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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.
©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By O. D. S on 07-15-15

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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25 of 26 people found this review helpful


By Theresa on 01-01-15

Excellent review of WWII

What made the experience of listening to World War II: A Military and Social History the most enjoyable?

I did not know much about the details of WWII before listening to these lectures. I now feel that I have a great understanding of all of the theaters of the war and how they were related.

What was one of the most memorable moments of World War II: A Military and Social History?

He had a good balance of the big picture and then would present personal details of how the war affected different individuals.

What about Professor Thomas Childers’s performance did you like?

He was an excellent lecturer. The content, the pace and his voice made it very enjoyable.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Usually I cannot just sit down and listen to a book on tape but with this one I was drawn in, it was like a novel unfolding and I wanted to see how everything fit together. I spent many hours at a time listening.

Any additional comments?

I have enjoyed many of the Great Courses, but this was by far my favorite.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By barry on 07-30-16

Well explained and well presented

Coming from ' blueprint for Armageddon' and the 1st WW I found this more factual and less personal views and accounts. It's still excellent and gives a great overview of the different stages of the conflict .

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By C on 04-28-16

Fascinating story & engaging to listen to.

It's told as if in a lecture, so really easy to follow. Contains personal stories, small, possibly insignificant anecdotes, but they make the story that much more tangible. Excellent read and made my drives to work something I did not want to end.

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