Please join us for a discussion with Victor Davis Hanson on his new book
THE SECOND WORLD WARS:
How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won
In Conversation with Rich Lowry
“An ingenious, always provocative analysis of history’s most lethal war.”
— KIRKUS Starred Review
“[Hanson’s] unusual approach yields new insights about long-familiar events, making his experiments ingenious and successful.”
— AMERICA IN WWII Magazine
“[Hanson’s] organizational approach allows him to isolate and highlight observations that may surprise even some well-read WWII enthusiasts.”
— Publishers Weekly
About the Book
World War II is usually understood through the logical frame that the mid-twentieth century provides—the aftermath of World War I, the rise of European totalitarianism, the ramifications of the Great Depression or the state of industrial technology. Yet esteemed military historian Victor Davis Hanson believes that the World War II is best understood through the unprecedented merging of multiple conflicts around the world, and emphasizes that the global scale in which it was fought was a culmination of a 2,500 year history of Western military and cultural tradition.
In his new book THE SECOND WORLD WARS: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won (Basic Books; October 17, 2017), Hanson offers a novel reinterpretation of the war, focusing in detail on how it was fought in the air, at sea, and on land—and thus where, when, and why the Allies won.
World War II sent the youth of American, British, German, Japanese, Italian, and Russian families across the globe in odd alliances against each other. Beginning in 1939, they battled in the air, at sea, and on the ground for all sorts of expressed reasons, fighting with machines that were often new and in ways still not fully understood, and confronting a variety of different enemies. Never before had a conflict been fought in so many different ways–from rocket attacks on London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya. It was only in time that these battles coalesced into one war.
Throughout, Hanson situates World War II squarely within the history of war in the West over the past 2,500 years. In profound ways, the war was unique: the most lethal event in human history, with 50 million dead, in which the winners suffered over 80% of the war’s dead, the vast majority of them civilians. But the war’s origins were not really novel; reformulated ancient ideas of racial and cultural superiority fueled the global bloodbath. Nor was the war’s geography unusual. Gibraltar remained unconquerable, just as it had since 1713, and the Germans had no better luck attacking Russia from the West than had the Swedish king Charles XII in 1708 or Napoleon in 1812. Most importantly, the Allies had a far better appreciation of the formula that historically put a final end to conflicts: destroying and occupying the enemy’s homeland.
About the Author
Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services.
He writes weekly columns for National Review Online and Pajamas Media, and is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College, where he teaches courses each fall semester in military history and classical culture.
He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007, the Bradley Prize in 2008, and was a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism in 2002. He has written or edited 17 books. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980.
He divides his time between his forty-acre vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus. Dr. Hanson is also a guest interlocutor for NRI’s Regional Fellows programs in New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Dallas, TX.