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Topic: World War I, World War II recommendations

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Subject: World War I, World War II recommendations
Date Posted: 12/18/2010 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2007
Posts: 35
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I'm looking for books on either war that cover the wars in a more overall approach rather than from a specific angle like woman during the wars. I'd love to know of both good fiction and nonfiction books.

Date Posted: 12/19/2010 12:42 AM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Hyacinth:   John Dos Passos' trilogy, U.S.A., is set in the years just before and during and just after World War I.    If you only care about the war years, you need only look at the second volume, 1919,   You could skip  the first volume, The 42nd Parallel, and the third volume, The Big Money.

Another novel about World War I is Mark Helprin's A Soldier of the Great War.   The protagonist is a veteran of the Italian Army, whose son  is a casualty in World War II.  

Robert Graves's memoir, Goodbye to All That, is largely about his military service in France in World War I.   You could skip past the opening chapter in which he is a student in England, before he enlisted in the Royal Welsh regiment.

Last Edited on: 12/19/10 12:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/19/2010 10:24 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2009
Posts: 62
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If you will click on my name, you will find my profile, etc.  On the right side, down the page a bit, are several book lists that I established.  One is on WWII books that either my husband or I have read and enjoyed.  Another is on non-WWII military history books, one of us has read or enjoyed.  That includes WWI, as well as other wars that the US participated in.  You might check there and see if you find anything specific.  PamC



Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 12/19/2010 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I don't know if it's what you're looking for, but I enjoyed A Short History of World War One by Norman Stone (a British author).  It is indeed short (less than 200 pages) but it does at least give an overview of the entire conflict, and was very well done in my opinion.

Date Posted: 12/20/2010 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2007
Posts: 35
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Thanks to everyone for their help!

Pam, you've offered quite the selection on your lists.

Bonnie, I appreciate the options. I'll check out 1919.

Matt, I'm looking for something more in-depth. I should have been more specific. Thanks for trying to give me what I asked for. It's amazing how hard that can be to get when you ask a question.

Date Posted: 12/24/2010 1:38 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Best fiction for WW1 I have ever read was All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque


Date Posted: 1/28/2011 1:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson

Volume I

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943An Army at Dawn
The War in North Africa, 1942-1943



Volume II

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, by Rick AtkinsonThe Day of Battle
The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944


Subject: Total War and others
Date Posted: 4/1/2011 11:08 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,512
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For a complete overview of World War II, read Total War by Calvocoressi, Wint and Pritchard. This book covers all aspects of the war, including detailed analysis of the events that led to it, the homefront, the resistance and more, instead of just sticking to the traditional recounting of the military campaigns.  It is 1224 pages and not an easy read in some parts. The European threater is covered far better than the Pacific threater, which I am still reading about. I'm just over 800 pages into it. Make sure you get the Revised Second Edition, as earlier editions didn't do a very good job, based on reviews I've seen.

For an excellent analysis of the "secret war" in World War II, read Bodyguard of Lies by Anthony Cave Brown.  This book caused me to say to myself, "So, that's why that happened." numerous times. I've read very broadly about this war and had so many unanswered questions. This book answered so many of them.

The best overall book on the U.S. Marines in World War II is Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie.

And to understand how we won World War II's longest battle, the Battle of The Atlantic which was waged for almost six long years, read Black May by Michael Gannon.

Last Edited on: 4/2/11 11:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2011 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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Hyacinth:  A book that (unfortunately, IMO) has become rather obscure is Paths of Glory: The French Army, 1914-1918.    After you read this one, get hold of a print of the film version with Kirk Douglas and watch it.    The experience will stick in your memory,

Last Edited on: 4/2/11 6:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/27/2011 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
Posts: 2,566
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I really enjoyed "The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause, I listened to it on tape. I too have been on a military kick, but I especially love captures and escape--- or memoirs My absolute favorite was "Three Came Home" by Agnes Keith .

Date Posted: 5/4/2011 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/15/2010
Posts: 1
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I don't know if the history of the Third Reich is something that you are looking for,  but I recommend "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by  William Shirer as an essential WWII book to read.  This book brings you through the origins of the Nazi party up to the fall of Germany in WWII and delves into social, political and military issues.  Richard Evans also has a good three part series on the Third Reich. 

I also recommend a very good biography of Hilter by Ian Kershaw.  As for fiction, I would go with Marge Piercy's "Gone to Soldiers", "Stones from the River" by Irsula Hegi, and Hans Fallada's "Every Man Dies Alone". 

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 5/10/2011 7:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I've been reading The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, in the fiction realm.  This book and it's sequel, War and Remembrance, make up a lengthy historical fiction perspective on WWII.  The books are long, but I like Wouk's style and his characters.  The story moves quickly, and it is historically accurate in the details of the war itself.  Herman Wouk is Jewish, so he has an interesting perspective on the holocaust, as well as history in general, having lived through the war.  I also recommend his earlier book, The Caine Mutiny, which I would also class as historical fiction, but is semi-autobiographical about a minesweeper-destroyer in the Pacific (Herman Wouk served on such ships for 3 years in WWII).

I am amazed by Wouk's longevity.  I also read his nonfiction book, The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion, which just came out last year, when Wouk was 95, and still sharp as ever (his first book was published in 1947).  He is still alive, though sadly his wife of 65 years recently passed away.

Date Posted: 5/10/2011 8:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
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Matt, I have a couple of those in a box on World War II and now I know to get them out and try them.  Thanks for the recommendation!