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JerseyJohn

WWII Bookshelf

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Rather than go into the books I've previously read on the subject I thought I'd start with a relatively new one. Please feel free to both comment and add books you've recently read on WWII that have impressed you, influenced your views, or that, perhaps, you threw in the corner.

Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War

by Patrick J. Buchanan

 

SYNOPSIS: Buchanan discusses the history of Europe from events leading up to World Wars I and II and their aftereffects on the modern world. He centers on key figures who caused or helped cause the wars, how their decisions might easily have been different, and the impact for better or worse they had on modern history.

His WWI villain is, more than any other nation, Britain with its secret deals and fear of Imperial Germany as it emerged not only as the dominant power of continental Europe but also as a colonial and naval power appearing to pose a real or potential threat to the British Empire. The result of the war was a destabilizing of Europe, the virtual end of European monarchial governments, the start of the decline of both the British and French empires, and the emergence of the United States as a global power.

The 1920s and 30s are filled with fateful political errors and mixed messages in the fatally flawed Treaty of Versailles and the mangling of Woodrow Wilson's promises to defeated Germany, and assurances to the newly created, mainly unstable, nations created out of the wreckage of pre-war empires. The consequence of Imperial Germany and Czarist Russia being destroyed and replaced by facism, nazism and communism. In the Pacific there's an interesting chapter on the alienation of Japan by Britain, cutting its alliance in favor of the United States, a nation that neither sought an alliance to replace the one lost for Britain, nor accepted any military commitments beyond its own borders and protectorates. The result, a Japan set loose from prior restraints deciding on a course of expansionism, eventually seizing Manchuria not only for imperial ambitions but also as a defense against Soviet Russia, soon to be followed by the interminable war of Chinese conquest.

The 1930s move to an end with Italy and Japan being driven from the League of Nations by Britain, France, and non-member American pressures for their various aggressions.

British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, in Buchanan's view, is the cause of WWII. Not, as is commonly stated, because he gave in to Hitler at Munich, but because afterwards he made the hopeless alliance with Poland, pulling France in as well, guaranteeing to fight in the Eastern European country’s defense if it were attacked by Germany. He places Chamberlain as equally guilty due to his pushing Chamberlain into this line of action. Were it not for Britain’s guarantee Poland, according to Buchanan, would have been forced to broker a deal with Germany with regard to Danzig and the corridor. According to Buchanan, Hitler at the time sought Poland as an Ally against the Soviet Union rather than as a German conquest. Buchanan goes further in his last chapter by stating Britain's involvement in the Sudetan episode was itself a terrible mistake. Without Munich there would have been two courses for Germany to follow: either fight for region, or back off. Either, it seems, would have been better than the actual historical course.

Once underway he points out Churchill’s part in its various military and political fiascos, particularly in regards to Britain itself, in not reaching an agreement with Hitler in 1940 instead of taking the, at the time totally unrealistic, stance of eventual victory over Germany. The inevitable result was the destruction of the British Empire, bankrupted even before the U. S. entry in the war, the replacing of Nazi Germany with Soviet Russia as the dominant power in Europe, and the establishment of the United States as the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth, replacing both pre-war Britain and France.

In his recap he notes Churchill’s place in history as a great man who, in attaining that greatness, caused the downfall of the empire he’d led to pyrrhic victory. I wholeheartedly agree.

The final chapter compares the post war U. S. with the British Empire of pre-WWI through the end of WWII. After decades of wise leadership in which it avoided its predecessor’s errors, America finally repeats those mistakes after Ronald Reagan, culminating in the impossible foreign commitments of George W. Bush, a president who placed a statue of Winston S. Churchill in his working office.

NOTES: This book has been criticized for not having been written in a scholarly manner. Buchanan quotes other historians rather than primary sources. True enough, but I feel the overall message and slant on historical events count for far more than literary form. Enjoyed the book on several levels and agree with Buchanan most of the way on both his historical perspective, and the present day lessons to be drawn from the events discussed. I also like the overview of looking at the two world wars and the periods preceding, linking and following as a single period of history divided into various parts.

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Interesting thread, though I cannot endorse the first book discussed. To dismiss the criticisms of Buchanan as simply that he failed to cite any primary sources is to gloss over the many serious reservations expressed. There are a number of good reviews out there, and I would recommend that anyone seriously contemplating this book go over these first. The wiki entry on the book is actually reasonably well done, aside from a distressing number of typos. But there are a number of useful references there. In my own quick google I found two reviews in the first three hits, and neither was very supportive of Buchanan. The first was a review essay of four books on the period by Geoffrey Wheatcroft – not particularly impressed is a mild summary of the review. (see for yourself at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21410 )

The second review I looked at was even more damning, and had some really dismissive comments. The review, by Adam Kirsch, is at http://www.nysun.com/arts/patrick-j-buchanans-know-nothing-history/79722/ . One of the lines is just too biting to avoid quoting.

