Was the Second World War a "Good War"?
"Did waging it help anyone who needed help?" asked Nicholson Baker when he set out to write Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization, which leads the reader to the same conclusion as Patrick J. Buchanan's Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, albeit by an entirely different road.
A reviewer called Mr. Baker's book "at once very easy to read and very hard to digest." Rather than relying on polemical arguments, the book consists of brief narratives taken from newspapers, diaries, and speeches, which convincingly show that the war could well have been avoided and tens of millions of lives spared. I do not share Mr. Baker's principled pacifism, believing as I do in self-defense and even defensive war as a last resort, but the many pacifists we meet, like the Vera Brittain, are the true heroes of the conflict. As Mr. Baker says, "They failed, but the were right."