A panoramic narrative of the years leading up to the Second World War—a tale of democratic crisis, racial conflict, and a belated recognition of evil. Hett draws on original sources and newly released documents to show how these long-ago conflicts have unexpected resonances in our own time.
... fast-moving, absorbing ... thanks to the author’s knack for the capsule biography, we gain fascinating insights into less obvious figures ... At times, Hett’s admirable effort at concision gets the better of him. His cast of characters is huge (the glossary of names at the start of the book runs to 12 pages and contains over 100 individuals). But many of the players make barely a cameo, and important developments pass in a blur, or are absent altogether ... Most perplexing of all in a book about the war’s origins, the intense drama of the final week of peace, when nerves were on edge in all the key capitals, is barely covered, as Hett seems impatient to get to the spring of 1940 and Churchill’s ascension to power along with the Nazi attack in the west.
Thought provokingly, Hett notes that commonalities between the 1930s and today, with an increase in nationalism along with media used by skilled politicians to manipulate the masses. Moreover, he suggests that lessons learned by dealing with the Nazi regime could be applied today ...This compelling work is highly recommended for those interested in World War II or in the history of fascism.
In addition to a collection of minibiographies of these pivotal figures, the text is a sometimes-dry, sometimes-gripping, always authoritative story of the 1930s and ’40s and the close parallels that exist with today’s world ... The 12-page cast of characters, divided by nation, is highly useful. An excellent read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the thinking behind World War II.