In this sweepingly ambitious overview of World War II, Michael Burleigh combines meticulous scholarship with a remarkable depth of knowledge and an astonishing scope. By exploring the moral sentiments of entire societies and their leaders and how such attitudes changed under the impact of total war, Burleigh presents listeners with a fresh and powerful perspective on a conflict that continues to shape world politics. Whereas previous histories of the war have tended to focus on grand strategy or major battles, Burleigh brings his painstaking scholarship and profound sensibility to bear on the factors that shaped choices that were life-and-death decisions. These choices were made in real time, without the benefit of a philosopher’s reflection, giving a moral content to the war that shaped it as decisively as any battle.
Although the Nazis and the Japanese had radically different moral universes from those of their Allied opponents, the Western Allies found themselves aligned with a no less cruel dictatorship after rejecting the option of appeasing aggression. The war was the sum of myriad choices made by governments, communities, and individuals, leading some to enthusiastically embrace evil and others to consciously reject it, with a range of more ambiguously human responses in between. Spanning both major theaters, Moral Combat sheds a revealing light on how entire nations changed under the shock of total war.
Emphasizing the role of the past in making sense of the present, Burleigh’s book offers essential insights into the choices we face today—in some circles it is always 1938 and every aggressor is a new Hitler. If we do go to war, we need to know what it will mean for the individuals who command and fight it. Original, perceptive, and astonishing in scholarship and scope, this is an unforgettable and hugely important work of Second World War history.
“Respected British historian Burleigh delivers a long, riveting account of awful events and the perverted reasoning behind them.” (Publishers Weekly)
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this is a lesson that has to be learned. we must never be ignorant of the consequence of being vulnerable or the relative cheap consequence of being prepared to vanquish our enemies.if the bquestion is
the details make the unfathomable more fathomable,yet it still strains the immagination how humans could kill innocent men women and children and go to lunch. It also highlights the utter failure of european christianity not as failing to
this is a book that simply should be read by every citizen of every state who wants to protect themselves and other people from miscreants and potential miscreants ,who were in the Bloodllands and still exist in every city ,town and village.
A study of society under the pressure of War
While billed as an overview of WWII it focuses mainly on Europe, particularly the Nazis. There is a discussion of Japan at the end. He examines the moral attitudes of the countries involved, not just the political and military leadership, but entire societies, and how these attitudes bent and broke (on both sides) under the weight of total war.Fascinating.
- B Kevin