A Chronology of World War II, David Jordan

A Chronology of World War II, David Jordan

A Day-by-Day History of the Biggest Conflict of the 20th Century

This work is split in two in two different ways. First, there is the split between the narrative and the day-by-day chronology. Each two-page spread has narrative and pictures to the left, taking up about three-quarters of the page, and the day-by-day section to the right, taking up the remaining quarter. The second split is between the war against Germany and the war against Japan. The narrative is structured by topic, and so isn't tied to the events in the timeline on the same page. This makes the text more readable and better structured, but takes a bit of getting used to.

I can understand the decision to split the narrative into two - the wars against Japan and Germany rarely directly overlapped, but I do think it was a mistake to also split the timeline. For me one of the most interesting features of a timeline is that it allows us to see how distant events overlapped in time - a good example would be October 1942, which saw the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa, and fighting on Guadalcanal and New Guinea in the east - here those events are split by the two chronologies. A better format would probably have been to start with the two narratives, then give a combined timeline a chapter of its own.

The timeline itself is a good introduction to the war, focusing on major events. Larger day-by-day accounts of the war tend to get hung up on fine details, making them useful for more knowledgeable readers, but less use for the newcomer to the topic. The narrative is generally good (although with the odd minor glitch, such as where Admiral Phillips is said to have warned 'Bomber' Harris not to take his battleships away from air cover - the warning was of course the other way round).

This is a decent introduction history of the Second World War, supported by a useful clear timeline but that would have been more useful with a combined timeline.

Part I: The European Theatre 1939-1945
The Build-up to War
The End of the Phoney War
The Atlantic War
The War in the Desert
Defeat in the East and Italy
From D-Day to VE Day

Part II: The Pacific Theatre 1939-1945
Japanese Expansion
Japan Challenged
The End in the Far East

Author: David Jordan
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 160
Publisher: Amber
Year: 2013

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