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The World in Flames

A World War II Sourcebook

Frans Coetzee and Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee

Publication Date - March 2010

ISBN: 9780195174427

448 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $79.99

Provides an ambitious and wide-ranging survey of the war in a convenient and comprehensive package


An edited volume of primary sources from the Second World War, The World in Flames: A World War II Sourcebook is the first of its kind to provide an ambitious and wide-ranging survey of the war in a convenient and comprehensive package. Conveying the sheer scale and reach of the conflict, the book's twelve chapters include sufficient narrative and analysis to enable students to grasp both the war's broad outlines and the context and significance of each particular source.

Beginning with the growing disenchantment over the World War I peace settlements and the determination of German, Italian, and Japanese leaders to revise the situation, the book traces the descent into open, armed conflict. It covers the spectacular early successes of the Germans and Japanese, the pivotal campaigns of 1942, and the Allied effort during the remaining three years to destroy the Axis' capacity to wage war. Drawing examples from a wide range of documents, the text also includes visual sources: propaganda posters, photos, and cartoons.


  • Global coverage: Discusses the European and Pacific theatres along with developments in North Africa, the Middle East, India, and the American home front
  • Thematic breadth: Encompasses the war's social, cultural, and economic dimensions-alongside the more familiar military and diplomatic coverage-from the perspective of not only statesmen and commanders, but also of ordinary soldiers and civilians
  • Chronological range: Offers coverage beyond the common dates of 1939-1945 by devoting attention to developments in the 1930s and by tracing the repercussions of the war through the controversies over Bitburg and the Enola Gay in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Manageable length: Presents selections that are long enough to give students a clear sense of a particular document, but not so extensive as to be overwhelming

About the Author(s)

Both Frans Coetzee and Marilyn Shevin-Coetzee have taught at Yale and George Washington Universities and earned fellowships from the ACLS, Alexander von Humboldt, Fulbright and Mellon Foundations, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton,and the NEH. They are the authors or editors of five books and numerous articles and maintain a website on world history, www.history4everyone.com.


"This is an imaginative, comprehensive, and urgently needed collection of primary sources relating to all aspects of the Second World War, ably selected by the authors of an equally valuable collection of World War I sources."--Paul Jankowski, Brandeis University

"This is a very well-crafted and comprehensive collection, a worthy successor to the Coetzee's volume on World War I. There is a good distribution of different kinds of documents, and the excerpts are well-chosen and succinct."--Leonard V. Smith, Oberlin College

"Overall, I am really favorably impressed by the depth of the coverage, the breadth of the scope, and the easy-to-use format. The best aspect of the work is its global coverage. . . . These sources can help students understand the war not simply as the European Theater and the Pacific Theater, but as an integrated global conflict the history of which continues to resound today."--Adam Seipp, Texas A&M University

