Reviews of Books

The Eastern Front

Sunday 09 September 2007 The New York Times, Susan Robin Suleiman
Europe at War 1939-1945

A specialist in Eastern Europe, Davies advances two strong claims about the way the history of World War II should be written and remembered. First, he insists that historians as well as laymen should focus less on the Western front and more on the Eastern, where the heaviest fighting and the greatest destruction and suffering occurred. We know a lot about the blitz over England but little about the Nazi bombings of Poland in 1939. While it is an exaggeration to claim, as Davies does, that most histories of World War II underplay the war in the East, he is right to point out an imbalance in many people’s knowledge of it compared with their grasp of the fighting in the West. As he explains, this is partly due to the long period of the cold war, during which many archives were closed; since the 1990s, however, much new work has appeared on the war in the East. Davies presents no new findings but mines the existing secondary sources.

Read more