James, my friends make all of these pronouncements about WWII, that the Nazis almost conquered the world, that we don't know how close that war was, blah, blah. I do not have time to read 1,000 books on this subject which seems never ending. You seem to have a good grasp of history. Could you encapsulate WWII in, lets say, under 200 words?"
That's tough, Nathan. Those three words, this, and the following passage do not count.
I have only read 58 books [Yes, it took me longer to count them than to write this article] on WWII, including the Marshal Cavendish WWII Encyclopedia in 25 volumes. I have, however, read A Genius For War six times, and have spent over 1,000 hours playing and play-testing tactical, operational and strategic war games on WWII. My opponents regard me as a formidable Russian, cunning German and boring American player. I'll give it a go...
“France, 1944: a U.S. Army lieutenant asked a German POW, “If you’re the master race, how come you’re behind that fence?”
The German answered that he had commanded an .88 [antiaircraft gun used for killing tanks] and was assigned to stop American progress on a road. He knocked out a large number of tanks. More tanks came, but he was out of ammo.
This conversation was the inspiration of the lieutenant’s book, A Genius for War, born in this conversation, which holds the entire answer to your question:
1. The Germans did not have the material resources to win WWII and every top general knew it, just as the architect of Pearl Harbor knew that his nation would be defeated.
2. The second clue is that the German was speaking English, the global language even then. WWII was a forlorn hope for two aggressive ethno-states striking out in a ghastly spasm of national suicide, rather than willingly submit to the global capitalism of Britain and America.
The Italians could not beat the Ethiopians without help, Germany had no surface fleet, and neither Germany or Japan had intrinsic oil reserves. An accountant could have picked the winner.