“Mr. Buchanan's historical argument itself is pedestrian, a series of clichés enlivened only by malign sophistries.”

The essence of Kirsh’s critique is found in the following paragraphs:

“There is really only one controversial claim in "Hitler, Churchill, and the Unnecessary War." This is the notion that Britain should not have offered to guarantee Poland against Nazi aggression in April 1939, and so would not have had to go to war when the aggression came that September. This would have been the wiser course, Mr. Buchanan argues, because Hitler had no interest in war with Britain. In fact, he admired the English as racial comrades, and more than once floated the prospect of the two nations dividing up the world between them. His real target was the Soviet Union, and it would have been better for Britain and the world to allow those two monstrous tyrannies to fight each other alone.

It is hard to say which aspect of this argument is more objectionable, the factual or the ethical. Factually — or, rather, counterfactually — it is ludicrous to suggest that Britain would have been better off allowing Germany a free hand in Eastern Europe. When Hitler did invade the Soviet Union, in June 1941, he came within a hairsbreadth of immediate victory, pushing deep into Russian territory and enslaving or killing millions upon millions of civilians. Had Britain not been in the war at that point, had Hitler been fighting Stalin alone, there is good reason to think that the Wehrmacht would have been in Moscow by the end of the year. At that point, of course, it would have been truly suicidal for Britain to declare war on Germany, and Hitler would have been free to concentrate on invading the British Isles or starving them into submission. Only by getting into the war when it did, even at a very unpropitious moment, did Britain have a chance of ultimate survival.”

Having read the review by JerseyJohn as well as the other comments I am not impressed with the general thrust of Mr Buchanan’s arguments. Another reason I am unimpressed is that I recently completed going through a book that really does do a masterful job of reviewing the German aspects of the Second World War in compelling detail. This book indicates quite clearly that any agreement Hitler might have made with Poland in the early stages of the war would have been purely for tactical reasons. Hitler had a proven track record for expediency in his diplomacy by the summer of 1939, an important reason that Britain and France made the agreement with Poland that Buchanan is at pains to malign in his book. That Hitler would make – and break - any agreements necessary to further his goals would, one might have thought, been conclusively demonstrated by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent invasion of Russia. However, to much better understand the motivation and actions of Hitler, who really was bent on a massive change in Europe, one that would enable his Reich to challenge the US on a global scale, I sincerely recommend the book ‘The Wages of Destruction’ by Adam Tooze. A review, as well as links to other reviews, can be found at http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/economic/toozea.htm . This site rates the book as “A-” – comprehensive, but sometimes a little overwhelming. This is probably fair – Tooze has written a very detailed economic analysis that is crammed with lots of information, both new and from secondary sources. It is not always an easy read, but it is a remarkable book. It was recently recommended at wargamer.com, and I looked into it as a result of that recommendation. I am glad I did (and no, I am neither an economist nor one who really cares much for statistics – but the overall material here is really worth reading, even if it means a bit of work).

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Thank you Lodi for the very enlightening reply, and Cantona for increasing my interest in The Wages of War. I’ll definitely be getting it soon and will read it sometime soon.

I have yet to read a book on either world war, or anything else for that matter, that is totally good, or totally bad; totally useful or utterly pointless. Well, okay, perhaps a few that have been utterly pointless but fortunately I’ve managed to forget them.

It’s hard for me to see anything like a unified German point of view in WWII. There was only what Hitler wanted and what Hitler decided to do and everyone else either worked within those limits, was dismissed, retired or transferred to something else, or was killed.

And, of course, it was the same with Stalin.

So we’re talking about anyone trying to deal with either, or both those leaders, having to deal with madmen. It’s possible that Neville Chamberlain’s mistake was to view Hitler and his cronies as sane. The Nuremburg Laws and Night of Shattered Glass should have shown the true nature of what other nations were dealing with.

Poland, to be sure, was in the least enviable position of any nation on earth being located between two great military powers led by madmen, both of them feeling they had valid claims to the country. Add to that the shortsighted actions taken at Versailles assigning areas that were wholly German and wholly Russian to the fledgling nation along with a port that was totally German and a swath of land leading to the sea that, aside from also being inhabited by Germans was made all the more untenable because it cut a large part of Germany off from the rest of the country. I don’t see any viable path for Poland other than to marry one or other of its powerful neighbors. An alliance with Britain, France or for that matter the United States would have been less than useless in terms of their country’s survival.

To me Britain and France, having passed on defending Czechoslovakia, a war that would actually have made sense, follow a course the following year of handing out guarantees to Poland and Rumania.

Buchanan’s conclusion is that this altered the course taken by Poland to that of playing chicken with Hitler. Not a wise policy when dealing with a madman who happened to be armed to his teeth. Without the Anglo-French guarantee, which again I have to say I’ve always felt was pure folly, Poland would have needed to find its own path. Ultimately it might well have ultimately lost its sovereignty but the continent, as a whole, would have been spared the catastrophic war that followed. At least one assumes. As you say, there’s no guarantee that Hitler wouldn’t have next claimed some sort of Greater Germania to include Holland, Denmark and Norway, a turn that Britain would definitely have had to stand against. Although in that case perhaps Germany would have been more cautious with the USSR sharing a common border through what had once been Poland.