Table of Contents

    1. Seeds of Turmoil
    Mussolini and the Masses
    Abyssinia's Plight
    Spain's Anguish
    Japan's Outlook
    Statement at Lushan
    Rape of Nanking
    Hossbach Memorandum
    France Goes to War
    2. "Only Movement Brings Victory": Blitzkrieg
    Soviet-Finnish War
    Rethinking Armored Warfare
    Rotterdam in Flames
    France's Collapse
    Strange Defeat
    A Certain Eventuality
    De Gaulle's Appeal to France
    French Collaboration
    Occupied Poland
    Air Raid on Southampton
    London is Burning
    3. The Widening War
    A War for Freedom?
    Warning Signs from Japan
    Japan's Decision for War
    Avenging Western Imperialism
    Yamamoto's Strategy
    Attack on Pearl Harbor
    Plan Dog
    Forging Allied Strategy
    Allied Grand Strategy
    Desert War
    Survival in North Africa
    Germany Strikes East
    "The Criminal Orders"
    Saving Moscow
    Combat on the Russian Front
    Hitler's Obstinance
    4. Mobilizing For War
    Arsenal of Democracy
    Mexican-American Discrimination
    Factories on Rails
    Producing for Victory
    Ford's Willow Run
    Germany's Delayed Mobilization
    German Forced Labor
    Chicanas in the Factory
    Navajo Code Talkers
    An Anthropologist Gathers Intelligence
    Photo Intelligence
    The Role of Science
    5. The Tide Turns: June-December 1942
    The Mood in America
    Rommel Reflects on the Desert War
    Breakthrough at El Alamein
    Eisenhower Reflects on Operation Torch
    Stalingrad: The Rat's War
    Admiral Ugaki Reflects on Midway
    The Strain of Jungle Warfare
    Winning the Solomons
    Why Japan Lost Guadalcanal
    6. The European Theater
    Bombing Ploesti
    Flying a B-17
    Area Bombing
    Massacre by Bombing
    U-Boat Peril
    Germany's U-Boat Strategy
    The Fall of Mussolini
    The Polish Resistance
    Greece at War
    Yugoslavia's Partisans
    Siege of Leningrad
    Panzer Warfare in the East
    Soviet Tactical Doctrine
    Battle of Kursk
    Eisenhower and Overlord
    Ernie Pyle's War
    7. The Asian Theater
    Bataan Death March
    "Vinegar Joe" and China
    The British Army in Burma
    Japanese Operations in Burma
    Marxism and Burmese Resistance
    The Indian Situation
    Marines on Peleliu
    Kamikaze Attack
    The Decision to Use the Bomb
    Preparing to Invade Japan
    8. The War At Home in America
    The Rabbis March on Washington
    To Undo a Mistake
    The Internment of German-Americans
    Why Should We March?
    New World a-Coming
    The Zoot Suiters
    Discrimination against Mexican-Americans
    The Stocking Panic
    Prayer at Iwo Jima
    Readjusting to Family Life
    9. The Culture and Psychology of War
    The Nazi New Order
    The Four Freedoms
    The Atlantic Charter
    The GI's Perspective
    Japan and Greater East Asia
    The Anthropology of Japanese Conduct
    Soldiers Under Stress
    Civilians Under Stress
    Religion in the Skies
    Revival of Russian Orthodoxy
    Christian Morality in Wartime
    'Muscular Christianity'
    Gandhi and Non-Violence
    The New Imperatives of Education
    Radio on the Home front
    Film and Propaganda
    War Bonds and Mass Persuasion
    The Welfare State
    10. The Inhumanity of Man: The Holocaust
    Defining Genocide
    Atrocities in Kamenets-Podolsky
    The Youngest Victims
    Wannsee Conference
    A Polish Witness to Massacre
    The Warsaw Ghetto
    Himmler and the Final Solution
    The Holocaust in Greece
    Von Moltke's Thoughts on Resistance
    11. Out of the "Dark and Deadly Valley"
    Nazis to the Bitter End?
    Liberating the Death Camps
    A Mother Ponders the War's End
    The German Problem
    America's Plans for Postwar Germany
    The Nuremberg Trials
    Displaced Jews in Occupied Germany
    Japanese Biological Warfare
    The Tokyo War Trials
    American Policy for Postwar Japan
    Japan Adjusts to Occupation
    Revolution and Liberation in Indo-China
    Ho Chi Minh Appeals to Truman
    Africa Speaks
    "The Long Telegram" and Containment
    The Iron Curtain
    The American Century
    12. Commemorating WWII: Confronting the Past, Writing the Future
    Remembering D-Day and the Boys of Pointe du Hoc
    Germany Commemorates the Fortieth Anniversary of Defeat
    The Soviet Union and the Uses of Victory
    The Holocaust Museum
    Japan and the War's Contested Memory
    Japan's Comfort Women
    Hiroshima, Culture Wars, and the Enola Gay
    World War II Timeline
    World War II Bibliography