Reviews of Books

The madness of myths

Tuesday 09 November 2004 The Economist
Europe at War 1939-1945

Mr Davies's biggest demolition job is of the factual errors and ignorance that support the complacent national versions of wartime history. One notable example is the British myth that says that the island fortress stood “alone” against Hitler in 1940, which rudely neglects the efforts made by the Poles, Greeks and others. (...)

The Western alliance with Stalin and its consequences is the central theme of this book. But along the way the author pokes mercilessly at misapprehensions large and small. The war was not fought to stop the Holocaust. British and American readers may be surprised to learn (though they shouldn't be) that their countries' role in land warfare was so feeble. El Alamein, the much-praised British victory in north Africa, was a mere pub brawl compared with the battles of Midway and Stalingrad.

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