Struggle for Survival; The History of the Second World War, 1989
R.A.C. Parker is Fellow, Tutor, and Praelector in Modern History at Queen's College, Oxford. Although Parker first had interests in English agricultural history his thoughts changed to the histories of the 1930's and 1940's, especially the origins of World War II./ Among Parker's other works are Chamberlain And Appeasement: British Policy And The Coming Of The Second World War, and Europe 1919-1945, which has been translated into German, Italian, and Spanish.
Struggle for Survival is a detailed historic account of World War II. It not only portrays the characters, events, and statistics of the second world war, but attempts to give insight into the reasons behind the events and the war itself. Parker gives an in-depth look at the origins of Germany's "war machine". After World War I Germany was dealt a severe blow with the Treaty of Versailles. By signing the treaty, Germany accepted blame for the war, agreed to downsize its army and artillery, and was forced to pay reparations for the cause of the war. The German citizens' moral was low and their pockets empty. The stage was set for the rise of Adolf Hitler. As a self-proclaimed leader, Hitler vowed to avenge Germany's defeat in the first war and ignore the Versailles Treaty. Hitler's first attempts at territorial expansion were reacted to with the Munich Act which would give Germany Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia with the conditions that Germany would make no more territorial demands. The Munich Pact was broken by Germany and the war had all but begun. Parker explains Germany's early expansionist actions in its conquest of Poland and the nonaggression pact Hitler signed with Stalin. He describes in detail the new method of war called blitzkrieg. He then proceeds to describe Germany's invasion of Norway, with its valuable port of Narvik, through which Germany received its raw iron ore. Hitler proceeded with his conquering of the low countries of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The low countries requested allied help but in attempted aid the allied forces were surrounded and of no help. Next Germany aimed its forces at France. With Germany's blitzkrieg attack, France's only choice was an armistice that would allow Germany to occupy two-thirds of France. Most impacting on was is the day the United States entered the war. In response to Japanese conquests in Southeast Asia, the United Stated cut off exports to Japan. In retaliation, and without warning, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The next day, December 8th 1941 the U.S. declared war on Japan, resulting in Germany's declaration of war on the U.S. Parker then continues to describe D-Day, Britain and the United States' almost unsuccessful raid on the beaches of Northern France. On April 25, 1945, with Germany's capital Berlin captured Hitler commited suicide thus ending the war in Europe. Three months later on August 6, 1945, with seemingly no other options, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After dropping a bigger one on the city of Nagasaki, Japan signed an official statement of surrender ending the second world war.
I enjoyed the book Struggle for Survival greatly. Before reading it I did not fully understand World War II, nor our involvement in it. Seeing it laid out, in a time-line-like fashion I was able to develop a mental picture of the war. Because it was so in-depth I was able to get more out of this book than I would out of a history fact due also to the fact of the limited time discussing the subject. Parker's style read, at times, almost like a story and kept me interested until it was over.