Max Hastings, winner of the 2012 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement, has written a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences. Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 is a magnificent, single-volume account of World War II that is remarkably informed, strikingly detailed, and elegantly written.
The Washington Post called Inferno, “The best one-volume history of the war yet written,” and declared, “It is in all ways a monumental achievement…. A relatively brief review can only begin to indicate the depth, breadth, complexity and pervasive humanity of this extraordinary book. The literature of World War II is, as Hastings notes at the beginning of his bibliography, so vast as almost to defy enumeration or comprehension, but Inferno immediately moves to the head of the list.”
Said The New York Times Book Review: “Inferno is a new, original, necessary history, in many ways the crowning of a life’s work. A professional war correspondent who has personally witnessed armed conflict in Vietnam, the Falkland Islands and other danger zones, Hastings has a sober, unromantic and realistic view of battle that puts him into a different category from the armchair generals whose gung-ho, schoolboy attitude to war fills the pages of a great majority of military histories. He writes with grace, fluency and authority…. Inferno is superb.”
And the San Francisco Chronicle agreed: “If there is a contemporary British historian who is the chronicler of World War II, it would be Max Hastings…. [Inferno] is a true distillation of everything this historian has learned from a lifetime of scholarship—and more important, of real thought—on what he calls ‘the greatest and most terrible event in human history.’”
Hastings will be awarded the Pritzker Prize at a gala on October 27, 2012. The award honors Hastings’ body of work, which also includes Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945; Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45; Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945; Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy; and Warriors: Portraits from the Battlefield.