Max Hastings is the author of many books on military history, including Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War and Inferno: The World at War, 1939–45. His new book, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945–75, will be published next year.

 (October 2017)


Splendid Isolation


a film directed by Christopher Nolan

Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory

by Michael Korda
Christopher Nolan’s epic movie about the rescue of the British army from the beaches of northeastern France in May 1940 has become a worldwide box office success. This is splendid news for its makers, and can do no harm to American, Taiwanese, or for that matter Rajput audiences. In the eyes of some of us, however, its impact upon the British people is calamitous at this moment in our fortunes. Dunkirk contains no foreigners except a few understandably grumpy French soldiers. It is a British tale that feeds the myth that has brought Churchill’s nation to the cliff edge of departure from the European Union: there is splendor in being alone.

What’s New About the War?

Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at a meeting of the Pacific War Council, Washington, D.C., June 1942

When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940

by Robin Prior

Eisenhower’s Armies: The American–British Alliance During World War II

by Niall Barr
It is a publishing phenomenon, for which some of us who are authors have cause to be grateful, that seventy years after the conclusion of World War II, works about the conflict enjoy a popularity second only to cookbooks. This is unsurprising, because it was the greatest event in human …

How the Germans Closed Ranks Around Hitler

German civilians on an enforced visit to Buchenwald concentration camp, April 1945; photograph by Lee Miller from the exhibition ‘Lee Miller: A Woman’s War,’ on view at the Imperial War Museum, London, October 15, 2015–April 24, 2016. The catalog—by Hilary Roberts, with an introduction by Antony Penrose—will be published in the US by Thames and Hudson in December.

The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945: Citizens and Soldiers

by Nicholas Stargardt

Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe

by Michael Neiberg
In 1943, Germans who enjoyed a joke envisaged two panzer-grenadiers sitting on a bridgehead in Russia in 1999, puzzling over an incomprehensible word they have come across in a book: PEACE. No one in their bunker understands it. The platoon sergeant shrugs his shoulders. Their lieutenant shakes his head, and …

The Most Terrible of Hitler’s Creatures

Heinrich Himmler (second from right) with Reinhard Heydrich (third from right) and Benito Mussolini (second from left) at a meeting of the police chiefs of Germany, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Portugal, circa 1938

Heinrich Himmler

by Peter Longerich, translated from the German by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe

Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich

by Robert Gerw
In July 1945, the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote in his journal: Now that the German war is over, and the surviving grandees of Nazi Germany are captured and talking, what poor, inflated vulgarians, what weak pretenders they all turn out to have been, how absurd and byzantine that fantastic court …

War by Fops and Fools

Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler: Calling the Roll after an Engagement, Crimea, 1874

The Crimean War: A History

by Orlando Figes

The Crimean War in the British Imagination

by Stefanie Markovits
Considering the depth of mutual suspicion and animosity between Britain and Russia after they were allies in defeating Napoleon in 1815, it is astonishing that the lion and the bear have fought each other only twice. At Winston Churchill’s behest, British forces took desultory action supporting the Whites in the …

The Most Influential Weapon of Our Time

József Tibor Fejes, a young Hungarian identified by C. J. Chivers in The Gun as ‘the first known insurgent to carry an AK-47.’ According to Chivers, ‘Fejes obtained his prize after Soviet soldiers dropped their rifles during their attack on revolutionaries in Budapest in 1956.... The Hungarian Revolution marked the AK-47’s true battlefield debut.’

The Gun

by C. J. Chivers
The director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, last year captivated BBC radio audiences by delivering one hundred broadcasts about one hundred artifacts that have changed the world. A range of people were invited to nominate one that MacGregor had missed. I incurred some allegations of philistinism by suggesting the …

The Turkish-German Jihad

Kaiser Wilhelm II and Enver Pasha on board the battle cruiser Goeben, Constantinople, October 1917

The Berlin–Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power

by Sean McMeekin
In 1916, John Buchan published his best-selling thriller Greenmantle, which imagined a German plot to rouse the eastern legions of Islam against the embattled British Empire and its hundred million Muslim subjects. The book lightened the captive hours of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia before his 1918 murder by the …

The Hard Truth About the Foreign Legion

Gary Cooper as a legionnaire in Beau Geste, 1939

Our Friends Beneath the Sands: The Foreign Legion in France's Colonial Conquests, 1870–1935

by Martin Windrow

Voices of the Foreign Legion: The History of the World's Most Famous Fighting Corps

by Adrian D. Gilbert
The world contains more misfits, sadists, masochists, and people who enjoy fighting than we sometimes like to suppose. How else can one explain the fact that the French Foreign Legion is heavily overrecruited? In an age when most of the world’s armies strive to make military service a less bestial and more enlightened experience than it used to be, the Legion still drives its trainees to scrub floors manically, fold kit and uniforms with obsessive precision, and march, march, march.