Getting back to the Poles. I believe that, had Colonel Beck and the rest of the government agreed to what appeared to be Hitler’s very reasonable 1939 terms of a German highway through the corridor and return of Danzig to the Reich -- with Poland receiving financial compensation for lost revenue -- it would in time have been followed for with the official transfer of the Polish Corridor to Germany, the adaptation of anti-Semitic laws etc & etc. The only thing Poland could hope for in such a scheme with Germany was to eventually be reduced to minor ally status, self-governing as long as it did whatever Germany asked, and in every possible way subservient to a criminal regime.

Buchanan doesn’t deny that, although neither does he ever quite put it in the terms I’ve stated above. What he says is that its total destruction at the hands of Germany was easily foreseeable and the only logic behind the British and French guarantee (which did not ask Poland to come to their aid in the event they went to war with Germany over some other issue) was that Hitler, again presuming him to be sane, would not risk the insanity of a war with two great powers -- particularly in view of his having a third with a loaded gun standing at his back.

There are way too many aspects to these issues to properly discuss in a single thread, or even in anything less than a thorough and objective multi-volume study. But what Buchanan suggests is that Britain and France ought to have gotten together and decided what they could reasonably defend and drawn an announced policy along those lines, as the United States did in the post war world.

I have to agree with that. To be cynical, I think the policy of the west ought to have been to direct Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia into a collision without themselves becoming participants. What might have happened from there is an area that can be speculated upon from now till Doomsday (2012?!!). :eek::eek::D

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In the "what if" department, there are two I recommend:

1) "The Hitler Options", edited by Kenneth Macksey (numerous authors), published by Greenhill Books and Stackpole Books, 1995

2) ""What If", edited by Harold Deutsch and Dennis Showalter (numerous authors), published by Emperor's Press, 1997

:cool:

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The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,

And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

***********************************************

The above succinct indictment of "the State," and it's dully dumb devotions to War, was composed by Randall Jarrell, who served in the US Army Air Force during WW2.

He also offers the following brief explanatory note on his short, yet, truly memorable poem... copyright 1945:

-----------------------------------------------------------

"A ball turret was a Plexiglas sphere set into the belly of a B-17 or B-24, and inhabited by two .50 caliber machine-guns and one man, a short small man. When this gunner tracked with his machine guns a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret; hunched upside-down in his little sphere, he looked like the foetus in the womb. The fighters which attacked him were armed with cannon firing explosive shells. The hose was a steam hose."

-------------------------------------------------------------

In most instances the real-deal story of any war is to be found in the fictional, and selectively, in the non-fictional accounts of those who were there.

Nobody did it better than Ernest Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms." One active participant's (... as an ambulance driver) romantically expressed disenchantment with the first world war, or as can be easily extrapolated -- any war.

Also, the best history is to be found in those some times terribly intimate details provided by (... non "embedded," as in Iraq2) journalists who traveled with, occasionally fought with, and very surely lived and died with the troops.

I am considering here and now a few truly stalwart writers such as... Bill Mauldin in Italy -- primarlily a cartoonist, so to speak, who wrote sparely but with intense spirit and lyric; and Ernie Pyle who sailed with the army and marines, island-hopping throughout the South Pacific; and of particular interest to me, Michael Herr who wrote the definitive account of Vietnam -- "Dispatches."

What is mythic, what is dug deep from the very gut -- to include the dreams, the fantasies, the intuition and the sub-conscious understanding insofar as it might be apprehended -- of the ones who... were there... trumps "history" every single time, IMHO. For -- really, what is "history?"

A compilation of anecdotes.

A SUBJECTIVE interpretation of distant events, adjuged -- disturbingly, distantly.

And worse, "historians" tend to rely on Government sources for their "facts," and those, as we might know, or -- guess-it-so, if we don't know -- quite yet... are ever unreliable.

JMO.

It's all I got. It's all I need. :)

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Currently I'm reading "The Path to Victory" by Douglas Porch, a good examination, albeit in hindsight of the Mediterranean campaign, my favorite theater. Its a great read but like so many historians offers multitudes of anecdotal recipes based on that Monday morning quarterback philosophy.

The fact is, these guys never seem to elaborate on the intangibles in realistic terms, just like we do when we try and recreate a "what if " with these games of WW2 simulations. No man knows. Its very hard to not use your knowledge in hindsight and try and put yourself in the decision makers' shoes facing an unknown conclusion, hard to ignore what has already concluded.

