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This fascinating, if somewhat over-detailed, work about World War 2 by journalist Waverly Root was published in 1945 after the end of the war in Europe but before the Japanese surrender. However, some of the chapters were written even before V-E Day and so speak of the war in Europe as still ongoing. The "Secret" of the title refers to the fact that Root's primary themes are not the military conduct of the war (although that is certainly referred to), but the diplomatic, propaganda and economic machinations of the various powers, both public and, as the word suggests, clandestine. Although Root writes about events and power relationships all over the globe, his two main theses are that a) France was betrayed by traitors highly placed within their government and military who were themselves fascists and wanted to see the Republic eliminated and that b) the U.S. State Department made one wrong-headed move after another, particularly when it came to their decision to legitimize the collaborators within the Vichy government and freeze out De Gaulle and his Free French movement as much as possible, despite the fact that Vichy was willingly cooperating with the Axis and De Gaulle was actually fighting alongside the U.S. and England. The book's final 140-page chapter details at great length the ways in which this dynamic played itself out in France's vast colonial territories before, during and after the Allied invasion of North Africa. Root's thesis about why the State Department was so consistently pointed in the wrong direction was that the department was basically a clubhouse of Ivy Leaguers and others of the patrician class who had little comfort with or respect for the average American and, in actual practice, the ideals of Democracy. He believed that these men were more comfortable with their fellow rich kids within the Vichy government and not particularly uncomfortable with the fascist leanings.
The degree to which the Vichy government was complicit in aiding the Axis is examined in a fascinating chapter on the war in Asia in which Root describes how Vichy allowed the Japanese to walk into Indo-China, which they still controlled, at the behest of the Germans, a move that greatly facilitated the Japanese advance throughout the Pacific after Pearl Harbor.
Several chapters describe the rapacious way that the Germans drained the countries they occupied of resources, food and even manpower.
As is obvious from the title, this book is the second volume of what was originally a 2-volume set, but for which Root soon produced a third volume. I completed Volume 1 early in 2019. In those first chapters, Root moved his focus around Europe, showing how relations between between Germany and the various other countries, whether occupied by them, allied with them or neutral. Each of the first two volumes runs to almost 600 pages of small print. The only fault of the writing is that Root often insists in providing every single example he knows of to prove his points, long after those points have already been successfully made.
While not strictly military history, I also finished No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A very detailed look at the lives of the President and First Lady during the war, including the various conferences, though the purpose is not to go over the conferences or what they did or did not accomplish, this is a more personal view of the people involved. Very detailed and really well done. Don't get the trade paperback version, it is really too long to be read easily in that format unless you are going to destroy the book.