A different way to understand the magnitude of World War II.
Countless books exist about the Second World War and in those can be found all of the statistics to be had: numbers killed, bombs dropped, battles won and lost, ad infinitum. But to see these numbers as infographics gives the reader a fresh perspective on the war.
World War II in Numbers uses color graphics and succinct text to tell the key stories of the battles that engulfed the globe and affected virtually everyone alive during the 1940s.
To see the war set out in numbers tells the story with a new certainty:
The book sets out six chapters with topics discussed in two- and four-page infographics spreads, including certainty:
Compelling, a superb teaching tool, ideal for casual reading and a must-have for military hobbyists, World War II in Numbers is an exciting and powerful perspective on the global conflict.
Peter Doyle is a scientist and military historian specializing in the role of terrain in warfare. He is visiting Professor at University College London, and is co-secretary of the All Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group. In addition to numerous scientific papers and books, he has written The Home Front 1939-1945, The British Soldier in Europe 1939-1945 (both with Paul Evans), Prisoner of War in Germany 1939-1945 and The Blitz.
World War II, 1939-1945, was a truly global war; gradually sucking into a maelstrom the majority of the world's nations, and certainly the world's strongest powers, it became the greatest conflict in world history. Yet, in many ways, it arose from the aftermath of World War I. In 1918 world frontiers were redrawn and old empires dismantled, while the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, condemned Germany to bankruptcy. The 1920s saw the rise of the dangerously maverick figure Adolf Hitler, who aligned German politics with the state control instigated by the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, and moved the country quickly to a point of military readiness in the late 1930s that was in direct contravention of the Versailles treaty.
The Western Allies, weakened by the earlier war and reluctant to start another, stood meekly by. In the East, Josef Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, viewed Hitler with caution, and colluded with him until his own country was drawn into the fight in 1941. With Hitler wishing to avenge Germany's humiliation, he was prepared to push his demands to breaking point, and testing the policy of appeasement practiced by both Britain and France, he would drive the world to the brink.
The war would be fought on four continents, with at least 25 combatant nations. With such distances, the war was driven by its logistical capabilities--on land, the availability of fuel and the extension of supply lines would become paramount. At sea, the world's navies fought extended campaigns, in the protection of civilian supply routes, or in direct ship-to-ship (or aircraft-to-ship) actions. In the skies, air superiority would be all, and new battles would be fought. Aircraft were flying higher, faster, and longer; missiles, unmanned aircraft, jets--all would appear in this technological war. And tank warfare would be developed to its greatest degree.
In the East, Japan had also grown into a power that viewed expansion as a means to its greater development and thought nothing of military conquest to achieve this. The Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945 was a conflict indicative of Japanese ambition: the control of the Pacific. The Japanese were swift to join the Axis powers, bringing the United States into the fray at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and changing the direction and future of the war. Hitler's ambitions to conquer the Soviet Empire through the largest invasion in history, Operation Barbarossa, was also pivotal. It would ultimately lead to the dismantling of the Nazi state, and the creation of the Cold War, which would bring the world even closer to the brink of destruction in later generations.
World War II was a total war. Across the world, economies were linked directly to the needs of the war machine. Industries were geared completely to the production of munitions, and naval engagements became battles to guarantee supply and to break blockades like never before. New and more terrible weapons would be married to new and incredible innovations; battle wounds would be treated with penicillin, aviators would fly in jet aircraft before the war was done. And civilians were no longer capable of standing back from the fight.
As had been predicted by pre-war theorists, aerial armadas would wreak havoc over major cities; bomb tonnages would grow and new ways of razing cities to the ground would be invented, from firestorms to atomic weapons. This would be the only conflict in history where nuclear weapons would be used in action; a reminder of the awesome and terrible power that nations of the world could levy against each other if not kept in check. All in all, some 100 million people worldwide served in a military capacity; their actions would see 73 million people, combatants, and civilians alike, killed. Among these would be the indescribable and breathtaking slaughter of innocents, the murder of the Jews by the Nazis, two out of every three in Nazi-occupied territory; and the terror of the Japanese in China.
The war in Europe ended with much of the continent in ruins, the Nazi state destroyed and dismantled, its territory carved up into eastern and western blocs that would last through to the end of the Cold War in 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In Japan, the combatant nation with the highest rates of battlefield fatalities, the armed forces were committed to last-ditch defense, the home islands were destroyed through bombing, conventional at first, then through the deployment of atomic weapons, and the country was brought to its knees by the time the war was finally over on August 15th, 1945.
Table of Contents
Preparation for War
Weapons and Innovations
In the Air
Selected Sources and Further Reading Index Credits