The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food
by Lizzie Collingham
I recently finished The Taste of War by Lizzie Collingham. The subject is the role that food played in causing World War II and how the war was conducted. Germany wanted food security and sought to establish an agrarian empire in Russia. The Nazis planned on starving millions in the process. Japan sought a similar empire in China, and millions of Chinese perished because of the disruptions to agriculture brought on by the Japanese invasion.
Britain could get food from its colonies, but German submarines made this a very tenuous way to feed an island nation. The Russians had the dual misfortune of seeing their food plundered by the Germans and then being underfed by Stalin. America came out pretty well. It alone grew more food during the war than it had before it, and Americans were subject to few of the food restrictions that the peoples of other combatant nations endured.
If you prefer your military history suffused with the acrid smell of gunsmoke, this is not that kind of book. There is only a handful of examples of actual warfare in it. Instead, this is a magisterial, big picture work of history that will change – or at least greatly enhance – your understanding of the Second World War.
The Taste of War is available from Amazon here.