Keith douglas

The horror of tank warfare brought vividly to life

If Joseph Stalin was right about one thing it was his assertion that ‘the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic’. Numbers don’t inspire empathy. They don’t tell stories. Nothing exemplifies this principle better than the second world war. The deadliest armed conflict in human history killed an estimated 70 million people or 3 per cent of the world’s population, and yet these numbers will make few people weep. They are difficult to fathom without faces. James Holland’s greatest strength as a military historian is that he brings humanity to his work — a rare trait in a field of research that can