Noble Frankland

Keeping the bear at bay

Who would think that a battle as decisive as Marathon or Waterloo took place at the gates of Warsaw in August 1920? Such is the question that Adam Zamoyski poses at the beginning of his account of the war between Lenin’s Soviet Russia and Pilsudski’s Catholic Poland, fought in the twilight between the first and

The ebb and flow of war

Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940–41by Ian Kershaw Britain’s decision to fight on in 1940; Hitler’s to attack the Soviet Union in 1941; in the same year, Roosevelt’s to wage undeclared war in the Battle of the Atlantic; Japan’s to attack Pearl Harbor and expand southwards; Hitler’s declaration of war against America

Last but not least

Of six million Russian soldiers captured by the Germans, only one million are still alive in 1945, two million German women raped by Russian soldiers in the last months of the war, countless millions of Jews and others done to death in German concentration camps, 12 million displaced persons wandering about in Germany at the

Finding the tools to finish the job

This massive study of Hitler’s war economy runs to half the length of War and Peace, partly for the reason that the author shares with Tolstoy the annoying habit of repeating himself frequently and at length. Although I suspect the book will be cited more often than read and perhaps more often read than understood,

No reason to pull down the statue

Listing page content here The title of Gordon Corrigan’s book tells us it is not going to be a Churchillian panegyric, so it comes as almost a disappointment to find no new revelations needful for the dethroning of the former national hero. All we are given is an emphasised reminder that Churchill’s history, The Second

When the tide of blood turned

If one was shot through the head in the battle of Stalingrad or the battle of Alamein, the sensation, presumably, would be much the same, but there the similarity would end. The second world war on the Russian front was fought on a catastrophically different scale from that in the West. In the course of

Bamboozling the opposition

This book, like so much of the modern western population, is obese. It weighs three pounds one and a half ounces (1.4 kg) and runs to 1,148 pages. I read it in a series of closely connected long sessions, hoping thereby to retain the thread, but unfortunately there is not much of a thread to

Cooking the books

Churchill conceded that the ultimate verdict on his conduct of the second world war would have to be left to the judgment of history. But, as a precaution he resolved to write that history himself. The result was the six volumes and nearly two million words of The Second World War published between 1948 and

A hiding to nothing

The story of Hitler’s last days in his bunker has been told and retold many times, perhaps most famously and certainly first by Hugh Trevor-Roper, an elegant writer and witty satirist but not really much of a historian. No doubt it will continue to be told again and again for many generations to come. The

Laying a persistent ghost

Although it probably won’t, this book deserves to lay the ghost of Dresden, to demolish the myth and establish the rule of objective historical judgment. Frederick Taylor opens his investigation as long ago as AD 350 and carries it down to 2003. On the way, he gives us a condensed history of the strategic air