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Overy, R.J. 1947–

Overy, R.J. 1947–

(Richard Overy, Richard James Overy)

PERSONAL:

Born December 23, 1947, in London, England; son of James Herbert (a design engineer) and Margaret Grace Overy; married Tessa Coles, 1969 (divorced, 1976); married Jane Giddens, 1979 (divorced, 1992); married Kim Turner, 1992; children: Emma, Rebecca, Jonathan. Education: Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, B.A., 1969, M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1977. Politics: Labour.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Office—Department of History, King's College, University of London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, historian, and educator. Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, research fellow at Churchill College, 1972-73, fellow and lecturer at Queen's College, 1973-79, assistant lecturer in history, 1976-79; University of London, King's College, London, England, lecturer in history, 1980-88, reader in history, 1988-92, professor of modern European history, 1992—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

T.S. Ashton Memorial Prize from Economic History Society, 1983, for article "Hitler, War, and the German Economy"; Cass Prize for Business History, 1987.

WRITINGS:

William Morris, Viscount Nuffield, Europa (London, England), 1976.

The Air War, 1939-1945, Stein and Day (New York, NY), 1980, reprinted, Potomac Books (Washington, DC), 2005.

The Nazi Economic Recovery, 1932-1938, prepared for Economic History Society, Macmillan (London, England), 1982, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Peter Pagnamenta) All Our Working Lives, British Broadcasting Corporation Publications (London, England), 1984.

Goering: The "Iron Man," Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1984, published as Goering, Phoenix Press (London, England), 2000.

The Origins of the Second World War, Longman (New York, NY), 1987, 3rd edition, Pearson Longman (New York, NY), 2008.

The Nazi Economy, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1987.

Nazism, Routledge & Kegan Paul (Boston, MA), 1987.

(With Andrew Wheatcroft) The Road to War, Random House (New York, NY), 1990, 2nd edition, revised and updated, Penguin (New York, NY), 1999.

War and Economy in the Third Reich, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

The Inter-war Crisis, 1919-1939, Longman (New York, NY), 1994.

Why the Allies Won, Norton (New York, NY), 1995, Hebrew edition, translated by Amos Karmel, Devir (Tel-Aviv, Israel), 1999.

The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich, Penguin (New York, NY), 1996.

Bomber Command, 1939-1945, HarperCollins (London, England), 1997.

Russia's War: Blood upon the Snow, TV Books, distributed by Penguin Putnam (New York, NY), 1997, Hebrew edition, translated by Ofer Shor, Devir (Lod, Israel), 2001.

The Battle, Penguin (London, England), 2000, published in the United States as The Battle of Britain: The Myth and the Reality, Norton (New York, NY), 2001.

(Author of introduction) Mark Arnold-Forster, The World at War, new edition, Pimlico (London, England), 2001.

Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.

The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.

The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945, 2nd edition, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2005.

Collins Atlas of Twentieth-Century History, Collins (London, England), 2005.

(Consultant and contributor of essay) World War II Chronicle, foreword by John S.D. Eisenhower, preface by Daniel Inouye, Publications International (Lincolnwood, IL), 2007.

EDITOR

Times Atlas of the Twentieth Century, Times Books (London, England), 1996.

The Hammond Atlas of the 20th Century, Hammond (Maplewood, NJ), 1996, 2nd edition, Times Books (London, England), 1999.

(With Gerhard Otto and Johannes Houwink ten Cate) Die "Neuordnung" Europas: NS-Wirtschaftspolitik in besetzten Gebieten, "National Socialist Occupation Policy in Europe" series, number 3, Metropol (Berlin, Germany), 1997.

The Times History of the World, 5th edition, Times Books (London, England), 1999.

The Times History of the 20th Century, new edition, Times Books (London, England), 1999.

(Editor, with Sheilagh Ogilvie) Germany: A New Social and Economic History, Arnold (London, England), 2003.

Contributor to history journals and Journal of Strategic Studies.

