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Download Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders epub

by Gerhard L. Weinberg

Visions of Victory explores the views of eight war leaders of the major powers of World War II - Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt - and compares their visions of the future assuming their side had emerged victorious. While the leaders primarily focused their attention on the strategy for fighting and winning the war, these very decisions were often shaped by their aspirations and hopes for the future. Weinberg assesses how subsequent events were impacted by these decisions and examines how these visions for the future changed and evolved throughout the war.
Download Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders epub
ISBN: 0521708753
ISBN13: 978-0521708753
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Gerhard L. Weinberg
Language: English
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (September 3, 2007)
Pages: 320 pages
ePUB size: 1770 kb
FB2 size: 1989 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 277
Other Formats: docx lrf lrf txt

Gerhard Weinberg has written a very interesting little book (only 233 pages of text) on the end-state goals of each of the major leaders of WW2. The author examines the war aims of Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt with the goal of showing how each envisioned a post-war world from a geographical, political, social, and, in some cases, urban planning perspective. For example, in the case of Hitler, Weinberg examines the dictator’s territorial goals vis-à-vis not only his desire for land in Eastern Europe, but also the future status of the British Isles, the Scandinavian countries, and how Europe’s colonies would be divided between Germany, Italy, and a notional, larger South African state, and the rest of the world. The author also reviews internal, to Germany, political and social changes, urban planning with a new capital of Germania at its heart, and how Germany would rule the states under its control. Hitler’s “means” to achieve his goals included a sequential series of wars with one building off the other, until he could transform the world, which puts some of his “irrational” decisions in context.

He does the same with the other world leaders with varying degrees of detail, depending on available sources. Unlike Hitler’s plan to change the world order, Mussolini and Tojo had a more limited perspective based more on traditional territorial acquisition without the desire to change the world’s political or social structure. Also, whereas Hitler intended to carry out a massive policy of racial extermination and ethnic cleansing, putting Germans on the acquired lands of Eastern Europe, Italy and Japan intended to rule their conquered territories with an Italian or Japanese elite at the top of the hierarchy.

Although the book has some weaknesses, as the author admits, these are based more on the lack of surviving sources or the lack of access to existing papers rather than any weakness from an analytical standpoint. At the same time Weinberg identifies other areas into which further research needs to be done.

Overall a very interesting book, and worth a read.
Of course, it probably goes without saying that a brief book with a limited objective is not at the level of a magisterial history of World War II. I think "A World at Arms" is easily the best one-volume history of World War II. Not only does it give an excellent account of the battles and campaigns, but it also provides a discussion of grand strategy and of the economics aspects of the war. This book, in contrast, has the limited aim of discussing just the postwar aims of eight leaders from Hitler through Roosevelt.

Weinberg has apparently said that this will be his last book. In some ways it is an odd project. I would hazard a guess that it contains his thoughts on a topic that didn't fit well in "A World at Arms" or his other books. The chapters on each leader vary in length from about 14 to 40 pages -- the typeface is fairly large, so even the 40-page entry on Stalin was a quick read -- and in interest. Probably the most substantive chapter is on Hitler, who left a great deal of information on his plans should he win the war. Most of this material, though, was already discussed by Weinberg in "A World at Arms." The chapter on Stalin probably had the most new -- at least, to me -- information. Particularly interesting is Weinberg's belief that at several times during the war Stalin stood ready to cut a deal with Hitler, although Hitler apparently was never willing to consider the prospect. I can't quite remember Weinberg making this point in "A World at Arms." The least satisfactory chapter is on Tojo. Apparently, he did not leave behind many records that would give historians material to reconstruct his hopes for the postwar world. The Japanese plans -- pipe dreams? -- for occupying the Western hemisphere are fascinating, but Weinberg might have emphasized how far-fetched they were. We know that even occupying Midway Island struck many in the Japanese military as beyond their capabilities, much less invading the west coast of the United States.

Weinberg is generally a good writer, but here and there the book could have used a bit more editing. For example, because Hitler and, to a lesser extent, Mussolini had plans for massive building projects in the postwar world, Weinberg feels obliged to discuss all eight of the leaders' views on this subject. Because most of them had no particular plans of this type, the discussion is a bit forced. In a few places the writing is a little weak with the occasional sentence being unclear, or even garbled. Better editing would have helped here.

So, if you have read a lot of books on World War II and think this topic might be interesting, you will probably find this to be a quick and worthwhile read. Overall, though, I found it a bit too superficial to give it more than 3 1/2 stars.
This book is a wonderful summary of the aims of the various countries in WWII. I have heard the now 86-year old author speak at a number of events, and his scope of knowledge is overwhelming. The nice thing about this book is that it is interpretative, rather than just reportorial. While the aims of the U.S. are fairly well known, the chapters on Russia and Japan are especially interesting. And at last, I have leaned the geographical/strategic importance of the Baltic countries and Manchuria.