You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe


book review

‘Engineers of Victory’ by Paul Kennedy

The esteemed Yale historian Paul Kennedy thinks there is something missing from what we talk about when we talk about how the Allies won World War II. Much has been written about the generals, the grunts, and the leaders — FDR, Stalin, Churchill — who formulated the strategies to defeat the Axis powers. But victory, however much it may seem so in retrospect, was hardly assured or inevitable.

For Kennedy, best known for his 1987 book, “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,’’ and his theories about imperial overstretch, it is not good enough to say that the combined industrial and military might of the United States, the British Empire, and the Soviet Union delivered a knockout blow to Germany and Japan. Kennedy frowns on single causes or turning points — like Stalingrad — to explain the defeat of Germany. He pooh-poohs any attempt to chalk up victory to a particular weapon or service or commander, whether the Royal Air Force or the US Marine Corps or Patton.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week