Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker

Human Smoke is an in depth World War 2 history book made from a huge collection of quotes, news articles, diaries, and various other obscure sources from the time, the kind of sources you wont really find anywhere else. It arranges these sources chronologically so you get to see the events of the war unfold in sequence giving you a sense and understanding of why and how they happened, and how they led to what came next. These events are often extremely weird in ways that you werent taught in school, in fact, the whole war is extremely bizarre every step of the way. This book's perspective is certainly unique compared to most sources that dont present this level of weirdness.

The book's main purpose is to challenge the convention that the allies were a peaceful group forced into war by hitler's aggression. It showcases all the instances of allied aggresssion, refusal by the allies to provide food or medical support to poles, jews, the french, etc. These events indicate that the allies didnt care about saving people from hitler they just wanted to fight hitler for geopolitical and ideological reasons. I particularly found it disturbing when the US used sneaky economic sanctions, naval aggression, and other geopolitical strategies to put the US in the way of japan's conquering of southeast asia. Forcing the attack on pearl harbor and allowing the US to sort of legally enter the war when japan would not have had enough reason to care about the US previously. The speeches from figures like churchill and roosevelt showcase some masterful propaganda skills, its extremely impressive. The book provides a unique insight into the political processes of the time, which explains a lot of how important decisions were made.

The ultimate conclusion of the book is that the pacifists of the time (such as gandhi) were in some sense right about the needlessness of the war. When you acknowledge that much of the war was needless in a rational sense, you become open to seeing the war as democracy's final assertion of global dominance, so in that sense it was a war of ideology. Overall it is a pretty eye opening and interesting book, I would recommend to anyone interested in WW2. However, it is clearly biased towards its main thesis. As correct as it sometimes is, the book does leave out some relevant information and also ends before the end of the war. WW2 was probably the most subtly and blatantly ideological war in modern history, so most sources on it will tend to be biased. Your only real option then is to study all the different angles of bias, I would suggest doing other research into WW2 history alongside this book if you want a full and complete perspective.