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The book has ten chapters: the first is an analysis of the build-up to the war, the next seven chapters cover the war itself and the final chapter examines how victory for the USA and the USSR shaped the subsequent history of the 20th century. The chapters are arranged as far as possible to give a clear chronological account of the war as it developed in all theatres, both on the battlefields and on the home front. Each begins with an overview of the situation at the starting point of the chapter. The following sections are each introduced by a timeline of the events covered. The main text is accompanied by maps, feature boxes on many aspects of life during the war, and brief biographies of major personalities. This enhanced version includes 16 additional pages of a gazetteer of World War II memorials, battlefields, and museums
Robin Cross has written on many aspects of the war, in particular the war in the air, the home front and the role of women. His titles include Bombers, The Citadel: the Battle of Kursk, republished in 2002 in the Penguin Classic Military History series, and Unsung Heroines (with Dame Vera Lynn and Jenny de Gex). He has also written extensively on the cinema of the era. Charles Messenger served as an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment before becoming a full-time military historian and defence analyst. His many books on the war include The Second World War in the West for the Cassell History of Warfare series and works on the Commandos, Bomber Harris and General Gerd von Rundstedt. He has also written and helped direct television documentaries. H.P. Willmott is a widely published military historian and former Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. His many books on modern naval and land warfare include the When Men Lost Faith in Reason: Reflections on War and Society in the Twentieth Century (2002) and DK's The First World War (2003). With an introduction by Russell Weigley, the distinguished American military historian, author of The American Way of War.