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Topic: Great books on World War II

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Date Posted: 4/27/2015 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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Well, I added a book on codes just yesterday, and here I am adding another one today.

Visions From a Foxhole: A Rifleman in Patton's Ghost Corps by William Foley, is a memoir written by an infantryman who joined the 94th Infantry Division on January 25, 1945. Foley was fresh from the United States and had no idea what he had gotten in to. During his first week, his battalion suffered 60% casualties and he saw almost constant combat from then until the end of the war.

Foley tells it like it was. After all, in how many memoirs do you read the author relate he killed POWs in cold blood?

The link above is to a review of the book.

Foley was a budding artist during the war and was encouraged by his company commander. Some of his artwork from the war can be seen on a Web site offering his work for sale.  These scenes were often drawn by Foley in his fox hole on the front line.



Last Edited on: 4/15/18 3:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 5/6/2015 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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Well, how lucky can I get. I've read three great WW II books in a row.

This one is "PT 105" and it describes how a young lawyer went into the Navy expecting to spend the war in Naval Intelligence, but then volunteers for PT boat training to escape the boredom of torpedo school.  Bad move! The young man, the author, ends up in the Solomon Islands undergoing more hair-raising experiences than he had bargained for. I gave it 5 stars and recommended it to all. The above is a link to the book's page and my review.

Date Posted: 5/31/2015 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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If you are not interested in becoming an expert on World War II, but would appreciate a fine book covering some of the important actions, then I suggest The Ninety Days: Five Battles That Changed the World.  This links to the book and my review.

I was somewhat hesitant about starting a single book covering five important battles, which individually have scores of entire books written about them, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really appreciated the numerous maps, covering each campaign, which the author included.
 



Last Edited on: 5/31/15 10:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/28/2015 9:31 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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If you have read enough about  World War II, then you know about the German spies landed by submarines, whose mission was to destroy American war plants and critical infrastructure. Fortunately, two of them turned themselves in to the FBI and the others were caught and executed.

But did you know about the numerous other plans to bring the war to American cities, plans using German and Italian military forces? No way, you say? Well, just for instance, did you know that in the late 1930s, a German four-engine plane flew non-stop from Berlin to New York in 25 hours and returned in just 19 hours? Before the war German developed 'airliners' that could easily be converted to war use.  Luftwaffe raids on American east coast cities were possible. Why weren't they staged? The answer to that and numerous other plans developed by the Germans and Italians are explained in Target America: Hitler's Plan to Attack the United States.  The link is also to my review.



Last Edited on: 6/29/15 10:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/18/2016 8:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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Well, it's been almost a year since I posted a recommendation of a WW II book.  So I'd like to add A Mighty Fortress: Lead Bomber Over Europe by Charles Alling. The author flew B-17s during the latter stages of the war in Europe. The link is to the book's page here and my review.

We're all familiar with the quotations by other authors or reviewers from the media found on a book's cover. But there must be something special about a book which merits a review by a former President of the United States.



Last Edited on: 5/18/16 9:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 8
Date Posted: 6/4/2016 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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Well, here is another.... The Jungle War by Gerald Astor.  Written in the same style as Stephan Ambrose's books, it even has a dust cover quote from Ambrose praising one of the author's earlier books. This book covers the China-Burma-India theater of war from all aspects, even the Japanese.  The link is to the book's page and my review.

Date Posted: 10/29/2016 6:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 928
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Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II by Molly Merryman is a pretty interesting read as well!



Last Edited on: 10/29/16 6:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/9/2016 9:33 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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Evelyn Waugh, a celebrated British author, wrote several fictional and semi-fictional works based on his WW II experience in the military. These books lampooned the British attitute toward war. I found them very enjoyable.

However, if you want to read about true events that mirror the "British style" of war Waugh poked fun of in his fictional works, then I suggest you read From Suez to Singapore by Cecil Brown, and Fiasco: the Breakout of the German Battleships by John Potter.  However, these books are hard to find, unless you're willing to buy them through Amazon.

The book titles link to the book pages here on PBS, which also contain my reviews.

 

Date Posted: 12/30/2016 10:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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Well, I have another one.  I just finished reading A Higher Call. It is an international best seller, and an engrossing read. This is a story many of you may already be familiar with. The central story covers the day a dedicated German fighter pilot, and ace, helped a severely damaged B-17 and its crew to safely leave Germany and return to their base. There is even a Wikipedia page about it.  However, that story is only a small part of the book. Much of the book covers others, on both sides, many of them dying or severely injured during the war. It describes the hardships they endured, and how the war affected their families.

As usual, the link to the book page also goes to a short review I posted there.  As of today, there are 45 members requesting it, but I'm keeping my copy.

Date Posted: 8/12/2017 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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Here is another book on WW II which I think is good revisionist history. It's not for your average reader, as it deals only with top level strategy, and is full of numbers (troop totals, casualties, tanks, planes, length of defensive lines, etc.).

Hitler's War



Last Edited on: 8/13/17 3:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/12/2017 9:04 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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Time for a good revisionist history on the liberation of Paris in 1944.

The Blood of Free Men

Go to the book's page for my review.

Date Posted: 9/24/2017 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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I'm not sure I'd rate the book Operation Storm as one of the 'great' books of World War II, but it is a fascinating one.  It is about a largely unknown tale of the war in the Pacific. And, as I state in my review (see the link), if you are looking for a different WW II book to read, this might be it.



Last Edited on: 9/24/17 4:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/23/2017 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
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If you are interested, and maybe even if you aren't, in the secret aspects of World War II, you need to read this book. I even regard it as an eye opener regarding so many aspects of the secret 'dealings' even I was unaware of. I thought I had read most of what took place on the "secret side" of World War II, but this book proved me wrong. Every chapter had more than one surprise for me. I found myself saying "You're kidding!" much too often.

Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

Date Posted: 12/25/2017 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2009
Posts: 2,048
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Thomas,

Thanks for letting us know about this book. It sounds absolutely fascinating.  I've been reading several books recently about the secret activities during WWII  and I am finding the revelations riviting.

Leslie

Date Posted: 3/4/2018 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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Hitler's Last Offensive by Peter Elstob was a surprising find, especially as it was published in 1971. It was not only an easy read, but a compelling one too. I learned much more about the American Battle of the Bulge than I had known before, and I've read many books on that battle. What also is surprising is the author is British, but gives full credit to the individual American soldiers, and many of their higher level commanders, who stopped the German onslaught. Some areas of the book might be termed "revisionist history" as it conflicts with some of the 'myths' we believe about the battle.  As usual, the link above goes to my review of the book.

Date Posted: 4/15/2018 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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John Costello does a great job of compiling historical facts found in numerous other books I've read in his Days of Infamy.  In addition, he also provides historical data which I was unaware of. If you want to know the truth behind the World War II American military disasters at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines, then read this book. I might add it is well cited, as the author quotes from numerous unclassified and recently declassified documents to prove that a coverup, to protect numerous high-level individuals our parents saw as heroes, was started in late 1941 and was continued for decades. The link above is to my review of the book. 

Date Posted: 5/8/2018 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,683
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I've read a number of books on the different aspects of the Battle for North Africa, even some complete histories. But if you only want to read just one, then I'd recommend War Without Hate by John Bierman and Colin Smith. The link is to the book's page and my review.

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