Too often, histories of World War II degenerate into numbing litanies of horrific statistics. Inferno is a different kind of history: it focuses on the individual experiences of the tens of millions who lived through the catastrophe. Culled from diaries, letters, interviews, memoirs, legal testimony and notes found in the pockets of dead soldiers, Inferno tries to answer the urgent question of what it was actually like to be caught up in the chaos, to have your world and your family torn apart and your life taken away from you. Hastings is evenhanded: we hear from both Axis and Allies, and he covers D-Day and the Battle for Britain but also lesser-known theaters like the battles for Greece and for Burma as well as the ordeal of arctic convoys running materièl from England to the northern coast of Russia. War is numbing even to its participants, but if you're a veteran of too many meaningless statistics, Inferno is the book that will un-numb you.