Antony Beevor

The author of The Second World War on reading to shed light on a global cataclysm.



Historian Antony Beevor has established himself as one of our era's most important writers on World War II in books like Stalingrad,  D-Day and The Fall of Berlin, 1945.  His latest work -- perhaps his most ambitious to date --  is titled simply The Second World War, and alternates a tight focus on individual moments with a bird's-eye view of one of the modern era's turning points.  This week, Anthony Beevor points us to three favorites that illuminate that momentous conflict from perspectives both familiar and surprising. 


Books by Antony Beevor




By Timothy Snyder


"Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin is the most important work of history for years. Snyder shows what really took place between 1930 and 1945 in the Baltic States, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine. From the Stalinist famines to the death marches of 1945 and the mass ethnic cleansing, these borderlands were the focus of both Stalin's and Hitler's ideological obsessions. This work of passionate honesty is superbly researched and beautifully written."



Life and Fate

By Vasily Grossman


"The War and Peace of Stalinism and the Great Patriotic War. This deliberate act of literary homage to Tolstoy uses the Battle of Stalingrad in the place of the Battle of Borodino and there are several parallels in construction. But the characters and the terrible dilemmas they face when confronted by the moral distortions of the system are entirely the product of the 'wolfhound age' as Mandelstam called it. Grossman, who had spent more time at the front than any other writer, accumulated stories, incidents, and extraordinarily powerful vignettes in his notebooks for use in his novels later."




By Joseph Heller


"This is probably the most devastating satire ever written about the lunacy of war and military bureaucracy. The novel, set in Italy towards the end of the Second World War, is a triumph of construction, with its fiendishly unbreakable circle of counter-logic, as the US bomber squadron is sent on more and more missions by ambitious officers, trying to exceed their objectives."

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.