I'll be the first here to discuss the possibilities and passionately defend my line of reasoning with circumstantial evidence, but remember my friends we can't really know, just like the historical players, how a different decision here, an appropriately conceived action there would have opened up a whole set of different conclusions, its impossible for us mortal beings. But we can contemplate.

Just remember its pure conjecture, so don't be so quick to judge the historical figures based upon hindsight, for a different route offers many branches and it was not us that was in the position of power making that educated decision, or so they thought.

Many times we take action, when perhaps no action was required, but what's the price of inaction? We have history to shed a light but it is by no means bright and the many possibilities of the alternative will forever escape us....for no man knows.;)

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DD

While your rambling rant is entertaining, as usual, I must take some exception, umbrage even, to your smug dismissal of ‘historians’ and even (with careful reservations) ‘government sources’.

It is all too easy to dismiss historians as a source of information not worthy of notice. The profession, which is perhaps too grand a term, invites pejorative dismissal because of its broad spectrum of membership. Indeed, almost anyone, even right wing hacks such as Buchanan, can grandly label themselves historians, even though they do not deign to go so far as to conduct any rigorous research.

The wide variety of those that describe themselves as historians invites ridicule, and DD has certainly supplied that. However, I would boldly propose that there are, to simplify, two types of historians. The first is the general or populist writer. The second actually seeks to discover as much as possible about his subject before and while committing himself to paper. In reality there is some need for both – meticulous historians can be woefully boring, while some general historians can write so lucidly and intelligently that they can illuminate useful insights even while doing minimal research (and, no, despite JJ’s long efforts to try and point out the possibilities of Buchanan’s book, I am afraid that the most that can be said for that ‘historian’s’ effort is that there is a little bit of plausibility in his main thesis. It would be, however, more accurate to describe his main thesis as resting on a highly implausible premise, albeit one that was most certainly entertained by the isolationist American right before the Second World War - leave the fascists and the communists alone and they’ll kill each other off.)

Meticulous historians certainly do often peruse records maintained by the Government. These are known, as a general class, as archives. The contents of archives include many, many things, and some of those are indeed produced by Government bureaucrats. Meticulous historians treat such documents with appropriate caution, and endeavour to find ways to either verify or discredit the contents of all documents they check – especially those produced by bureaucrats. I have some minor experience with archives and historical writing myself, so I do not make these observations based only on vicarious observation, but some actual personal experience. Cross checking to try and determine what REALLY happened is indeed one of the most important activities for meticulous historians. (less critical if you are happy to rely on a select number of secondary sources, as some so-called historians are known to do)

Despite the conspiracy theory mumbo jumbo proclaimed by DD, meticulous historians actually can do much to illuminate historical events such that readers can perhaps perceive how things may indeed have come to pass. Many events are difficult to determine with precision, which of course provides those who despise historians with a ready supply of sarcastic observations.

In the long run each of us has to rely on our own analysis of each book or source they read. However, this skill can be improved with effort – dismissive sarcasm is generally not a useful application of critical analytical skill, but more often the resort of those not willing to make a true effort to understand.

Having said all that, I would also suggest that many historians also consider the fiction produced relevant to their areas of research, as well as the first hand accounts of those who were there, whether accredited journalists (such as Pyle) or simply those participants who kept diaries or subsequently took the time to write up their memoirs. Science fiction is also useful for providing different perspectives on the issue of war – Joe Haldeman’s Forever War is one of my personal favourites.

Finally, since I really shouldn’t end a contribution to this well intended thread with a reference to science fiction, I would commend Gerhard Weinberg’s ‘A World at Arms’ to anyone wishing a comprehensive single volume history of the Second World War. This is an impressively researched book (i.e. Weinberg is very much a historian of the meticulous type) but it is also extremely well written. It is, however, a long book, so those looking for quick answers may need to look elsewhere.

SeaMonkey

You posted while I was writing the above. I have read Porch’s book on the Med, and found it a reasonably good one volume summary of that theatre, if a little dry in places. (Basically, I am trying to agree with you!) However, thinking of the Med reminds me of the two books Rick Atkinson has produced so far of his US Army Trilogy, “An Army at Dawn”, and “The Day of Battle”. Atkinson is a superb writer, and these two books are highly recommended for a good look at the US Army in the Med.

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Well put, SeaMonkey.

DesertDave, I remember reading about a badly damaged bomber returning to base, unable to get the unwounded young gunner out of its ball turret, and unable to engage its landing gear. You can easily imagine the rest. I believe it was a true story, but heard or read about it so long ago I can't be sure.

Read A Farewell To Arms too long ago, was also too young to really understand what Hemingway was saying; will be reading it again soon.

