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If your grasp of the events of World War II, like mine, is basic and you want to know more, try this single volume account by British historian Anthony Beevor. The author has created a thorough but readable account that relates the main facts of the conflict, but includes details such as personal accounts from letters, diary entries and eye-witness testimony that keep the human (and inhuman) perspective in focus. The scale of World War II, both in terms of how many countries were involved, either as combatants or victims, and the sheer cost in the form of human lives lost, is staggering. Altogether, historians estimate that between 60 and 70 million people were killed (the majority of them civilians), as a result of combat, bombing campaigns, invasions, starvation resulting from destruction of agriculture, dislocation, or the interruption of food supplies, and systematic genocide. Beevor does not shy away from the human suffering that occurred during the conflict, therefore this book is not always easy to read, but it will give you a firm understanding of a historical event that affected most of the globe, and did much to shape the world we live in since that time.
Recommended by Catherine