Summary and book reviews of Warlords by Simon Berthon

Warlords

An Extraordinary Re-Creation of World War II Through the Eyes and Minds of Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, And Stalin

By Simon Berthon, Joanna Potts

Warlords
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2006,
    358 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2007,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

A fascinating "you-are-there" look at World War II through the lives of Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin.

In a unique combination of innovative style and thorough scholarship, Warlords tells the story of World War II through the lives of the four great war leaders: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt. While their nations fought battles with weapons, the four warlords of the twentieth century fought a war of the mind. Structured along the lines of a cinematic thriller, rapidly cutting from one man to the next, the book takes us blow by blow as they try to outthink and outfight each other. These encounters are told on a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour basis, affording unparalleled insights into parallel actions.

Though there have been many single, and some dual, biographies, no previous book has put these four great figures together in this exciting and popularly appealing way. Moving from Whitehall and Washington to the Wolf's Lair and the Kremlin, Warlords documents the psychological battles among the leaders and shows how their thoughts and actions changed history.

Prologue
May 10, 1940

Just after midnight, Friday, May 10, 1940. Two imposing steam engines at the head of ten luxuriously appointed coaches in bottle-green livery slid towards a junction 140 miles west of Berlin. The train had been traveling north from Hanover towards Hamburg, but now a set of points switched it to the west. It smoothly and slowly changed direction. On board this special train, code-named Amerika, was Adolf Hitler. The Führer was on a one-way ticket to Armageddon.

With Hitler was his personal secretary, Christa Schroeder, a breezy and attractive young woman of 32 who was full of admiration for the charm and vitality of the "boss." She wrote an excited letter to a friend describing her great adventure. The day before, the "inner" circle in Hitler’s office in the Reich Chancellery, of which she was thrilled to be part, had only been told that they were going "on a trip." Its destination and length were a secret....

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Reviews

BookBrowse

The relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill is particularly fascinating. Today, they are usually portrayed as bosom-buddy allies, but the journal entries and eye-witness reports of the time portray a quite different relationship. In fact, it appears that Roosevelt considered Britain's imperial ambitions to be a greater threat than Stalin's, and considered Stalin the sort of person that he could do business with.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Reasonably good as a big-picture overview, except that the picture is so much bigger.

Booklist - Gilbert Taylor

This focus on personality brings out, for example, Stalin’s colossal miscalculation about Hitler, and effects an appreciation in a general audience for directions the war took that were influenced by the psychology of the top leaders—always a reliable hook for popular history.

Publishers Weekly

The scholarship is solid—so solid that readers convinced WWII was less squalid than other wars may be provoked to reconsider.

Library Journal

...a lively narrative that shifts quickly from scene to scene, taking the reader along for the ride.

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Beyond the Book

Joanna Potts received a First Class degree in Historical Studies from the University of Bristol. While at university Joanna specialized in the study of Soviet Russia, concentrating particularly on the years 1917-1953. She also undertook in-depth research into Europe and the Second World War, completing a comprehensive study of Anthony Eden and Winston Churchill during the war years.

Simon Berthon, described by the Daily Telegraph as a “formidable Second World War historian”, is one of Britain’s most distinguished writers and producers of television history. His previous book was Allies at War, on the bitter-sweet relationship between Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle.

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