Review by Choice Review
For volume 6 of the series begun by the late Richard Blanco, Zabecki has edited a literally enormous contribution to the secondary resource literature available on WW II in Europe. Designed to meet the reference needs of any level of user, the work features articles by 155 contributors from eight countries and various professions, principally academic and military. Although published in English and part of a series with US emphasis, the work has as its basis the Second World War in Europe. Coverage is therefore provided for matters in the Soviet Union and Italy, as well as the Atlantic, England, France, and northwest Europe. The first three sections (volume 1) examine social and political issues and events, leaders and individuals, and units and organizations. The last three sections (volume 2) examine weapons and equipment (with technical data tables); strategy, tactics, and operational techniques; and battles, campaigns, and operations. The work concludes with five appendixes that include a chronology of the war in Europe, code names, and a selected bibliography (comprising mostly official histories). Two indexes complete the work, one for military units and warships and the other for general items. With more data (including a section on transport planes that explains the support roles of a few airlines) and fewer photos than most WW II encyclopedias, this work is recommended for serious students of politico-military affairs in the 20th century and reference departments emphasizing modern history. M. J. Smith Jr. Tusculum College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Here are two works covering one of the greatest conflicts in history, each designed for a different audience. World War II: A Student Companion is part of Oxford's Student Companion to American History series, written for ages 12 and up. The war is covered on all fronts, with entries on individuals, battles, military organizations, theaters, origins, weapon systems, and countries. Related issues are covered in such entries as African Americans, internment, isolationists, and rationing. According to the preface, "each entry is meant both to provide essential information and to lead readers on to further study by pointing to other entries, suggested readings, and significant films and videos." Articles vary in length from two or three paragraphs to several pages. Nine pages are devoted to the longest, strategic bombing, but other topics also get fairly extended coverage, among them Germany, Japan, Southwest Pacific area, and women. Biographical entries begin with brief summaries of essential facts. Many articles include see also references and further reading lists of standard books. Literature and motion pictures have brief lists of classic World War II novels and films, respectively. A chronology, a list of museums and historic sites, and a general bibliography that includes Web sites give students additional tools to expand their original search. For an older audience, the excellent World War II in Europe is volume six in the Military History of the United States series. Its perspective is that of the U.S. and its participation in the European theater. As the editor says, quoting historian John Keegan, the war is the "single biggest event in human history" and no one reference could ever adequately cover it comprehensively. What this work does quite well is provide 1,400 separate entries on the war, the events leading up to it, and its consequences and results. As the editor notes, most of the entries "easily rate their own book, and many already have." Rather than a regular alphabetical arrangement, the encyclopedia is arranged into six major sections: "Social and Political Issues and Events"; "Leaders and Individuals"; "Units and Organizations;" "Weapons and Equipment"; "Strategy, Tactics, and Operational Techniques"; and "Battles, Campaigns, and Operations." Within each section, entries are arranged alphabetically. The reason for this arrangement, the editor says, is to make it easier for the reader who wants to focus on a particular aspect of the war. In practice, it makes for a complicated ready-reference work. The entries, however, are well written. Each is signed by the author and, where possible, covers the new additions to World War II scholarship. Length ranges from a paragraph to four or five pages, with longer articles generally covering topics in section 6, "Battles, Campaigns, and Operations." Entries are followed by a short list of additional readings. There are 37 strategic maps at the beginning of volume 1, and these are found again in volume 2 in the "Battles, Campaigns, and Operations" section, which also has its own geographical and chronological index. Section 4, "Weapons and Equipment," includes tables of technical data. The encyclopedia has a series of appendixes, including a chronology of the war in Europe, Allied and Axis code names, and a selected bibliography, arranged by broad topic area. These are followed by an "Index of Military Units and Warships" and a general index. The indexes more than make up for the complicated arrangement mentioned previously. Another recent title, The Oxford Companion to World War II [RBB Ag 95], has 1,700 A^-Z entries, including exhaustive essays on major countries, and covers the war with Japan as well as the war with Germany. This would be a good choice for high-school and smaller public libraries; larger libraries probably need both. Both of these new works are highly recommended. For its intended audience, World War II: A Student Companion gives thorough coverage to some topics that are treated in less depth in some multivolume sets. It will be a useful addition to school and public libraries. World War II in Europe is an invaluable study of the Western half of the war and a worthy addition to reference collections in large public and academic libraries.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.