The Second World War A Complete History

Martin Gilbert

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

928 Pages


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It began with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. By the time it came to an end on V-J Day—August 14, 1945—it had involved every major power and become global in its reach. In the final accounting, it would turn out to be, in human terms and material resources, the costliest war in history, taking the lives of forty million people.

Now, in one brilliant volume, eminent historian Martin Gilbert offers the complete history of the Second World War. With unparalleled scholarship and breadth of vision, Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill as well as one of the leading experts on the Holocaust, weaves together political, military, diplomatic, and civilian elements to provide a global perspective on the war, creating a work that is both a treasure trove of information and a gripping, dramatic narrative.


Praise for The Second World War

"Gilbert's flowing narrative is spiced with anecdotal details culled from diaries, memoirs, and official documents. He is especially skillful at interweaving summaries of military strategy with vignettes of civilian suffering."—Newsweek

"A magisterial work . . . Mr. Gilbert brings the strongest possible credentials to his history of World War II, and [shows] how the greatest war ever fought reached into every corner of the globe."—Herbert Mitgang, The New York Times

"Brings the losses and the horrors of the war home to us more urgently than a more accented account might do."—Gordon A. Craig, The New York Times Book Review

"Gilbert overcomes the passage of fifty years to remind us that people died horribly and often anonymously every day of the war. To all those who did, but especially to those for whom we have little or no record, Gilbert proffers this book as their monument."—Chicago Tribune

"A Bayeux tapestry in its day-to-day presentation of events, but a 'Guernica' in its impact."—The Times (London)

"In his transmission of the horror of the war, Gilbert has achieved something no historian but he could. There is indeed a relentless force about chronology when it is used as a tool by an historian of the status of Martin Gilbert."—John Keegan, The Sunday Telegraph

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Martin Gilbert

  • Sir Martin Gilbert was knighted in 1995 "for services to British history and international relations." The author of an eight-volume biography of Winston Churchill, among his other books are Churchill: A Life, The First World War, The Second World War, and most recently The Somme. He lives in London, England.

  • Martin Gilbert ©Sigrid Estrada