Volume 1: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941
The first part of an astonishing and revelatory new history of the Second World War from one of the UK's most exciting and expert young historians
Are you ready for the truth about World War Two?
The Second World War is the most cataclysmic and violent sequence of events in recent times. But for the past seven decades, our understanding of it has relied upon conventional wisdom, propaganda and an interpretation skewed by the information available. James Holland has spent over twelve years conducting new research, interviewing survivors, visiting battlefields and archives that have never before been so accessible and challenging too-long-held assumptions about the war that shaped our world.
In Germany Ascendant, the first part of this ground-breaking new history, James Holland introduces the war, beginning with the lead-up to its outbreak in 1939 and taking us up to mid-1941 as the Nazis prepared to unleash Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. To tell the real story, he weaves together the experiences of dozens of individuals, from civilians and soldiers, to sailors, pilots, leading military strategists, industrialists and heads of state, and uncovers the strategy, tactics and events that informed not only the military aspects of the war but also the economic, political, and social aspects too.
The War in the West is a truly monumental history of the war on land, in the air, and at sea. In it, James Holland has created a captivating and epic narrative which redefines and enhances our understanding of one of the most significant conflicts in history.
“A marvellously readable book”
Gary Sheffield, BBC History Magazine – Books of the Year 2015
“Impeccably researched and superbly written . . . Holland’s fascinating saga offers a mixture of captivating new research and well-considered revisionism. The next two volumes should be unmissable.”
Alexander Larman, Observer
“Holland’s history is a work of revisionism with a vengeance. Through his emphasis on logistical support and technology, he continually demolishes cherished myths about the war . . . This is a magnificent, authoritative contribution to the study of the Second World War.”
Leo McKinstry, Literary Review
“This brilliant, lucid and intimate history is a game-changer, the Second World War will never seem the same again. If you think you know the real history of the Second World War this book will astonish you: it renders other popular histories redundant”
Professor David Edgerton, King's College, London
“The most refreshing and engaging book about the Second World War that I have read in a long time. The absorbing narrative is laced with a passion and enthusiasm and stands head and shoulders above the current crop of titles in the genre”
“James Holland is the best of the new generation of WW2 historians. His epic new venture convincingly challenges many received ideas about the war and draws some exciting new conclusions”
“James Holland’s War in the West takes a fresh look at the familiar and finds much food for thought – turning several conventions on their heads in a compelling and revelatory way”
“This book stands apart and for all the right reasons: Holland has something new to say. Every page is alive with a level of excitement and enthusiasm. Here is a perspective that turns on its head what I thought I understood about those astonishing years - filled with insight and detail”
“With this magnificent, hugely readable debut, James Holland’s War in the West is set fair to become one of the truly great multi-volume histories of the Second World War”
“James Holland has produced a gripping multi-layered study of the War in West. It weaves together accounts from all levels of those caught up in the opening stages of the war and provides an accessible and captivating narrative. More importantly still it offers a challenging reappraisal that forces us to rethink our attitudes to the conduct of the most destructive and important war in history. Essential reading”
Professor John Buckley, Professor of War Studies, Wolverhampton University & author of Monty’s Men
“A hugely engaging, scholarly and ambitious book that strips away the myths surrounding the Second World War and - uniquely - tells the human stories, not just the political and military history. A must-read for anyone with an interest in this turbulent and transformative period.”
“In The War in the West, James Holland weds his typically deft writing to years of research and thought. He seeks - and finds - that elusive middle ground between the high politics of Hitler, Churchill, and Roosevelt and the personal experience of the soldier in the field. I am already making room on my shelf for volumes two and three. I would read anything Holland writes.”
“James Holland’s excellent first volume in his new trilogy The War in the West skewers many myths about the beginning of the Second World War, not least that of invincible Nazi superiority and comparative Allied incompetence”
Alexander Larman, Daily Express