As a boy in the fifties (there were still plenty of WWI veterans alive and well!) I always tried to get in to listen to what all the war veterans had to say. Almost none of them would talk about the things they'd seen, especially an uncle of mine who almost never spoke. He'd see me playing soldier with friends and would give each of us a to go for ice cream while he watched our toy guns; usually just altered old broom or mop handles. I found out after his death that he'd served in North Africa and Europe, don't know what division he was with, but he was in it right up to the end. A few days after the announcement of Hitler's death he was on patrol in a deserted farm area and came under fire from a cottage. They kept yelling in pigeon German that the war was over but the reply was just heavier firing. Finally he got close enough to lob handgrenades inside. A moment later a boy of about 11 or 12 staggered out, shredded, and died in his arms thinking my uncle was his father. He went inside to see his buddies, half of them also dying in his arms, and he never fully recovered.

Another uncle, a tanker in Europe, told me once about what was usually left of a Sherman's crew after it had been hit and burst into flames. He shrugged and told me how the wreck would be towed back, cleaned out, repaired, and a given to the next crew.

And so it goes. None of them wrote books about it. I've also known several concentration camp survivors and even an old man who'd been in the Waffen SS fighting in Russia. He always said he was Swedish though he was actually from Finland and went to Germany in the early 30s because he wanted to be a Nazi. In his late eighties he showed me some photos he'd taken in his soldiering days, one had him picking up a long bench under a branch, looking up and smiling at the camera. Hanging from the branch were several young boys and girls. He looked at the photo over forty years later and had a little smile, "Those rascals, what did they not do?!" as though it were all part of a game. And yet, he was my friend, a sort of favorite old uncle who I loved too much to hate.

And on, and on, but I think there's no need (nor space) to go into all of them. Aside from which they aren't my war stories, only those that some older people have told to me.

Curiously I've never been able to read about the Vietnam War, or to watch movies on the subject. I always end up seeing people I grew up with getting killed in that pointless tragedy, and it still makes me sick to think about it. To a lesser extent the Korean War has a similar effect on me. Kind of odd because it's easy for me to read about other wars Americans fought in.

Snowstorm and Arado, thanks for the suggestios, put them on my list. :cool:

In the way of novels about WWII I've always liked Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House Five andJoseph Heller's Catch 22, both of which incorporate a great deal of satire, but deliver the message in ways that gave me chills. A straight war novel published during the war, A Walk in the Sun is one of my all time favorites. No guts and glory, only reality.

I like the alternative history novels of Harry Turtledove. Also one by J. N. Stroyar, The Children's War and one that is set in a hypothetical post war Germany of around 1960, Fatherland by Robert Harris, with the Cold War being between the United States and Third Reich. I'm not sure but I think there's an unending war going on beyond the Urals somewhere, but other than that WWII ended long before with Germany conquering and holding Europe.

Some collections of alternative history short works I like are: The World Hitler Never Made compiled by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld. Third Reich Victroious compiled by Peter G Tsouras.l Rising Sun Victorious compiled by the same editor. And, Disaster at D-Day, also by Peter Souras (busy, busy busy!) :D

Within the war I like The Pianist very much, by Wladyslow Sipilman, a great concert pianist who lived through the German occupation of Warsaw.

Holocaust in fiction I like a collection of short stories by Hugh Nissenson, A Pile of Stones.

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I said at the start that this was not a straight history book and I'm beginning to become annoyed at being seen as a champion of Pat Buchanan. As for saying what the book is or isn't worth, those who haven't read it really can't be saying that. I enjoyed it, found his premise interesting and he said many things I happen to agree with. Period.

Among them isn't that the most of Europe should have been abandoned so the Nazis and Commies could kill one another. What I said is that Britain and France, after giving up the Czechs, no longer had any means of helping anyone in either Eastern or Central Europe and the policy should have been containment, in other words, as I said, drawing a line past which they could not commit themselves, as Buchanan suggests, and as I've always felt would have been the most sensible course.

As for the difference between real historians and hacks, William S. Shirer belongs with the hacks, at least that's what all the scholars said when he published Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in the early 60s. His only right to having written the thing was that he'd been an eyewitness in Europe while all of the events were taking place, rather than having been sitting as a professor at Harvard or Yale.

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Exactly what did Britain and France do in 1939 that was so wonderful? France wanted to lay low, as it had all along, and Chamberlain, for whatever reason only he could have known, suddenly guaranteed that Britain would guarantee the independence of Poland, Hungary and Rumania if attacked by Germany. The French felt obliged to add that they would do so as well, though they went along with it in a mood of fatality, and well they should have because Chamberlain had gone mad. After having handed Nazi Germany the means to instantly increase its army by 50% in handing it Czhechoslovakia, the only Democracy of all the countries involved, they suddenly decide at that point, with the scales suddenly tipped hopelessly against them, that they should fight the war they ought to have fought, on more than equal terms, a year earlier. It was a reckless course that ignored reality, made a major war inevitable, and increased exponentially the suffering and death that Europe and the entire world had to endure. Chamberlain, and after him Churchill, did nothing but destroy a basically civilized world along with their own country and leave in the ruins the breeding ground for all the discontent and misery that came afterwards. For a second half of the 20th Century that saw even more people killed as a result of wars than the first half, in which the two biggest were fought.

