The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War by ANDREW ROBERTS

by Andrew Roberts

Andrew Roberts (born on 13 January 1963) is a British historian and journalist.

What They Say About The Book


Roberts indicates how often Hitler would have done better, and even won the war, if he had made different choices. This is not an original thought, nor is it claimed as such. No one in 1940 needed to tell Churchill that the Germans stood a good chance of crushing the United Kingdom. In the long summer of 1941, as the German armies streamed as fast as their tanks could carry them towards the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad, it was the belief of nearly every Soviet citizen that the USSR was on the brink of complete defeat. Such was Roosevelt's feeling that the Third Reich was about to gain definitive victory in Europe that he twisted arms in the Washington political establishment to send food and armaments to the United Kingdom even before America's entry into the war.

The central character in the book's drama, inevitably, is Hitler. Roberts's suggestion seems to be that he could only have won the war if he had not allowed it to spiral into a global struggle. Hitler missed his chance to knock out the USSR early on and provoked the US into entering the ring on the side of the opposition. He may have won the war if he had kept it as "the First European War"; the gamble that did not pay off was to make it global.


Ferocious measures were used to compel soldiers to go on fighting in hellish battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk. Stalin shot 135,000 of his own troops — the equivalent of 12 divisions — to encourage the others; before execution they were made to undress so that their uniforms could be reissued. To quote General Zhukov, who also wanted to kill the families of soldiers who surrendered: “In the Red Army it takes a very brave man to be a coward.” Yet Hitler was proportionately even more murderous towards his own forces. It was a tribute to the outstanding qualities of the German soldier, Roberts observes, that the Wehrmacht, retreating on two fronts and battered from the air, remained disciplined and efficient almost to the end.


The Storm of War is, in fact, a seductively easy read. You could open it at any page and it would not fail to draw you in. Stylistically, Roberts has always been very strong, and this book is happily no exception. He segues effortlessly between theatres and events, weaving a complex yet admirably comprehensible tapestry of the conflict. He also has an excellent eye for the ironies and peculiarities that serve to bring his story most vividly to life.

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Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
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Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians