Inferno: Book summary and reviews of Inferno by Max Hastings

Inferno

The World at War, 1939-1945

by Max Hastings

Inferno

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About this book

Book Summary

From one of our finest military historians, a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences.

World War II involved tens of millions of soldiers and cost sixty million lives - an average of twenty-seven thousand a day. For thirty-five years, Max Hastings has researched and written about different aspects of the war. Now, for the first time, he gives us a magnificent, single-volume history of the entire war.

Through his strikingly detailed stories of everyday people - of soldiers, sailors and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the two-year siege; Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews - Hastings provides a singularly intimate portrait of the world at war. He simultaneously traces the major developments - Hitler's refusal to retreat from the Soviet Union until it was too late; Stalin's ruthlessness in using his greater population to wear down the German army; Churchill's leadership in the dark days of 1940 and 1941; Roosevelt's steady hand before and after the United States entered the war - and puts them in real human context.

Hastings also illuminates some of the darker and less explored regions under the war's penumbra, including the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland, during which the Finns fiercely and surprisingly resisted Stalin's invading Red Army; and the Bengal famine in 1943 and 1944, when at least one million people died in what turned out to be, in Nehru's words, "the final epitaph of British rule" in India.

Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the twentieth century.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Hastings continues a recent substantial body of general audience writing on WWII... in this equally well-researched and well-presented account focusing on the conflict's human dimension..." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Excellent general WWII accounts abound - including those by historical superstars such as Stephen Ambrose and John Keegan - but Hastings is matchless." - Kirkus Reviews

"This well-written history is recommended for all readers and libraries." - Library Journal

"This book is packed with fascinating and surprising statistics and facts... Hastings has an extraordinary ability to throw a bucket into the ocean of wartime papers, diaries, letters and documents of every kind, and bring up something fascinating and worthwhile every time." - Andrew Roberts, Financial Times (UK)

"[A] huge, majestic book.... The Second World War took place in the skies, the oceans and the lands of five different continents. It encompassed fighting in Arctic blizzards, as well as in jungles and deserts. Any military history must encompass all of this and more. And at the same time it must reconcile the grand strategy of generals and politicians with the more violent experiences of ordinary soldiers... Hastings shapes all these stories, almost miraculously, into a coherent narrative. Overlaid upon this tapestry is an analysis of how the war brought out the best and the worst in people, how it could be won only through the use of astonishing brutality and how it changed society forever." - Keith Lowe, The Telegraph (UK)

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Author Information

Max Hastings Author Biography

Sir Max Hastings is an author, journalist, and broadcaster whose work has appeared in every British national newspaper. He now writes regularly for the Daily Mail and Financial Times and reviews books for the Sunday Times and New York Review of Books. He has published twenty-three books, among the most recent of which are All Hell Let Loose (2011); Did You Really Shoot the Television?: A Family Fable (2010); Finest Years: Churchill As Warlord 1940-45 (2009); Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45 (2004); and Nemesis: The Battle For Japan 1944-45 (2007). He has also published three collections of writing about the British countryside and field sports. The son and grandson of writers, he was educated at Charterhouse (scholar) and University College, Oxford (exhibitioner), from which ...

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