Within Western culture, World War Two continues to exercise an extraordinary fascination for generations unborn when it took place. The obvious explanation is that it was the greatest and most terrible event in human history. Within the vast compass of the struggle, some individuals scaled summits of courage and nobility, while others plumbed depths of evil, in a fashion that compels the awe of posterity. Among citizens of modern democracies to whom serious hardship and collective peril are unknown, the tribulations which hundreds of millions endured between 1939 and 1945 are almost beyond comprehension. Hastings tells the story of the war in a clear and compelling narrative, ranging across a vast canvas from the agony of Poland in 1939 and the horrors of the Soviet front to the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan in August 1945. This is a book which shows vividly what war meant for individuals from allied soldiers, sailors and airmen, to SS killers, to civilians caught up in the war like British housewives who endured the Blitz and the citizens of Leningrad who suffered through a siege of almost unimaginable horror.