All Hell Let Loose, By Max Hastings
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Saturday 26 May 2012
Readers who know Max Hastings the dyspeptic opinion-monger - indeed, some who have read his narrower military histories - may be surprised or awed by this book.
Not another doorstop chronicle of the Second World War, this is his masterpiece: humane, sceptical, vivid, authoritative, quite free of jingoism. He delivers "bottom-up... experiences", of civilians and combatants alike.
From him you might expect the panoramic set-pieces, the grand strategy and landmark battles of 1939-1945. He draws superbly too on diaries, journals and reports.
The epic closes without a whiff of triumphalism, leaving just a great sadness behind.
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