James J. SheehanOctober 17, 2005 - 10:54am0 comments
by Gregor Dallas
Many Europeans did not feel the full fury of the Second World War until its final year: Italians caught in the bitter partisan battles in the north, French men and women in the path of the allied armies after the Normandy invasion, the citizens of Budapest besieged by the Red Army, the inhabitants of Warsaw whose city was destroyed in a desperate battle against the Nazi occupiers, and, of course, the Germans themselves, who suffered from increasingly intense bombing raids and from the brutality of the advancing Soviet troops. The death throes of Hitler’s regime were long and incredibly painful for his supporters, reluctant allies, embattled enemies, and-as is always the case in war-for the millions of ordinary people unfortunate enough to be pulled into the vortex of violence.
Gregor Dallas’s 1945 complements more than it competes with Max Hastings’s recently published Armageddon, which also covers the final stages of the war. Hastings is one of the world’s finest military historians; no one has a better sense of war’s shape and texture, operations and tactics, strategic designs and human costs. Dallas can also write convincingly about battle, but his major emphasis is on the war’s political purposes and results.
Dallas is especially adept at capturing the interplay of personality and circumstance at the summit of power, where opportunity and necessity uneasily meet. His portraits of the war leaders-...