There is almost no action that, under review, better alternatives could not have been chosen. That having been said the practice of GOTCHA! history is not something that we find particularly useful. It is one thing to draft a lessons learned plan for teaching and quite another to write a they were no good and the fact that they lost proves it polemic is neither instructive nor useful. Unfortunately it is a staple genre of British historians who will exhaust their criticism of their enemies and detail the failure of their allies and never concede what a bunch of bunglers they have been from Hastings to the Falklands – and well beyond. Other than the index there is nothing useful in either of these books.
The third book by this author reviewed here mercifully makes no pretense at being anything other than fantasy and this may be his metier. The problem of course is that when you have someone drifting back and forth between fiction and nonfiction the former loses its art and the latter loses its authority. We prefer to watch the PGA tournaments as they are played rather than watch someone simulate one on a video game and we certainly would not back a vidiot to enter the ranks at Augusta and that is analogous to the way we feel about Downing!
Sealing their fate: the twenty-two days that decided World War II Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2009 David Downing World War, 1939-1945 Hardcover. 1st Da Capo Press ed. and printing. xv, 368 p.,  p. of plates: ill., maps; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. -351) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
As the Japanese fleet prepared to sail from Japan to Pearl Harbor, the German army was launching its final desperate assault on Moscow, while the British were planning a decisive blow against Rommel in North Africa. The British conquered the desert, the Germans succumbed to Moscow’s winter, and the Japanese awakened the sleeping giant of American might. In just three weeks, from November 17 to December 8, the course of World War II was decided and the fate of Germany and Japan was sealed. With a vigor born more out of prejudice rather than the historical record, David Downing tells the story of these crucial days, shifting the narrative from snowbound Russian villages to the stormy northern Pacific, from the North African desert to Europe’s warring capitals, and from Tokyo to Washington.
The devil’s virtuosos: German generals at war, 1940 – 1945 New York, Dorset, 1993 David Downing World War, 1939-1945 Generals Germany Hardcover. 256 p.,  leaves of plates: ill.; 22 cm. Bibliography: p. -251. Includes Index. Tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. G/G
In this study of the Second World War, the author has examined the decisive European campaigns from the point of view of German generals who exercised the greatest influence on their planning and direction and battle field outcome. In doing so he has created a unique picture of the generals in action – a select group of highly skilled and disciplined men who led their armies across the length and breadth of Europe, carving an empire which surpassed that of Napoleon — and who finally led their men back to the ruins of Germany.
First and foremost among the generals mentioned here are three men: Guderian, a man who dared to shout back at Hitler, who forged the panzer force and led it, through Poland, through France and to the gates of Moscow; Manstein, the master strategist, who planned the French campaign and declined to join the anti-Hitler conspiracy; and Rommel, the bold panzer commander who won laurels in France and fame in Africa, yet ended his career tragically trying to defeat the allies in Normandy and Hitler in Berlin. These generals and others who figure prominently in this book such as von Kluge, Model, von Rundstedt and von Bock, are seen fighting several battles at once: the battle against the slow, but relentless, Soviet tide; the battle against the overwhelming weight of American resources in the West; the battle against their own Führer, who thought he knew best how to direct the war and was more than willing to cast aside 300 years of military tradition in favor of his own growing megalomania which left the generals bereft of equipment, leadership, or a clear cause for which to fight.
The book argues that ultimately the generals’ strengths became their weaknesses. The early military victories which made them military heroes became the political victories of the leadership which doomed them to stumble through a political morass which they were not equipped to understand. Each one tried in his own way to salvage something from the wreck, but in Germany’s defeat their failure was as total as the extent of their earlier victories.
The Moscow option: an alternative Second World War London: Greenhill Books; Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2001 David Downing World War, 1939-1945 Miscellanea Hardcover. 223 p.: maps; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 218-223). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
This provocative alternate history looks at World War II from a new angle – what might have happened had the Germans taken Moscow in 1941. Based on authentic history and real possibilities, this book plays out the dramatic consequences of opportunities taken and examines the grotesque possibilities of a Third Reich triumphant.
On September 30th, 1941, the Germans fight their way into the ruins of Moscow, and the Soviet Union collapses. Although Russian resistance continues, German ambition multiplies after this signal victory and offensives are launched in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Hitler’s armies, assured of success, make their leader’s dreams reality, and Allied hopes of victory seem to be hopelessly doomed. David Downing’s writing is fluid and eminently believable, as he blends actual events with the intriguing possibilities of alternate history. The Moscow Option is a chilling reminder that the course of World War II might easily have run very differently.