Just finished re-re-re-reading Norman Davies’ No Simple Victory, an essential, encyclopedic work on World War Two on the Eastern front. Professor Davies brings home the enormity of that conflict which is still incompletely understood in the West. Of particular interest are:
- an exhaustively documented characterization of the USSR and National Socialist Germany as essentially two morally equivalent gangs (bad news for Western fellow travelers who were complicit in creating the myth of the “purely good” Soviets fighting the “purely evil” Nazis and who promoted and continue to promote the notion that communism and socialism are really “good” and “on our side”),
- a complex and realistic accounting of how many millions people really did die, and whether Khrushchev’s claims of 20 million Soviet dead is accurate,
- the titanic size of the operations on the Eastern front in comparison with which Allied operations in the West seem insignificant (though they were not);
and, what had struck me in particular,
- the tremendous contribution to the war that Poland had made throughout the war, and how poorly that nation had been repaid for its titanic efforts by allies both in the East and West. (For more information on this momentous betrayal by all of Poland’s “allies,” pick up A Question of Honor by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud.)
If you want to have your notions about World War Two shaken up or shattered (and a good thing, too!), read this book.