Moral Combat: A History of World War II
A clear, chronological narrative exploring many of the ethical dilemmas posed for real people during and after the Second World War. Literature on the Second World War is voluminous. In 'Moral Combat', however, Michael Burleigh achieves what few historians can claim to have done; by exploring the moral sentiment of entire societies and their leaders, and how this changed under the impact of total war, he presents readers with an entirely fresh perspective of this conflict. Opening with the 'predators' - Mussolini, Hitler, Prince Hirohito of Japan - and moving onto appeasement (a popular policy or a 'wrong' policy?), the rape of Poland, Barbarossa, the role of Churchill, and the Holocaust, Burleigh analyses the moral dimension of the Second World War's most important moments. More than merely a history of 'great men', however, Burleigh also examines the moral reasoning of individuals who had to make choices under circumstances difficult to imagine. Stressing the maxim that the past is used to make sense of the present world we live in, he takes us right up to today's war on terror - a war of competing ideas. What, in the end, will constitute its victory? Burleigh's fascinating and deeply engaging exploration refuses to draw lessons from the past for the future, remaining instead firmly focused on the on-the-spot decisions that came to define the conflict. Original, perceptive and remarkable in scope, this is an unforgettable and hugely important Second World War history.
'This is Burleigh at his best!a consummate encapsulator, with a masterly grip on an enormous literature!it demystifies, and presses on us the moral imperative of self-examination' Independent 'A magnificent moral survey of the Second World War!a long, brilliant, original, opinionated and scholarly meditation on morality as it appeared, or failed to appear, during the last global conflict!Seldom has a study of the past combined such erudition with such exuberance' Guardian 'A powerful and timely book!this is one of the most important books on the Second World War to be published in recent years' Evening Standard 'As always the colour and power of Burleigh's prose is outstanding' Observer 'Burleigh's outstanding book reminds us some things should never be forgotten' Sunday Times 'Michael Burleigh has long been one of our foremost writers on the importance of ethics in history, and in this deeply researched , closely argued and well-written analysis of the moral issues thrown up by the Second World War he has reached the zenith of his career' Sunday Telegraph Praise for 'The Third Reich': 'This is writing of the highest order!one can barely envisage a contemporary work of hstory more lucid, more penetrating or pained onto a broader canvas.' Financial Times 'Astonishing and awe-inspiring ! a breathtaking achievement, at once broader and deeper than any other single volume ever published on the subject!it is the product of authentic historical genius.' Niall Ferguson, Sunday Times 'This is a monumental book, a tour de force.' Richard Overy, Sunday Telegraph 'Burleigh calls his work "a new history" and for once that claim is fully justified. An original work in which narrative history, rigorous analytic explanation and unblinking intellectual moral judgement are united with compelling originality.' Michael Andre Bernstein, Los Angeles Times 'Michael Burleigh has produced a modern classic!this book is a masterwork.' Washington Times 'His narrative is eminently accessible, the formidable learning lightly worn, the canvas immense!unpretentious and humane.' TLS
Michael Burleigh is Distinguished Research Professor in Modern History at Cardiff University. He is the author of eight well-received books, including 'Sacred Causes', 'Earthly Powers', 'Blood and Rage' and 'The Third Reich', for which he was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001.