The Second World War Illustrated (Paperback)
The Second Year - Archive and Colour Photographs of WW2
This second volume begins with the account of Mussolini attempting to mirror Hitler in acts of aggression by thrusting towards Egypt and capturing the important artery of the British Empire; the Suex Canal. The Italian initiative failed and when its army was driven back with heavy losses, Mussolini asked for help and Hitler sent Rommel.
Beginning in the spring of 1941, Axis forces, under a dynamic General Rommel, pushed the British back to Egypt. In the meantime, Mussolini decided on another easy target to spread his new 'Roman Empire' and invaded Greece. Once again, his superior numbers were repelled and the Greeks sent his army back to its starting point in Albania.
Hitler came to the aid of his Axis ally and Churchill sent the British to help Greece, but in doing so, depleted his forces in North Africa. During the Battle of Greece, Greek and British forces in the north of the country were overwhelmed by a rapid German advance. The British embarked for Crete and the Germans promptly captured the island with their much-vaunted Fallschirmjager.
Matters were disheartening for the British people following these defeats in North Africa and Greece. However, a morale boost came with the sinking of the Bismarck and the defection of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, in an amazing flight to Scotland. Then it came: in June, the German Führer took on his greatest military challenge; the invasion of Soviet Russia. By the end of the second year of the war, the Axis forces were deep into Stalin’s territory. Britain now had a major ally at last.
Now I really enjoyed this book, partly because it made a break from all the reading I do, it was a very good book packed with excellent photos from both sides of the war. In the middle of the book there is a number of pages where all the photos have been colourised, now I’m not sure if I prefer the photographs colourised or not but that is up to the reader. The book is obviously predominantly photograph heavy, but the book contains maps, charts and text to explain the photographs and the course of the war. While this might not be one for the historian, it’s still an excellent book that would happily sit on anyone’s bookshelf.UK Historian
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