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  • Published: 21 December 2021
  • ISBN: 9780713995626
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1040
  • RRP: $90.00

Blood and Ruins

The Great Imperial War, 1931-1945

A bold new approach to the Second World War from one of its foremost historians

Richard Overy sets out in Blood and Ruins to recast the way in which we view the Second World War and its origins and aftermath. He argues that this was the 'great imperial war', a violent end to almost a century of global imperial expansion which reached its peak in the ambitions of Italy, Germany and Japan in the 1930s and early 1940s, before descending into the largest and costliest war in human history and the end, after 1945, of all territorial empires.

How war on a huge scale was fought, supplied, paid for, supported by mass mobilization and morally justified forms the heart of this new account. Above all, Overy explains the bitter cost for those involved in fighting, and the exceptional level of crime and atrocity that marked these imperial projects, the war and its aftermath. This war was as deadly for civilians as it was for the military, a war to the death over the future of the global order.

Blood and Ruins is a masterpiece from of one of the most renowned historians of the Second World War, which will compel us to view the war in novel and unfamiliar ways. Thought-provoking, original and challenging, Blood and Ruins sets out to understand the war anew.

  • Published: 21 December 2021
  • ISBN: 9780713995626
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1040
  • RRP: $90.00

About the author

Richard Overy

Richard Overy is Professor in History at the University of Exeter. Formerly Professor of Modern History at King's College, London, his books include William Morris, Viscount NuffieldThe Air War, 1939-1945Dictators, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, The Nazi Economic Recovery, 1932-1938, Goering: The Iron ManAll Our Working Lives (with Peter Pagnamenta), The Origins Of The Second World War, The Road To War (with Andrew Wheatcroft), War And Economy In The Third Reich, The Inter-War Crisis, 1919-1939, Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945, and The Battle: Summer 1940. He is a fellow of the British Academy and winner of the Wolfson History Prize in 2005.

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Praise for Blood and Ruins

Recasting World War Two as the logical continuation of decades of imperial growth and territorial ambition, this new exploration of the conflict is expansive in its geographical and chronological scope. Yet it never loses sight of the very human cost of that ambition ... A weighty, important take from a leading author in the field.

History Revealed

Majestic and original ... Overy has written many fine books, but Blood and Ruins is his masterpiece. At almost 1,000 pages, it puts all previous single-volume works of the conflict in the shade.

Saul David, The Times

His masterly synthesis of the war's vast literature and sources has never been bettered. ... it is unflagging and consistently illuminating.

Geoffrey Roberts, Irish Times

This book is Richard Overy's magnum opus (in every sense of the phrase) ... It would be difficult to overstate the brilliance with which argument and insight are interwoven in a fast-paced narrative ... Extraordinarily compelling, and written with remarkable fluency.

John Darwin, Times Literary Supplement

A truly global view of World War II ... perhaps the single most comprehensive account of the Second World War yet to appear in one volume. You might think that by reading extensively, you could construct a book like this one. You could not ... Richard Overy has done a signal service with this compellingly written, impressively researched book.

Rana Mitter, The Critic

This is a magnificent book that reflects the deep scholarship and humane judgment of a magisterial historian.

The Economist

Richard Overy has produced one of the most stunning accounts of the Second World War and the events that led up to it.

Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph Books of the Year 2021

A magisterial new history ... remarkable in span, depth and scholarship, impressive in sweep and vision, that rightly sees WW2 as starting in China in 1931 and recasts the conflict as a distorted sequel to an earlier epoch.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Aspects of History

Dazzling ... Overy's reframing of WWII as the last gasp of imperialism is astute and incisive. WWII buffs should consider this a must-read.

Publishers Weekly

Let's praise Overy's stupendous achievement. Anybody interested in the why and how of boundless violence in the 20th century should make space for Blood and Ruins on his or her shelf. It will help you to grasp and revisit the carnage of 1931-45 as the largest event in human history. This book is not Eurocentric, but truly geocentric ... it is history at its best.

Josef Joffe, New York Times

Monumental... [A] vast and detailed study that is surely the finest single-volume history of World War Two.

Wall Street Journal

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