Think the German armed forces were the most modern and mechanised in the world? Or that they were the embodiment of Teutonic efficiency?

Or imagine the British were small-time under-dogs relying on their big American brothers to pull them through?

You don’t know the half of it.

For the past seven decades, our understanding of it has relied on conventional wisdom, propaganda and an interpretation skewed by the information available. This is the first of a new three-volume history in which I am challenging too-long-held assumptions about the war that shaped our modern world. Truth by common knowledge

U-boats destroyed a mere 1.4 percent of Allied shipping in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Britain had access to 85% of the world’s merchant shipping and also produced more food per acre than any other country in the world.

The Italian War Ministry was only open from 10am until 3pm, Monday to Friday. As an ally, Italy was a terrible partner to Germany and vice versa, and offered nothing like the support Allies were able to offer one another.

The British Army was the only fully mechanised in the world, while Germany was one of the least motorized in the western world. Only 16 of the 135 divisions used in their attack in the West in 1940 were mechanised. The rest used horses.

The tactical, strategic and operational truth behind the worst war ever to strike Europe and the west has never been fully told.

Until now…

“With this magnificent, hugely readable debut, James Holland’s The War in the West is set fair to become one of the truly great multi-volume histories of the Second World War.”

“In The Rise of Germany, James Holland weds his typically deft writing to years of research and thought about the early years of World War II. He seeks – and finds – that elusive middle ground between the high politics of Hitler, Churchill, and Roosevelt and the personal experience of the soldier in the field.  Holland writes on the operational level as well as any historian working today.  I am already making room on my shelf for volumes two and three. I would read anything Holland writes.”

A hugely engaging, scholarly and ambitious book that strips away the myths surrounding the Second World War and—uniquely—tells the human stories, not just the political and military history. A must-read for anyone with an interest in this turbulent and transformative period.”

“This brilliant, lucid and intimate history is a game-changer, the Second World War will never seem the same again.”

“Holland’s achievement here is presenting multiple perspectives based on extensive research in such a page-turner. This is as much a gripping drama played out on a huge stage with distinctive characters and rapidly unfolding action as it is a book on one of the most significant periods in all of world history.”

“The first of three volumes promising a revisionist approach to World War II. . . . Let the debates begin.”

“In this first of a three-volume history of WWII in Western Europe and the Mediterranean, British historian Holland (The Dam Busters) discusses the major battles, events, and factors important to the first two years of conflict in Western Europe. Relying on archival research, extensive secondary sources, and personal memoirs, Holland nimbly weaves the complex military, diplomatic, political, economic, and social patterns that marked the conflict on a global scale….Impressively for so weighty a subject, Holland keeps the reader engaged by showing the major events through the eyes of the participants—at the strategic level with politicians and generals, and at the tactical level with common soldiers and civilians… Holland has produced a worthy history that both general readers and WWII enthusiasts can enjoy.”