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Opportunity Costs

Edward Luttwak: ‘The Bombing War’

21 November 2013
The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 852 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 7139 9561 9
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... Americans against German cities. Americans come last chronologically, and also in intent, for as Richard Overy explains succinctly and well, the US saw the bombing of cities as a last resort and not the very first aim, as it was for Bomber Command. However, from Appendix 2 of the Hamburg police president’s report, which isn’t reproduced in the ...
21 September 1995
Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth 
by Gitta Sereny.
Macmillan, 757 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 333 64519 7
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... Albert Speer, Hitler’s pet architect and wartime armaments supremo, has always been regarded differently from the rest of Hitler’s henchmen. The ragbag of embittered veterans and political terrorists, shadows of Hitler himself, had little in common with the respectable and prosperous Speer, too young to have fought in the First World War, too fastidious and bourgeois for street-brawl politics ...

Poor Man’s War

Richard Overy

12 October 1989
Second World War 
by Martin Gilbert.
Weidenfeld, 846 pp., £18.95, August 1989, 9780297796169
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The Second World War 
by John Keegan.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 09 174011 8
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... It has suddenly become fashionable to sneer at the memory of the Second World War. The national press has been home to editorials and opinion columns archly condemning the anniversary as so much media junketing, as one long yawn. It is true that a great many people have jumped late and unceremoniously on the bandwagon, trivialising the past, capitalising cheaply on recollection ...

Stand and Die

Richard Overy: Rückzug

9 October 2013
Rückzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944 
by Joachim Ludewig, edited by David Zabecki.
Kentucky, 435 pp., £33.95, September 2012, 978 0 8131 4079 7
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... Hitler’s poor strategic judgment. Ludewig’s focus on military disaster followed by sudden recovery transforms the German army in the West into a heroic shield, rather than a brittle last line of defence before eventual defeat in March 1945. His question is how, in the most adverse of circumstances, it was possible to construct such a shield and what it ...

C (for Crisis)

Eric Hobsbawm: The 1930s

6 August 2009
The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 522 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9563 3
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... are essentially not about the past, but about the retrospect to it of some subsequent present. Richard Overy’s The Morbid Age demonstrates another, and less indirect, approach to the emotional texture of the past: the difficult excavation of contemporary popular reactions to what was happening in and around people’s lives – one might call it the ...

Dun-Coloured Dust

Thomas de Waal: Russia’s war

15 July 1999
Russia's War 
by Richard Overy.
Penguin, 416 pp., £8.99, July 1999, 0 14 027169 4
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by Antony Beevor.
Viking, 512 pp., £12.99, May 1999, 0 14 024985 0
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... Certainly the history of what actually happened in the war has only just begun to be written. Richard Overy’s impressive overview is a reminder of how poorly the English-speaking reader has been served with histories of the war on the Eastern Front. Although it was of a far greater order of magnitude than the war in the West (Hitler sent 228 ...

Who remembers the Poles?

Richard J. Evans: Between Hitler and Stalin

4 November 2010
Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin 
by Timothy Snyder.
Bodley Head, 524 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08141 2
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... of other historians have written recently, and more perceptively, about this same topic, from Richard Overy in The Dictators to Robert Gellately in Lenin, Stalin and Hitler – some, like Norman Davies in Europe at War 1939-45, from a similar perspective to Snyder’s own. Despite the widespread misapplication of Hitler’s statement about the ...
25 October 1990
Yours, Plum: The Letters of P.G. Wodehouse 
edited by Frances Donaldson.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 09 174639 6
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... seem to have been both immediate and final, like the effects in his own books. In 1956 he reminded Richard Usborne, author of Clubland Heroes, of the source of a quotation. Smiling, the boy fell dead. Mr Usborne, really! I thought everyone knew Robert Browning’s poem ‘An Incident in the French Camp’. Young lieutenant comes to Napoleon with the news that ...


Andrew Brighton: On Peter Fuller

7 November 1991
... extinction. Back in 1975, Spens replaced Peter Townsend as editor of Studio International with Richard Cork. Townsend went on to found Art Monthly in 1976 with Jack and Nell Wendler. Under Townsend, James Faure-Walker had been a contributor to Studio International. Cork made his copy less welcome and Faure-Walker and others set up Artscribe. Eventually ...

In the Soup

David Trotter: Air Raid Panic

8 October 2014
The Next War in the Air: Britain’s Fear of the Bomber, 1908-41 
by Brett Holman.
Ashgate, 290 pp., £70, June 2014, 978 1 4094 4733 7
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... state’ has been extensively studied from a variety of angles, most recently in Richard Overy’s The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45, which includes an authoritative account of the evolution into doctrine of the belief that strategic bombing defined the purpose of the modern air force as an instrument capable of transforming warfare. ...

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