Norman Stone

World on Fire

The Second World War

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 863pp £25 order from our bookshop

In the early 1990s, the Frankfurter Allgemeine ran a questionnaire, apparently thought up by Proust, to divine the respondents’ character. One question was: ‘Which military achievement do you most admire?’ The limply correct answer, given by most Germans, was ‘none’. Isaiah Berlin wrote ‘the Battle of Britain’, an ingenious answer. During 1940, the general assumption was that the Nazis were militarily superior; some people thought that it would have made sense to find out what Hitler’s terms were. He had overthrown France in a few weeks – in a decisive afternoon, even, when his tanks crossed the River Meuse at Sedan. The British miraculously managed to lift 330,000 men from the trap at Dunkirk, but they left all their equipment behind. Why not at least enquire what Hitler had in mind? 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The 25th Bad Sex in Fiction is happening in a week. There’s a press release if you’re the sort of person who wants a press release ,
    • sorry I can’t spell fluttering. I was agitated.,
    • Probably try and get an announcement out later, for all these male writers who think of fluttering inner muscle sheaths...,
    • He felt the muscles far inside her flutteriung around him,
    • Next week sees return, and we've got discounted tickets on offer, right here: ,
    • We're rarely topical - tricky as a monthly magazine - but we've an article this month all about Laurence Binyon, po… ,
    • "We will remember them" - who wrote those words, and why have them become our terms of memorial? ,