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How the War Was Won


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Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The dominance of air and sea production; 2. The air and sea war and the phases of equipment destruction; 3. The air and sea war to November 1940; 4. Grand strategists and the air and sea war; 5. Understanding the air and sea war from December 1940 to March 1942; 6. Grand strategy in action, prioritizing the air and sea war; 7. Winning the shipping war; 8. The war in Europe in 1943: strategic bombing and the land war; 9. The war in Europe in 1944; 10. The air and sea war against Japan, 1942-4; 11. The end of the war; Conclusion: the supremacy of air and sea power and the control of mobility; Bibliography; Index.

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An important new history of air and sea power in World War II and its decisive role in Allied victory.

About the Author

Phillips Payson O'Brien gained a Ph.D. in History after two years working on Wall Street. Since then, he has published a range of works on British and American strategic and political history during the first half of the twentieth century. More recently, he has taken a leading role as a commentator on defence issues and the debate over Scottish Independence. He has testified in front of UK parliamentary committees, and advised major European governments on the course of the campaign. Through this work he has gained media experience, appearing as a regular commentator for the BBC and STV, and publishing opinion pieces in the Scotsman and the Scottish Herald. He has received awards or research fellowships from the Carnegie Foundation, the US Naval History and Heritage Command, and the Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt Presidential libraries. He has also been invited to Japan twice to speak on World War II at the National Institute of Defence Studies (Tokyo).


'It has become the conventional wisdom that the Soviet Union won the Second World War with only minor contributions from the United States and Great Britain. Phillips Payson O'Brien has written a superb rejoinder to such nonsense in a work that represents a major contribution to our understanding of that terrible conflict. It needs to be read by anyone interested in World War II.' Williamson Murray, author of A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War
'This is a book anyone interested in the Second World War will want to read. It refocuses the story of the war away from the battlefield, to the air and the sea, and also to the transit depot, the maintenance facility, the training base. This is an imaginative, cliche-busting work which lays bare exactly when, how and where the Axis lost the war.' David Edgerton, author of Britain's War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War and Warfare State: Britain, 1920-1970
'This extremely serious book attempts to re-evaluate World War II not in terms of great battles ... but in terms of production, mobility, and economics. O'Brien argues that victory or defeat in World War II must be seen during preproduction, production, and deployment ... The work focuses on equipment, mobility, and detente ... Especially for graduate students, professors of military history, and those generally interested in the history of Europe or the Far East. Summing up: essential.' R. Higham, Choice
'A novel, provocative, and well-written study based on extensive documentary sources on both sides of the Atlantic. Its author's conviction that 'the effectiveness of tactical air power over strategic ... was the most important lesson of the war, one that remains true to this day' makes the book worth careful reading. With his emphasis on degrading an enemy's 'mobility' (perhaps a nod to Basil H. Liddell Hart's 'indirect approach'?) Phillips Payson O'Brien offers a way forward for those working on 'AirSea Battle', area access, and area denial problems in modern warfare. His work will engage and instruct historians of World War II as well as current military officers, strategists, and decision-makers.' Christopher Rein, Michigan War Studies Review
'Such a thoroughgoing revision of the history of the war will outrage many historians. ... This is a brave, important and impressively researched book, and all who have written on the Second World War will have to consider O'Brien's cogent arguments.' A. W. Purdue, The Times Higher Education Supplement
'Phillips Payson O'Brien's book is revisionist history at its best: thoughtful, well grounded in secondary and primary sources, and provocative. It is a mature work, the result of several years of research and reflection. ... O'Brien deserves high praise for writing a book that will force scholars to think hard about the nature of World War II and perhaps also about the nature of modern warfare in general.' Talbot C. Imlay, The Journal of Modern History

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