Armchair historians will revel in World War II, a strikingly informative and visually gratifying oversized omnibus supervised by three major British journalists: H.P. Willmott, Charles Messenger and Robin Cross. The authors provide the important background on events leading up to the war, especially the aftermath of World War I and the territorial disputes and economic situation in Europe, which became a breeding ground for the rise of Hitler's Nazism. They then launch into cogent, authoritative accounts of events both political and military, from the Battle of Britain to Pearl Harbor to D-Day and beyond to the critical postwar period. Coverage is essentially chronological, yet the straightforward text is enhanced throughout with fascinating sidebars on national leaders and key generals (Churchill, Eisenhower, Stalin, etc.), enlisted men, tanks and airplanes, munitions and related issues including the Holocaust, civilian internments, women on the homefront, and even the war as depicted in cinema. Handy maps and timelines offer quick overviews of the bigger picture as well. For all its good writing, however, this volume's value rests equally with its hundreds of (mostly) black-and-white photos, many very rare, which have been gathered from museums, libraries and newspaper and magazine archives the world over.

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