World War II: A Military and Social History : The Great Courses: Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Thomas Childers
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern History
  • 15 hrs and 6 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Between 1937 and 1945, approximately 55 million people perished in the series of interrelated conflicts known as the Second World War. No continent was left untouched, no ocean unaffected. The war led to the eclipse of Europe and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers; ushered in the atomic age; produced, in the Holocaust, the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of Western civilization, and led to the end of Europe's colonial empires around the world. But though World War II defined an entire epoch in human history, pressing questions remain - about whether Hitler could have been stopped earlier, about Pearl Harbor, about saving more people from the Holocaust, about using the atomic bomb, and even about how close the Allies came to actually losing.
This engaging series of 30 lectures is rich in detail and near-cinematic portraits of leaders and events. It explores not only the origins of the war, including the impact of the Treaty of Versailles, but also how it unfolded on both battlefront and the American home front, with focused looks at key subjects like Nazism and the Holocaust and the philosophy of strategic bombing and its impact on the future nature of warfare.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Misleading title, but a good course

The course is interesting and well performed. However, the title is misleading. It should read something along the lines of "The role of USA in the second world war". It focuses almost exclusivly on the US and primarely on the Pacific front of the war against Japan.

So if you are looking to understand how the US got involved and how the war was fought by american forces; this is a good course. However, if you want to get a broader understanding of the war besides the american perspective, you have to look elsewhere.

To sum up, it is a good course that focuses on a small part of the second world war. If this is the only course you are going to read about the war, you will miss the big picture. But if you have read a bit of other litterature that explains other parts of the war, this course will work well to understand the role of the US.
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- O. D. S

Gripping. Simply Gripping

I've listened to several of The Great Courses offerings, and by far my favorites are those on history. Done well, and most of them are, it's a lot like listening to someone read you an epic novel. In this case, it's the story of the single most important event in human history - WWII. Childers delivers the scenes and the names we know, but also fills out with lesser known facts and weaves them into a narrative that covers both theaters, European and Pacific. That he does so in a rather matter-of-fact voice only serves to underscore the drama.

There are quotes from the names you know, and snatches of personal letters from people you've never heard of. You get the background information, the cultural factors that lead into the start of the war. You get all the numbers and dates that so bored you back in high school, but in a context that makes them anything but boring. You learn of the Allied triumps and the heartbreaks. You learn that some of the most pivotal moments were combinations of mistakes on both sides, and plain luck, both good and bad. You'll hear about the Miracle of Midway, the heroic bloody battles fought in Russia, the incredible feat of the Army Rangers in climbing Pointe du Hoc under enemy fire, the Bataan death march, and more.

And in the end, you'll know why it was The Greatest Generation.
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- Christina

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses