`One of the most creative and independent-minded revolutionary Marxists of the post-war world.' Guardian
`Mandel's capacity to synthesize complex global events is marvellous, resulting in a slim, readable monograph which carries far more analytical power than many more ambitious reconstructions. His inspiration lies in classical Marxism, whose most creative exponent he remains.' History Workshop Journal
`Ernest Mandel's stimulating The Meaning of the Second World War is a welcome attempt to formulate a radical synthesis... Advancing provocative theses on an impressive range of topics, from weaponry and logistics to ideology and diplomacy, Mandel... presents [his case] forcefully, with thoughtful and clear arguments.' Radical History Review
The very scale of the 1939--45 war has often tempted historians to study particular campaigns at the expense of the wider panorama. In this readable and richly detailed history of the conflict, Belgian scholar Ernest Mandel, author of such acclaimed works as Late Capitalism and Marxist Economic Theory, argues that the war was the tumultuous convergence of several distinct conflicts.
In part, it was a battle between rival imperialisms for world hegemony. The enormous stakes involved drew in peoples who had escaped the First World War, transforming the global political map in the process. The war was also a struggle for political freedom among colonized nations - China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. And the decisive new element in the war was the titanic clash between opposing social systems: Germany's Nazi capitalism and the hideously distorted workers' state of Stalin's Russia. For the peoples suffering under fascism, the war was one of resistance - turning, in certain countries such as Albania and Yugoslavia, into revolution.
In concise chapters, Mandel examines the role played by technology, science, logistics, weapons and propaganda. Throughout, he weaves considerations of the military strategy of the opposing states into an engaging narrative of the war and its consequences.