Despite that the Second World War may have ceased with the official surrender of the Japanese Empire in 1945, it remains a matter of debate about which crucial events defined the final course of this global conflict. Twelve Turning Points of the Second World War is a non- fictional war book written by historian Philip Michael Hett Bell. In his book, he uses a set of fixed criteria, such as military and political and economic events, to explain the decisive moments of the Second World War.
Moreover, Bell’s book is an ambitious work that embodies the fruits of many years of research and the controversial task of coming up with a definitive list of twelve turning points that would dictate the fate of the Axis Powers. At the same time, the author is aiming at wrong idea that the war followed a well-marked Allied victory. Since this book is a vivid portrayal of the catastrophic days of World War II, it offers the reader a narrative insight on the most crucial conflict of the last century.
From the beginning, Belt’s work immerses the reader in the drama and action of the Second World War while providing a magnificent understanding of the defining events that decided the course and outcome of World War II. Throughout the book, Belt covers a wide range of topics, including the colossal loss of life during the markable events of Pearl Harbor, the Stalingrad siege, and the D-Day campaign. He also examines carefully the fundamental role played by the three leaders of the Allied powers — Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt— in the victory of the Allied forces and the eventual development and use of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.
As you would expect, the book examines almost the entire history of World War II chronologically by dividing it into three mains phases: the initial expansion of the Axis powers, the failure of the Nazis to defeat Great Britain and the Soviet Union on multiple fronts, and the victory of the Allied powers. Moreover, a recurrent theme in the book is the emergence of modern weapons systems such as atomic power, advanced aircraft, missile use and submarine development. In this sense, modern military weapon played a significant role in thrilling moments that led to the death of millions of people in all fronts, the devastation of whole cities, and the nuclear arm races among world powers.
The author writes at a level which assumes the reader is knowledgeable of World War II and has read at least some of the popular histories. As the book unfolds, the courage and sacrifice of the heroes are reflected through the numerous personal letters from the leaders of the Allied powers and from fragments of soldiers’ diaries. These first-hand war experiences offer the readers a psychological perspective of how the twelve turning points could have contributed to the morale of the troops and the final outcome of the war. Thus, giving the book a real flavor of the times. Although, the author makes a convincing argument regarding his final list of twelve main turning points in the Second World War, he fails to acknowledge in his book the significance of the major battles fought in North Africa. This discrepancy is mainly due to the vast scope of WWII. Thus, no author writing about WWII can cover the entire conflict in one volume without choosing to emphasize certain events and paying less attention to others. Overall, each chapter of the book gives a well detailed overview of the events, without going into hundreds of pages in details, and written from the authors own subjective interpretation of the events.