SIDELIGHTS:

A respected historian, author, and professor of modern European history at King's College, University of London, R.J. Overy has written several important and acclaimed books about World War II and the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. Overy specializes in German history from 1900 to 1945, World War II, and the history of air battles. He has also compiled and edited a number of atlases and has edited historical volumes for Times Books. His most widely praised books include The Road to War, War and Economy in the Third Reich, The Battle of Britain: The Myth and the Reality, Why the Allies Won, Russia's War: Blood upon the Snow, and Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945.

Overy collaborated with British historian Andrew Wheatcroft for The Road to War, a companion to a British Broadcasting Corporation television series that critics regard as a valuable work in itself. It traces the development of World War II from the end of World War I in seven nations: Germany, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Lenny Glynn and John Bemrose, in a review for Maclean's, wrote that the book shows "how each pursued its own national interests to the detriment of the international situation." Glynn and Bemrose praised the book for its "strikingly original" treatment of the relationship between Adolf Hitler and the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. Genevieve Stuttaford writing in Publishers Weekly found the book's emphasis to be on "the national prejudices and illusions" that allowed each of the seven countries to be "sucked into the maelstrom" of World War II, including the United States' isolation and ignorance of other nations and peoples.

In his highly acclaimed and widely reviewed book Why the Allies Won, Overy explores the Allied victory in World War II on three levels: government, military, and popular effort and support. In the first half of the book, he defines the areas in which the Allied military forces gained the upper hand—on the Eastern front, on the oceans, in the air, in bombing campaigns, and finally through the invasion of Normandy in 1944. The second half of the book explains how the people of the Allied nations helped this to happen. Mobilization of national economies, the effective use of existing technology, the ability to form a strong alliance, and the belief that they were in the right, says Overy, were deciding factors in the Allied victory. Yet, as Thomas A. Britten of the Historian acknowledged, an Allied victory was by no means certain in the early years of the war. "Overy's goal," he wrote, "is to explain and assess how the Allies' wartime sacrifices, both on the battlefield and on the homefront, changed the fortunes of war between 1942-1944…. The war's outcome depended as much on the successful mobilization of the economic, scientific, and moral resources of the nations involved as it did on the fighting itself."

Clifford R. Krieger of Armed Forces & Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal observed, "Perhaps most important, [Overy] gives the reader an opportunity to see how slender was the thread of Allied victory. The realization that failure was possible helps us understand that each of the elements of the Allied effort was important." Overy discusses weaponry, leadership among the different nations, and the impact of morale on industrial production. Krieger praised Overy's review of military operations but said that the meat of the book remains in the second half, and he asked a question that is a compelling historical query: "Had the war lasted another year, would the Allies have been able to sustain their air superiority over Germany in the face of a jet-powered interceptor force and surface-to-air missiles?" Krieger concluded that Overy "warns us that in war there are no sure winners. That should be a humbling insight and a spur to reflect continuously on our received wisdom and assumptions."

Overy's well-regarded Russia's War reveals new information that came to light some fifty years after the end of World War II. This information demonstrates the crucial and decisive role that Russian soldiers and civilians played in the Allied victory. Written as a companion to IBP Films' television documentary and using previously unavailable Russian archives, the book educates the Western reader about the magnitude of the war on the Eastern Front. It probes the reasons for the Soviets' willingness to make great sacrifices and answers questions about Stalin's ability as a military leader and the Russian preparedness for war.

In The Battle of Britain, originally published as The Battle, Overy considers many of the so-called myths about the great 1940 battle between the Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe over southern England. Instead of recounting the battle itself in detail, however, Overy explores the German and British strategies behind the battle and gets at the truth behind information that some revisionist historians have discounted. Richard Mullen of Contemporary Review praised Overy's book as "a masterful account" that "provides a perfect introduction to a complicated story." He makes a special effort to note that Britain had equipment and organizational advantages in the battle and that the Luftwaffe's "dazzling tactics … which made them so formidable in their victory against the French proved a handicap … [in] a different type of war against the RAF." Gilbert Taylor of Booklist commended The Battle of Britain as an "expert recounting of an epic drama." Edwin B. Burgess, writing a review for Library Journal, remarked that the reader who is unfamiliar with World War II history will need companion sources in reading Overy's book, but he praised the author's "insightful analyses" on the successes of the Battle of Britain.