My purpose at the start of this thread was to encourage people to discuss books on WWII that they'd read recently and either enjoyed or found interesting.

I didn't start off with this book to make myself Pat Buchanan's apologist, I most certainly am not.

Nor did I do it to make myself some sort of target for condescending, pontifical remarks about how I enjoyed something written by a "Historical Hack." It would have been just as easy for me list something more conventional from academia, or to set about with a high handed trashing of Buchanan's book, but instead I tried to remain honest and objective. I certainly have never agreed with the man's politics, but I happen to find much of what he said here to make sense. Excuse me for expressing the opinion.

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JJ, you're good, we know you would never champion any author as the final word, it is as you say, "food for thought", your reputation is highly respected here, so relax.

Ludi, I have read "An Army at Dawn" and it is excellent, its a part of my library, but I cannot recollect "Day of Battle"...:confused:.....time for a visit to "Half-Price"......well maybe I'll check my bookshelves first, I'm warming to the title, but its not a recent read.:o

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SeaMonkey

The Day of Battle is the second book in Atkinson’s trilogy covering the US Army in Europe, 1942-45, published in 2007 (the third volume is not out yet). It is almost as good as the first volume – comparisons of excellence are challenging. I highly recommend Atkinson, as his research appears very thorough and his writing is outstanding.

JJ

I’ll give up on Buchanan. As his publisher notes, he is very good at stimulating controversy.

JJR

America paid a high price in the war, though modest compared to many of the other major combatants – the toll of this war is mind boggling to me. It is impossible to determine if avoiding the war would have been more costly in the long run or not. My view is that it probably would have been. But counter-factuals are the hardest to prove.

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JJR

America paid a high price in the war, though modest compared to many of the other major combatants – the toll of this war is mind boggling to me. It is impossible to determine if avoiding the war would have been more costly in the long run or not. My view is that it probably would have been. But counter-factuals are the hardest to prove.

Just depends on point of view. I'm certainly not getting dumped off on a rubber boat to reach the beach at Tarawa. Why would any parent, brother, sister, etc.....want any family member to die for Europe's or Asia's problems?

I'll pick my own battles, thank you very much.

"Fighting somebody elses war is for suckers" --- The Godfather

Stay Thristy My Friends,

-Legend

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...

JJ

I’ll give up on Buchanan. As his publisher notes, he is very good at stimulating controversy.

...

True! :eek: I saw him come off a discussion recently with a rant about not believing humans are descended from monkeys. The commentator chuckled and said, "You're a great medieval man, Pat" and Buchanan burst out laughing. Once in a while, when I want to be amused by politics gone berserk, I watch him and Jim McClaughlan howling at one another. I think the guy mostly likes to get people going to see where the chips come down.

Everyone has the right to not read a given author. There's a former Alaska governor, for example, whose book I wouldn't read even if I were paid to. Well, okay, maybe if I got the right price, but it would need to be extremely high, and she wouldn't have to autograph my copy, it wouldn't be around long enough to become a collector's item. :D

BrotherRambo,

I think most people, men mainly, feel that way about serving in the military. All armies like to recruit kids, legally around 18 but if they were able to grab them at 12 I'm sure none of them would hesitate. The reason, put a kid in a uniform and he'll usually think he's impregnable and will be willing to put his life on the line because someone of higher rank said it was what he should do. No kid ever thinks he's the one who'll be getting killed. Put an older man in a uniform and the main thing on his mind is finding a way to get out of it without being called a deserter.

SeaMonkey,

Appreciated, and likewise. I was in a disgruntled mood last night and, unfortunately, it came out in those two posts.

A better idea, and one I'm sure I'll do a little later, is to turn those points into a thread -- something like How WWII Might Have Been Sidestepped.

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JerseyJohn,

Hey, that's a great idea! :D:D

Make a thread about the what ifs and almosts of WW II, I certainly would be intrigued and entertained. I almost would do it myself, but I don't want to steal your thunder, and you do a better job of getting it started.

Go for it. :cool::cool:

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JerseyJohn im not sure that the Brits and French could have done anything else(Standing up to Hitler after they sold out the Czechs which was REALLY STUPID).The only other recourse would be to let him wipeout minor after minor country with no threat from anyone.Because the French and the Brits.declared war it forced Hitler to change his plans radically.He couldnt prepare his country for war in 1942 because he was already at war and suffering losses(especially after the Battle of Britain).It changed his whole strategy and the course of the war.If we just sat back and did nothing untill we thought we were ready who knows what Hitler may have achieved by then.

I agree with you in that alot of suffering just continued at the hands of the Soviets and we just traded one tyrant for another but where did you get your info on overall human losses due to wars on the latter half of the 20th century?Over 50 million died as a result of WW2(dont know the overall human cost in WW1)It was the single most destructive war ever fought.Im not familiar with the losses from the other wars fought but was it really over 60 million(im guessing the human lives lost in WW1)?

