Why the Allies Won by Richard Overy
Why the Allies Won is a rarity among history books: difficult to simplify and a pleasure to read, it says many interesting things about a familiar topic without lapsing into banality or sophistry. To the question underlying the title of his book, Richard Overy, a professor of modern history at King’s College, London, offers many answers, some broad, others specific, all solidly grounded yet none alone sufficient to explain the outcome of World War II.
Overy takes for a starting point the view that “much of what we believe about the war is illusion.” By this, however, he does not mean to signal a revisionist account that will topple established verities. Rather, he is concerned that we have forgotten how narrow was our escape. Allied victory in the war is now commonly regarded as an inevitability, the only conceivable outcome for a cause whose superior moral claim was backed by equally superior might. Few today recall the alternative paths available to the Allies, which, had they been followed, might have led to a negotiated settlement, to a military stalemate, or to surrender.
About the Author
Bret Stephens is a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and the author of the paper’s “Global View,” a weekly column.