Interrogations covers a little-known period after World War II, when Allied leaders decided the immediate fate of top Nazi officials who had been captured in May and June of 1945. The book chronicles the lengthy interviews—conducted during the months before the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal began in late November—with such infamous commanders as Goering, von Ribbentrop, Hess, Ley, Speer, and more than two dozen others, as they reflect on Hitler's leadership and recall their own part in Nazi war crimes. The interrogations of these high officials are published for the first time in full in the book, with an introduction and analyses by Overy.

Anne Applebaum, in a review of the book for Spectator, wrote: "It makes for mesmerizing reading. Overy's interests are broad, and his background knowledge extensive, enabling him to explore a number of issues at length: the different interrogation strategies deployed by different internees, their reflections on life at the top of the Nazi power structure, their memories of Hitler, their explanation of the Nazi defeat…. Overy's analysis of who knew what about the Holocaust is particularly fascinating." Jay Freeman of Booklist praised the book, concluding, "This is a riveting but deeply disturbing book, which will make an essential contribution to our understanding of the Nazi era." A contributor to Contemporary Review called it "a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Second World War and of man's capacity for evil and self-delusion."

In The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Overy presents a "systematic and highly detailed comparative analysis of the two most infamous and archetypal dictatorships of the past century," commented Steven Welch in the Age. "This is a book for those who know their German and Soviet history," commented Martin McCauley in a GB-Russia Society Journal Web site review. "Those who complete this massive tome will never regard these men in quite the same light again." Overy considers and compares the characteristics of the two dictators' regimes, in terms of both similarities and differences. He looks at the personal traits that helped each of them rise to the pinnacle of power, analyzes the underlying political and social environment that allowed them to thrive and retain control, and examines the conditions that eventually brought both of them down. He places Hitler and Stalin squarely in the historical context of their times and traces the influence they had on the infamous events of the day. "For anyone who wants to understand how the Holocaust came about and the circumstances building up to it, this book is essential reading," remarked a reviewer in the Socialist Standard. "Overy, who is not indifferent to questions of right and wrong, also brilliantly evokes the altered moral universe that these regimes hoped would characterise their subjects, many of whom were all-too-willing to be reconstructed," observed Michael Burleigh in the London Times.

Several reviewers accorded very high praise to the book and its author. "This excellent volume puts Overy in the very first rank of historians of the twentieth century," commented Richard Gott, writing in New Statesman. The Dictators "will further enhance [Overy's] status as one of the most knowledgeable, perceptive and readable historians dealing with the tumultuous and violent events of the 20th century," remarked Welch. Robert Service, writing in the Manchester Guardian, remarked that "this is a book that needed to be written." McCauley stated, "This is now the standard study of the two dictators. It will be difficult for a writer to better Overy's analysis."

Overy once told CA: "Communicating to a wider public than academic colleagues is of great importance to me. Historians must share their history, not make it into a specialized, inaccessible discipline. I feel this is particularly important for those historians who work on the Third Reich. Confronting the moral dilemmas posed by Nazism is as important today as it was at the time. The present generation of students needs to be reminded of what happened, but also to have it explained as honestly and scrupulously as possible. There is much myth and casual explanation in the history of Nazism, and of the war, which must be constantly challenged."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Age (Melbourne, Australia), June 26, 2004, Steven Welch, review of The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia.

Air Power History, spring, 1997, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 58.

Armed Forces & Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, fall, 1998, Clifford R. Krieger, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 180.

Booklist, May 1, 1990, review of The Road to War, p. 1683; March 15, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, pp. 1237 and 1247; December 15, 1996, review of The Hammond Atlas of the 20th Century, p. 748; March 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Battle of Britain: The Myth and the Reality, p. 1223; September 15, 2001, Jay Freeman, review of Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945, p. 169.

Books (formerly Books and Bookmen), July, 1987, review of Goering: The "Iron Man," p. 29; August, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 21.

Books Magazine, autumn, 1998, review of Russia's War: Blood upon the Snow, p. 22.

British Book News, April, 1987, reviews of Goering and The Air War, 1939-1945, p. 219.

