The New York Times Complete World War II, 1939-1945: The Coverage from the Battlefields to the Home Front

By Ames, Drew | America in WWII, February 2014 | Go to article overview

The New York Times Complete World War II, 1939-1945: The Coverage from the Battlefields to the Home Front


Ames, Drew, America in WWII


The New York Times Complete World War II, 1939-1945: The Coverage from the Battlefields to the Home Front

edited by Richard Overy, foreword by Tom Brokaw, Black Dog and Leventhal, 611 pages plus DVD, $40.

THE NEW YORK TIMES has been published continuously since 1851 and is widely regarded as one of America's premier newspapers. It has won more Pulitzer Prizes than any other paper, starting with its first in 1918, for complete and accurate coverage of World War I. That tradition of excellent war reporting continued during the '30s and '40s with coverage of the events leading up to World War II and the war itself. Now the paper's articles related to the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 are collected in a single book and companion DVD.

As the compilation's editor, Richard Overy, states in his introduction, the articles represent "history in the raw." They are stories reported while events were taking place, built on facts and details witnessed by reporters, interviews with official sources, and facts gathered from whoever else could provide them before a story's deadline. Despite being hampered by censorship (by our own and other governments), deliberate misinformation, embargoes on war news, and the physical danger of being in a war zone, Times correspondents (and Associated Press and United Press reporters whose articles ran in the Times) reported the news faithfully in all its complexity.

The New York Times Complete World War II is attractive and large--12 inches tall by 9 inches wide. When opened fully, the page spreads are nearly the width of a newspaper page. This layout allows both long and short articles to flow naturally across the pages with clear text, photos, and illustrations.

The content is a curated selection of articles from throughout the war. A prologue that covers events from 1919 to 1939, including Adolf Hitler's and Benito Mussolini's rise to power, Japan's invasion of China, and increasing concerns over whether the United States could remain neutral. Each of the 24 chapters covers two to six months of the war, and the book's epilogue has articles from 1945 to 1949 that report on the aftereffects of the war, including the establishment of the state of Israel, the Berlin airlift, and the rise of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union.

The articles reprinted here bring to life the full complexity of Western democracies at war. There are, of course, reports of battles. A headline from December 2, 1943, reads "1,026 Marines Lost in Tarawa Capture; 2,557 Wounded. …

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