still useful as a preliminary resource. I would have to suggest that this book would be best suited to Primary-school students first and foremost. It provides an excellent and relatively non-biased look at the absolute essentials of the war. Secondary-school students could perhaps use this book as a shallow framework around which they should be encouraged to do further reading. This is not only because most subjects within this book (particularly the Holocaust, D-Day Landings, and the Eastern Front) are too complex to learn about from this book’s brief content, but also because the knowledge requirements of Secondary-school (and arguably Primary school) curriculums would require more knowledge than the Simple History of WWII alone could provide.