A colleague asked me recently to suggest a few “complete” histories on the Second World War. Here are a few which I’ve read that I think are very good.
One of the earlier classics is History of the Second World War by B.H. Liddell Hart, published in 1971. (Here is its citation: Liddell Hart, Basil Henry. History of the Second World War. New York: Putnam, 1971.) This is one of the texts used at Harvard University Extension School’s course (for undergrad and graduate credit) course on World War II.
A World at Arms is an excellent, comprehensive history on the subject. Professor Gerhard Weinberg’s scholarly work is used as text by many of the top universities teaching the subject. Brew a pot of Starbucks for this great book—at 1,208 pages, it is long, but worth the time. (Here is its citation: Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1994.)
A War to be Won is another personal favorite. This book is well-written by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett; their offering benefits from newer research not available to Liddell Hart for his 1971 contribution. It has a great flow which makes it an enjoyable read. (Here is its citation: Murray, Williamson, and Allan Reed Millett. A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000.)
I’m currently making my way through Martin Gilbert’s The Second World War: A Complete History, from 1989. This is an excellent read, but falls more under the genre of academic history, with much scholarly research and content beyond “bullets and bombs.” (Here is its citation: Gilbert, Martin. The Second World War: A Complete History. New York: H. Holt, 1989.)
The above list is by no means all-inclusive. There have been hundreds of complete histories of the Second World War in recent years.