Atlas of World War II: History's Greatest Conflict Revealed Through Rare Wartime Maps and New Cartography

National Geographic. 2018. 256p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781426219719. $45. HIST
Featuring 114 period maps and 100 new ones, this stunning atlas illustrates the military campaigns and political boundaries of World War II. Also included are contextualizing essays, photo reproductions of weapons and soldiers, and pictures of artifacts of the era such as spy gear and tattered wartime flags. Coverage is comprehensive, including major battles (Stalingrad and Midway, where the tide turned against Germany and Japan) and obscure theaters (Burma). Kagan (editor, Great Photography of World War II) and frequent National Geographic contributor Hyslop (Atlas of the Civil War) arrange the chapters chronologically by theater and belligerent. Emphasis is on war and politics, with few maps illustrating economies, populations, or other aspects. Despite the atlas's coffee-table dimensions, several of the full-page period maps are faded, densely detailed, and handwritten, which makes deciphering them tricky without a magnifying glass. One disturbing entry is a Nazi sketch showing the Baltic States and Belorussia, each marked with a coffin and the number of Jewish people murdered as of 1942. Shockingly, this map is labeled Estonia "Judenfrei"—the Nazis believed they had exterminated every Jew in Estonia.
VERDICT Thoughtfully curated and beautifully designed, this volume is sure to appeal to military history aficionados and anyone with an unadorned coffee table.

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