History of the Second World War

Home > History > History of the Second World War
Purnell's unsurpassed History of WW2. First released in the 1960s. A new edition was released in 1970 when the format changed slightly and some identifying features were altered, including the titles and page numbers. 

The Editor in Chief of both of these works, Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, wanted the publication to be academically credible and assembled many academics, historians and serving military writers in an international venture in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum.  He wanted to make the history accessible and interesting to a wider public and achieved this by illustrating the work lavishly with coloured line drawings and maps. 

The quality of the work has never been equalled by any partwork either before or since.  It continues to be a major reference source at the RMA Sandhurst, and in the Reference Sections of some of the more well-stocked public libraries.

With the History of the Second World War, Purnell issued it twice, first in 1966 and again in 1970, so there are first and second editions. 

When Purnell began publishing the series of WW2 back in 1966, they envisaged a complete work in 6 volumes.  Just before the end of the series, they announced they would be extending it to 8 Volumes in order to cover the consequences of the war, such as the Nuclear era, the foundations of the UN, and events which shaped the post-war world.  

They remained true to their readers by offering an index at the back of volume six so those who wanted to complete their collection with the ending of the war could do so with a complete partwork.  When they published the 8 volume collection with the supplementary issues, Purnell published a cumulative index at the back of volume 8, so those people too could leave the series with a complete collection.  When at the end of the run, they again re-released the series, they did so in 8 volumes.