Rambo do you really think it would have been wise to just let the Europeans fight it out?I know it was still a long shot but without U.S.actual involvement Hitler may have been able to pull off some sort of victory.How do you think the world would view America and what type of a world would people(including America)be living in?Imho it would have been absolutly horrible.You can also bet that if Hitler remained in power as soon as he figured he had the upper hand he would start the dam war all over again(this time with the latest and greatest rockets which would have been able to hit America).Now America and the rest of what was left of the world would have to fight some nut that could fire rockets anywhere armed with who knows what.Stopping Hitler decisivley with overwelming firepower was the right thing to do.It aslo showed the Russians that if they tried to start anything that America would fight.

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Snowstorm, Glad you like the idea too. Don't agree that I would do it better than yourself, but with me there's sure to be at least one psychotic episode :eek: so it would probably be more amusing. :D I'm going to start a thread on it during the next few days.

Arado, Don't recall where I first heard or read it, probably from a history documentary, but just as likely from a world atlas. I pretty much only keep track of things that relate directly to something on working on, otherwise it goes to the mental note department.

But below is something I found just now on the Internet. This list has even higher totals for WWI & WWII than you estimated, and the second half deaths still appear to be higher. Though I didn't add them up, and it isn't organized that way.

-- Regarding the Brit and French topic, I'm going with Snowstorm's suggestion and starting a thread on it during the next few days so this one will stay more on topic regarding books people have read. I'm planning to copy the posts we've both made on the subject in the thread's top post to begin the discussion. I think it ought to be worthwhile and interesting.

Also planning to start another thread on how far the United States should have taken neutrality, and what actions it took such as Lend-Lease, embargoes and other moves that may have led up to our ultimate involvement. I think both subjects are interesting and don't want to mix them together.

If you feel like starting either or both threads please do so, I'm eager to see what thoughts go into it and am sure both will develop quickly. :cool:

-- Ooops, forgot to paste that grizly list I mentioned. :rolleyes::D

Wars and Genocides of the 20th Century

by Piero Scaruffi

160 million people died in wars during the 20th century

(See also 1900: A century of genocides)

TM, ®, Copyright © 2009 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

1860-65: American civil war (360,000)

1886-1908: Belgium-Congo Free State (8 million)

1899-02: British-Boer war (100,000)

1899-03: Colombian civil war (120,000)

1899-02: Philippines vs USA (20,000)

1900-01: Boxer rebels against Russia, Britain, France, Japan, USA against rebels (35,000)

1903: Ottomans vs Macedonian rebels (20,000)

1904: Germany vs Namibia (65,000)

1904-05: Japan vs Russia (150,000)

1910-20: Mexican revolution (250,000)

1911: Chinese Revolution (2.4 million)

1911-12: Italian-Ottoman war (20,000)

1912-13: Balkan wars (150,000)

1915: the Ottoman empire slaughters Armenians (1.2 million)

1915-20: the Ottoman empire slaughters 500,000 Assyrians

1916-23: the Ottoman empire slaughters 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks

1914-18: World War I (20 million)

1916: Kyrgyz revolt against Russia (120,000)

1917-21: Soviet revolution (5 million)

1917-19: Greece vs Turkey (45,000)

1919-21: Poland vs Soviet Union (27,000)

1928-37: Chinese civil war (2 million)

1931: Japanese Manchurian War (1.1 million)

1932-33: Soviet Union vs Ukraine (10 million)

1934: Mao's Long March (170,000)

1936: Italy's invasion of Ethiopia (200,000)

1936-37: Stalin's purges (13 million)

1936-39: Spanish civil war (600,000)

1937-45: Japanese invasion of China (500,000)

1939-45: World War II (55 million) including holocaust and Chinese revolution

1946-49: Chinese civil war (1.2 million)

1946-49: Greek civil war (50,000)

1946-54: France-Vietnam war (600,000)

1947: Partition of India and Pakistan (1 million)

1947: Taiwan's uprising against the Kuomintang (30,000)

1948-1958: Colombian civil war (250,000)

1948-1973: Arab-Israeli wars (70,000)

1949-: Indian Muslims vs Hindus (20,000)

1949-50: Mainland China vs Tibet (1,200,000)

1950-53: Korean war (3 million)

1952-59: Kenya's Mau Mau insurrection (20,000)

1954-62: French-Algerian war (368,000)

1958-61: Mao's "Great Leap Forward" (38 million)

1960-90: South Africa vs Africa National Congress (?)

1960-96: Guatemala's civil war (200,000)

1961-98: Indonesia vs West Papua/Irian (100,000)

1961-2003: Kurds vs Iraq (180,000)

1962-75: Mozambique Frelimo vs Portugal (?)

1964-73: USA-Vietnam war (3 million)

1965: second India-Pakistan war over Kashmir

1965-66: Indonesian civil war (250,000)

1966-69: Mao's "Cultural Revolution" (11 million)

1966-: Colombia's civil war (31,000)

1967-70: Nigeria-Biafra civil war (800,000)

1968-80: Rhodesia's civil war (?)

