Moral Combat: A History of World War II

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9780007195763: Moral Combat: A History of World War II

From pre-eminent historian Michael Burleigh comes a brilliant new examination of the Second World War and a magisterial counterpart to his award-winning and bestselling THE THIRD REICH.

Literature on the Second World War is voluminous. In Moral Combat, however, Michael Burleigh achieves what few historians can claim to have done; by exploring the moral sentiment of entire societies and their leaders, and how this changed under the impact of total war, he presents readers with an entirely fresh perspective of this conflict.

Opening with the 'predators' - Mussolini, Hitler, Prince Hirohito of Japan - and moving onto appeasement (a popular policy or a 'wrong' policy?), the rape of Poland, Barbarossa, the role of Churchill, and the Holocaust, Burleigh analyses the moral dimension of the Second World War's most important moments. More than merely a history of 'great men', however, Burleigh also examines the moral reasoning of individuals who had to make choices under circumstances difficult to imagine. Stressing the maxim that the past is used to make sense of the present world we live in, he takes us right up to today's war on terror - a war of competing ideas. What, in the end, will constitute its victory? Burleigh's fascinating and deeply engaging exploration refuses to draw lessons from the past for the future, remaining instead firmly focused on the on-the-spot decisions that came to define the conflict.

Original, perceptive and remarkable in scope, this is an unforgettable and hugely important Second World War history.

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Review:

‘Michael Burleigh has long been one of our foremost writers on the importance of ethics in history, and in this deeply researched, closely argued and well-written analysis of the moral issues thrown up by the Second World War he has reached the zenith of his career.… Burleigh takes strong stances on almost every controversy of the war…This book is full of poignant nuggets of information…but easily its greatest strength lies in the wise, civilised but unshakeable moral certainty of its author.’ Andrew Roberts, Sunday Telegraph

‘Burleigh’s book is infinitely better than the usual tiresome trudge through the battlefields of North Africa or rose–tinted retrospective of the Battle of Britain. More than any book I have read on the war, it confronts us with the ethical questions millions of people faced in their daily lives… Perhaps the most impressive thing about Burleigh’s book is that, unlike so many historians, he has a refreshingly realistic, clear-eyed view of human nature.…One of the strengths of Burleigh’s analysis, however, is that while he is well aware of allied atrocities, he never loses sight of the basic moral difference between the warring parties.… Although Burleigh leaves us in no doubt that the Second World War was a just conflict, he simultaneously leaves us under no illusions about the horrors of modern warfare. This is a book in which heroism is inevitably flawed and tempered; in which the choice is always between two evils.…if we are to avoid repeating such horrors in our own lifetimes, then, as Burleigh’s outstanding book reminds us, some things should never be forgotten.’ Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

‘powerful and timely…This is one of the most important books on the Second World War to be published in recent years’ Evening Standard

About the Author:

Michael Burleigh is Distinguished Research Professor in Modern History at Cardiff University. He is the author of nine well-received books, including ‘Earthly Powers’, ‘Sacred Causes’ and ‘The Third Reich’, for which he was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001.

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Book Description Harper Press, Hammersmith London, United Kingdom, 2010. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. 650 pages, b&w and colour images. A very detailed volume that sheds light on how nations changed under the impact of total war. Includes topics like the 'Rape of Poland, Operation Barbarossa, strategic bombing and the complexities of justice and retribution'. A fascinating insight. Bookseller Inventory # 337711

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