Published on
December 24, 2019
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Jack Holroyd
Other Publication Information
9.5 X 6.5 inches, 272 pages, 750 color & black and white illustrations
Company: Pen & Sword - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site

This series by Pen & Sword features photographs from each year of the Second World War. This first volume includes photographs and illustrations of the first year, 1939 to 1940, and covers the contributing factors that led to the outbreak of hostilities. The book includes 750 images and photographs in a picture strip or collage style. It’s a quick, convenient, visual history of the first year of World War II. The text is in sidebars or captions for the photos and is easy to read. The text and photos are in chronological order as events unfolded

The book is packed with photos on each page like a collage, and includes captions describing the events and people in the photographs. Maps and illustrations of military movements, reproductions of posters, newspapers, and other historical documents are also included. The images are mostly black and white, but there is a 32-page section of color photos and images in the center of the book.

Description of the chapters and main topics illustrated by the photos and text:

  • Foreword by Nigel Cave
    • Cave describes the international political and economic conditions leading to the start of WW2.
  • Bibliography
  • Prologue: Ascent of the Bullies
    • Profiles of the Axis leaders Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and Hirohito leading up to the Second World War.
  • Chapter One: Appeasing the Bullies
    • The Munich Agreement was an unsuccessful attempt to appease the Axis leaders and prevent the start of war.
  • Chapter Two: Hitler targets Poland - Great War Two Begins
    • The invasion of Poland and the secret agreement between Germany and Russia.
  • Violent Interlude
    • England and France declare war on Germany.
  • Chapter Three: Hitler Targets Norway
    • The invasion, naval battles, and air battles of Germany’s invasion of Norway.
  • Chapter 4: Hitler targets Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France
    • Hitler’s Fall Gelb and Fall Rot invasion plans for the low countries and France, leading to the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and French army from Dunkirk. Includes many diagrams of battles and troop movements and covers the evacuation of Dunkirk in detail. The longest chapter of the book at 170 pages.
  • The Second World War Illustrated in Color, by Jon Wilkinson
    • Thirty-two pages of color photos and illustrations from the first year of the war.
  • Chapter Five: Hitler targets Britain
    • The London Blitz and air war over England.
  • Chapter Six: Mussolini targets Egypt
    • The Axis forces invade North Africa to sever British convoy routes in the Mediterranean and seize the Suez Canal.


This is an awesome collection of photographs and other images that give a very descriptive visual overview of the events leading up to and during the first year of World War II. The photographs are clear, many maps provide reference, and other images provide a graphic visualization of the war. The book would be an informative read for those interested in World War Two, and provides a wealth of images to inspire model builders.

Thanks to Pen & Sword for another excellent book and to Casemate Publishers for furnishing the review sample to IPMS.


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