Business History Review, winter, 1994, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 614.

Choice, December, 1990, review of The Road to War, p. 685; September, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 182; February, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 1048.

Contemporary Review, December, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 335; August, 1999, review of The Times History of the World, p. 111; October, 1999, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 219; September, 2000, Richard Mullen, "The Battle of Britain Remembered," p. 182; January, 2002, review of Interrogations, p. 61.

Economist, September 2, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 83.

English Historical Review, September, 1995, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 958.

Foreign Affairs, September, 1994, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 156; May, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 139.

Guardian (Manchester, England), July 24, 2004, Robert Service, "Totalitarian Recall," review of The Dictators.

Guardian Weekly, September 10, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 29; August 5, 1990, review of The Road to War, p. 20.

Historian, autumn, 1995, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 183; winter, 1998, Thomas A. Britten, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 450.

History: Reviews of New Books, summer, 1995, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 178; fall, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 44; summer, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 191.

History Today, April, 1994, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 54; May, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 56; July, 1996, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 52.

Journal of Economic Literature, March, 1995, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 357; March, 1997, review of The Nazi Economic Recovery, 1932-1938, 2nd edition, p. 259.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, spring, 1996, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 709.

Journal of Military History, October, 1995, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 735; October, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 797.

Journal of Modern History, June, 1996, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 502.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 357; February 15, 2001, review of The Battle of Britain, p. 242.

Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, September, 1997, review of The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich, p. 38.

Library Journal, May 1, 1990, review of The Road to War, p. 98; March 15, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 83; March 1, 2001, Edwin B. Burgess, review of The Battle of Britain, p. 114.

Listener, September 7, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 25.

London Review of Books, July 15, 1999, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 18.

Maclean's, November 13, 1989, Lenny Glynn and John Bemrose, review of The Road to War, p. 68.

National Review, September 16, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 70.

New Statesman, July 12, 2004, Richard Gott, "Twin Demons," review of The Dictators.

New Statesman and Society, September 1, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 35; March 29, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 35.

New York Times, August 4, 1995, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 39; April 19, 1996, late edition, review of Why the Allies Won, p. C 27.

New York Times Book Review, June 2, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 20; June 22, 1997, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 32; January 11, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 15; September 27, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 32.

Observer (London, England), June 7, 1987, review of Goering: The "Iron Man," p. 25; August 20, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 38; August 4, 1991, review of The Road to War, p. 51; August 6, 1995, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 19; September 12, 1999, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 14.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, fall, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 1172.

Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of The Road to War, p. 55; February 26, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 93; April 14, 1997, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 72.

Rapport: The Modern Guide to Books, Music & More, May, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 44.

Reference and Research Book News, February, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 15.

Sewanee Review, January, 1992, review of The Road to War, p. 141.

Socialist Standard, October, 2007, "Hitler and Stalin," review of The Dictators.

Spectator, September 26, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 41; November 3, 2001, Anne Applebaum, review of Interrogations, p. 55.

Times (London, England), June 20, 2004, Michael Burleigh, review of The Dictators.

Times Educational Supplement, December 11, 1987, review of The Origins of the Second World War, p. 24; April 21, 1995, review of The Inter-war Crisis, 1919-1939, p. 17; April 30, 1999, review of The Times History of the World, p. 19.

Times Literary Supplement (London, England), September 1, 1989, review of The Road to War, p. 935; June 3, 1994, review of War and Economy in the Third Reich, p. 28; August 18, 1995, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 7; November 1, 1996, review of Times Atlas of the Twentieth Century, p. 7; August 28, 1998, review of Blood upon the Snow, p. 11.

Washington Post Book World, July 1, 1990, review of The Road to War, p. 13.

Wilson Quarterly, spring, 1996, review of Why the Allies Won, p. 75.

ONLINE

GB-Russia Society Journal,http://www.gbrussia.org/ (May 12, 2008), Martin McCauley, review of The Dictators.

King's College London, History Department, http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/history/ (May 12, 2008), biography of Richard Overy.

Penguin Group USA Web site,http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (May 12, 2008).

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