Perhaps you may have missed it but earlier this month saw the publication of a new history on the Second World War by Norman Stone. As of yet i haven’t read the work so i cannot offer my opinion of it fully, but i am afraid i am the mood to prejudge the book in that i do not expect great things from it due to it’s length. Click on the Amazon link and you will see that it is a “Short history”, and what it means by that is the entire work is only approximately 270 pages long.
My prejudgment is based on a little bit of experience. Last year saw the release of another work, this time only 200 pages long (or 190 pages plus 6 pages of footnotes and 4 pages of select bibliography), which was a biography of Hitler by a certain A.N Wilson. Something which i have already described in these forums as “ridden with factual error” and “easily amongst the worst biographies of him that I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across, but then i also have the feeling this book was not aimed at a person like me.”
The book, like the current one from Norman Stone, was designed for a general audience, not for anyone who takes History seriously. Granted therefore we ought to judge it by some degree of looser standards compared to say some of the works i have often cited in my posts like the Biography written by Ian Kershaw or the Third Reich trilogy by Richard Evans but even so this was little excuse for the deep flaws of A.N Wilson’s book so brilliantly exposed here.
So i fear for the latest work by Norman Stone. The entire history of World War 2 is such a vast subject that in my opinion it simply cannot be covered within the space of 300 pages without omitting many of the details needed to make it a proper history of the Second World War.
This is the reason why i do not think i will be using it as a citation anytime soon. I have other works in my bookshelf such as Martin Gilbert’s “Second World War” which on page count alone is almost Three times as long as Stone’s book but my edition is also written on larger than average pages also.
(Image: A Size comparison. My copy of Martin Gilbert’s “Second World War” compared to my copy of Ian Kershaw’s “Nemesis” (pt2 of his biography of Hitler. “Hubris” or pt1 is virtually the same size) and also my copy of A.N Wilson’s “short biography of Hitler”)
I guess the final clincher in me deciding to use Stone’s work as a citation is me reading it, and i would like to hope i am wrong in my prejudgements here. But as i have laid out, i am not optimistic.