Chester Wilmot Essay

Though this student looked in Who’s Who and Contemporary Authors,
no information on Chester Wilmot could be found. One considered
searching the Directory of American Scholars, but that would not
be helpful since he is from Australia.

In The Struggle for Europe, Wilmot seeks to explain several
points. First, he explores and explains how the western allies
succeeded militarily but failed politically during World War II.

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He then elaborates on how and why the western allies crushed the
Nazi regime; yet, they allowed the Soviet Union to overtake
Eastern Europe and block the Atlantic Charter from taking effect
in those nations. Third, the author discusses Hitler’s defeat
and Stalin’s victory. Fourthly, he endeavors on a mission to
explain how the Soviet Union replaced Germany as the dominant
European power.

Beginning with the Battle of Britain, the book takes the reader
through the war up to the surrender of Germany. In this process
Wilmot touches on Hitler’s alliance with Mussolini, Hitler’s
conquest of France, the Lowlands, and the Balkans, and the Nazi
dictator’s collapse in the expansion of the Soviet Union. The
author strategically builds the Allied alliance, through the
book’s course, and he uses the Normandy invasion to illustrate
its full effectiveness. Also included are discussions on the
concessions granted to Stalin by the Allies in general, and
Franklin D. Roosevelt in particular. President Roosevelt
believed that Stalin wanted security for his country with no
territorial acquisitions in mind. In order to give the Soviet
leader his second front in Europe, FDR also put the Japanese
problem in the Pacific aside.

By providing the reader with first-hand quotes and writings from
the Nazi war machine’s hierarchy, Wilmot looks at the external
and internal workings of the German Wehrmacht in meticulous
detail. The U-boat campaign, the inadequacies of the Luftwaffe,
and the shortcomings of the Panzer divisions are discussed. The
war, from April 1940 to May 1945, is expertly covered. He
details various meetings of Allied and Axis partners, various
battles, and various strategies. In this study, the author used
very readable and easily accessible language. Events are
described in good detail and his ideas are well related. The
emphasis of The Struggle for Europe seems to be on two major
topics that are stated in the preface. The first topic deals
exclusively with the defeat of Germany. The second topic deals
with the alliance between the United States and Great Britain.

By covering the defeat of the German armed forces on the western,
eastern, and Mediterranean fronts, he gives reasons for their
every failure. Throughout the book, statistics are given
representing German war production in terms of tanks, planes,
guns, vehicles, soldiers, and ships.

The second topic is probed in almost as much detail as the
first. Wilmot describes the western alliance from very near the
book’s beginning. He details Churchill and Roosevelt’s close
friendship and partnership during the war. He skillfully deals
with the United States being the number two man in the alliance’s
beginning and how the U.S. slowly emerges as the premier partner
toward the end of the hostilities. The reason these two topics
come to the forefront is due to the fact that the struggle in the
west engrossed the defeat of Germany by the western alliance
along with the Soviet Union. The Struggle for Europe is very
well organized. The book’s organization develops along
chronological lines beginning with the Battle of Britain. The
author proceeds through the work hitting on all the key quotes,
speeches, conferences, battles, and decisions that occurred
during the war. Each chapter is organized along the same line as
the course of events happened during the war. Background
information is insightfully given before and during most events
described, so that even one with very little WWII knowledge can
understand the event being discussed. The extra background also
helps expand the knowledge of the most avid WWII followers.

The Struggle for Europe deals fairly with both the Allied and
Axis situations and decisions. Wilmot gives equal discussion
time to both sides in regards to strategy, view point, and
military standing. The book’s overall organization exemplifies
itself in terms of its thoroughness and readability.He
touches on almost every aspect of the European theater in 717
pages using many sources gathered from various locations. The
sources used include diaries, primary and secondary books,
speeches, German and Russian archive material, U.S. Government
records, and interviews. His sources were far more than
adequate. The author definitely proves all of his points to some
degree with some ideas being more justified than others. He
proves that the western allies did win the war militarily while
losing Eastern Europe to the Soviets, politically. Wilmot also
shows how the Soviets skillfully maneuvered into the top position
on the European continent after the fall of the Nazis. With
tremendous skill, he also describes the demise of the German
armed forces from its height of power in 1941 to its destruction
in April 1945. His points are satisfactorily proven with only
two flaws.

In this reviewer’s opinion, the first flaw pertains to the book’s
length of discussion. Unless one is deeply interested in
detailed facts and events of the European theater, The Struggle
for Europe might be excessive. In this regard then, the book
fails for someone seeking a brief overview of the European
theater. This is so because it contains so very much. However,
for those knowledge of WWII in great depth, this book is ideal.

For example, this student could really use the book. The second
flaw pertains to the beginning of the book. The author totally
disregards the Poland campaign and he only briefly mentions the
fall of France. With only a few comments about Poland, he jumps
almost right into the Battle of Britain with just slight comment
about France. The struggle in Poland is essential to any
discussion of the European theater.

Outside of those two flaws, with the length of the book not being
a problem, The Struggle for Europe magnificently covers the war.

Wilmot succeeds in delivering a thorough history of the war in
Europe by all accounts. In conclusion, the book provides a very
fine and accurate description of the intricacies of WWII in
Europe. For anyone seeking in-depth knowledge on the European
theater, this book is almost a must. The book is further useful
because not only does it serve a history of WWII, but as a
history of warfare in general. He gives great insight to
political alliances and agreements. For this student, the book
stands as one of the most informative books written on WWII in


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