Reviews for All Hell Let Loose

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“Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945” sums up and surpasses all his previous publications: a new, original and necessary history, in many ways the crowning of a life’s work …. Hastings has a sober, unromantic and realistic view of battle that puts him into a different category from the armchair generals whose gung-ho, schoolboy attitude to war fills the pages of a great majority of military histories. He writes with grace, fluency and authority. “Inferno” offers an account of the war that concentrates on the lived experience of the men and women who took part in it. On almost every page there is memorable and arresting material from interviews, diaries, letters, memoirs and personal documents of many kinds. The huge cast of characters and witnesses gives the book an almost Tolstoyan sweep, as it ranges across the world, from Dunkirk to Iwo Jima, Stalingrad to Guadalcanal.

Hastings is at his absolute best when he is describing battle scenes, both on land and at sea. Deftly chosen quotations are effortlessly integrated into the narratives, providing color and making the action come alive. They are supplemented where appropriate with clear and informative maps and easily digestible statistics. This is at its core very much a military history, despite the space devoted to the experiences of civilians…. As military history in the round, conveying to a 21st-century readership the human experience of this greatest and most savage of human conflicts in history, “Inferno” is superb.”
Richard Evans, The New York Times

“If there is a contemporary British historian who is the chronicler of
World War II, it would be Max Hastings. In book after book, he has zoomed
in on individual theaters and arenas in the global conflict, which
continues to fascinate historians and readers more than 65 years after it
finally came to an end.
Martin Rubin, The Chronicle “Click here for full review”

“All Hell Let Loose is an extraordinary book. Full of opinions, wisdom and humanity, it is surely Hastings’ finest work to date. In its sympathetic and scholarly portrayal of the most destructive war that the world has ever seen, it is an eloquent and persuasive riposte to those who archly suggest that this gruesome subject can teach us nothing more and that we should finally consign it to the dustbin of history. It reminds us all of the enormous sacrifices made, the atrocities committed, the horrors endured, and the many millions of lives wasted – and as such it provides a vital service.

So, do we “need” another big book about the Second World War? Well, if it is as informative, as thought-provoking, and as well-written as this one then yes, absolutely.”
Roger Moorhouse, Independent on Sunday

“… a relatively brief review can only begin to indicate the depth, breadth, complexity and pervasive humanity of this extraordinary book. The literature of World War II is … so vast as almost to defy enumeration or comprehension, but “Inferno” immediately moves to the head of the list. It is in all ways a monumental achievement.”
Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post (click here to read review in full)

“This is the book he was born to write: a work of staggering scope and erudition, narrated with supreme fluency and insight, it is unquestionably the best single-volume history of the war ever written…..Hastings is a master of the telling fact….and he writes with a wonderfully clear, unsentimental eye……and has a terrific grasp of the grand sweep and military strategy……But what makes his book a compelling read are the human stories……at the end of this gruesome, chilling but quite magnificent book, you never doubt that the war was worth fighting”
Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

“I feared that it might be impossible to write anything really fresh about the Second World War. I feared that even a military historian as accomplished as Max Hastings might end up trudging across old ground. Not a bit of it. I think this could be the single best book on the Second World War I have ever read. Certainly, I have never had impressed upon me so forcefully the visceral horror and pervasive savagery of a world gone mad. To read this book about the greatest tragedy in human history is to learn the lesson more surely than ever before that the barbarism of Stalingrad, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima must never happen again.” Dr Neil Faulkner, Editor, Military History Monthly

“In this massive work, the crowning volume of the 10 impressive books he has written about the Second World War, Sir Max Hastings spares us nothing in portraying the sheer bloody savagery of the worst war that the world has yet seen….this magnificent book …..is hypnotically readable from the first page to the last” Sunday Telegraph

“a truly grand achievement: humane, sceptical, vivid, authoritative and utterly free of jingoism or axe-grinding ….he deploys diaries, journals and dispatches magnificently….from Hasting you would expect – and amply receive – sweeping and thrilling set-piece accounts of the movement of the fronts…..it grips and moves on almost every page….compelling” The Independent

“No other general history of the war amalgamates so successfully the gut-wrenching personal details and the essential strategic arguments. Melding the worm’s eye view and the big picture is a difficult trick to pull of – but Hastings has triumphed” Hew Strachan, The Times

“No one could be better qualified than Max Hastings to write a single-volume history that covers every aspect of the second world war….Hastings has an extraordinary ability to throw a bucket into the ocean of wartime papers, diaries, letters and documents of every kind, and bring up something fascinating every time…ALL HELL LET LOOSE also has some of the most powerful photographs of any book I have every read on the second world war……..you will love this splendid…..book. Monty might not have produced his ‘masterstroke’, but Max Hastings certainly has” Andrew Roberts, Financial Times

“majestic…it is impossible to emerge without a sense of the sheer scale of human tragedy…..To gather all these anecdotes together is a task in itself, but to assemble them in a way that makes sense is something entirely different….Hastings shapes all these stories, almost miraculously, into a single coherent narrative. Overlaid upon this tapestry is an analysis of how the war….changed society for ever…Hastings ….has not really given us anything new, but his skill in making it feel new is impressive” Keith Lowe, Daily Telegraph

“”You will struggle to find a better modern primer about the war, or one that successfully combines a deep well of military expertise with a flair for readability and the modish use of personal diaries to illustrate how ordinary people were affected by extraordinary events” Simon Garfield, Mail on Sunday

“a fast-moving, highly readable survey of the entire war…Hastings combines a mastery of the military events with invariably sound judgment and a sharp eye for unusual telling detail….this is military history at its most gripping. Of all Max Hastings’s valuable books, this is possibly his best – a veritable tour de force” Ian Kershaw, Evening Standard

“ALL HELL LET LOOSE attempts to tell the whole story in a single volume, and succeeds triumphantly, combining fluid narrative with some piercing insights and unsentimental judgments…. Threaded through the personal accounts is a narrative which, by an impressive feat of organisation, manages to connect all the theatres of what was the closest the world has come to a truly global conflict…. This enthralling book shows, in the right hands, the study of the war…..can generate an endless stream of new meanings and insights” Patrick Bishop, Standpoint

“ALL HELL LET LOOSE is a masterpiece or reportage…..Hastings’s book is…….the best available for those seeking to understand what the experience of war was like” Vernon Bogdanor, New Statesman