1969-: Philippines vs New People's Army (40,000)

1969-79: Idi Amin, Uganda (300,000)

1969-02: IRA - Norther Ireland's civil war (2,000)

1969-79: Francisco Macias Nguema, Equatorial Guinea (50,000)

1971: Pakistan-Bangladesh civil war (500,000)

1972-: Philippines vs Muslim separatists (Moro Islamic Liberation Front, etc) (120,000)

1972: Burundi's civil war (300,000)

1972-79: Rhodesia/Zimbabwe's civil war (30,000)

1974-91: Ethiopian civil war (1,000,000)

1975-78: Menghitsu, Ethiopia (1.5 million)

1975-79: Khmer Rouge, Cambodia (1.7 million)

1975-89: Boat people, Vietnam (250,000)

1975-90: civil war in Lebanon (40,000)

1975-87: Laos' civil war (184,000)

1975-2002: Angolan civil war (500,000)

1976-83: Argentina's military regime (20,000)

1976-93: Mozambique's civil war (900,000)

1976-98: Indonesia-East Timor civil war (600,000)

1976-2005: Indonesia-Aceh (GAM) civil war (12,000)

1977-92: El Salvador's civil war (75,000)

1979: Vietnam-China war (30,000)

1979-88: the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan (1.3 million)

1980-88: Iraq-Iran war (1 million)

1980-92: Sendero Luminoso - Peru's civil war (69,000)

1980-99: Kurds vs Turkey (35,000)

1981-90: Nicaragua vs Contras (60,000)

1982-90: Hissene Habre, Chad (40,000)

1983-: Sri Lanka's civil war (70,000)

1983-2002: Sudanese civil war (2 million)

1986-: Indian Kashmir's civil war (60,000)

1987-: Palestinian Intifada (4,500)

1988-2001: Afghanistan civil war (400,000)

1988-2004: Somalia's civil war (550,000)

1989-: Liberian civil war (220,000)

1989-: Uganda vs Lord's Resistance Army (30,000)

1991: Gulf War - large coalition against Iraq to liberate Kuwait (85,000)

1991-97: Congo's civil war (800,000)

1991-2000: Sierra Leone's civil war (200,000)

1991-2009: Russia-Chechnya civil war (200,000)

1991-94: Armenia-Azerbaijan war (35,000)

1992-96: Tajikstan's civil war war (50,000)

1992-96: Yugoslavian wars (260,000)

1992-99: Algerian civil war (150,000)

1993-97: Congo Brazzaville's civil war (100,000)

1993-2005: Burundi's civil war (200,000)

1994: Rwanda's civil war (900,000)

1995-: Pakistani Sunnis vs Shiites (1,300)

1995-: Maoist rebellion in Nepal (12,000)

1998-: Congo/Zaire's war - Rwanda and Uganda vs Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia (3.8 million)

1998-2000: Ethiopia-Eritrea war (75,000)

1999: Kosovo's liberation war - NATO vs Serbia (2,000)

2001-: Afghanistan's liberation war - USA & UK vs Taliban (40,000)

2002-: Cote d'Ivoire's civil war (1,000)

2003: Second Iraq-USA war - USA, UK and Australia vs Saddam Hussein (14,000)

2003-09: Sudan vs JEM/Darfur (300,000)

2003-: Iraq's civil war (60,000)

2004-: Sudan vs SPLM & Eritrea (?)

2004-: Yemen vs Shiite Muslims (?)

2004-: Thailand vs Muslim separatists (3,700)

Arab-Israeli wars

  • I (1947-49): 6,373 Israeli and 15,000 Arabs die
  • II (1956): 231 Israeli and 3,000 Egyptians die
  • III (1967): 776 Israeli and 20,000 Arabs die
  • IV (1973): 2,688 Israeli and 18,000 Arabs die
  • Intifada I (1987-92): 170 Israelis and 1,000 Palestinians
  • Intifada II (2000-03): 700 Israelis and 2,000 Palestinians
  • Israel-Hamas war (2008): 1,300 Palestinians

Main sources:

  • Charny: Genocide - A Critical Bibliographic Review (1988)
  • Stephane Courtois: Black Book on Communism (1995)
  • Clodfelter: Warfare and Armed Conflicts (1992)
  • Elliot: Twentieth Century Book of the Dead (1972)
  • Bouthoul: A List of the 366 Major Armed Conflicts of the period 1740-1974, Peace Research (1978)
  • R.J. Rummel: Death by Government - Genocide and Mass Murder (1994)
  • Matt White's website
  • Several general textbooks of 20th century history

Back to world news | Back to history

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Rambo do you really think it would have been wise to just let the Europeans fight it out?I know it was still a long shot but without U.S.actual involvement Hitler may have been able to pull off some sort of victory.How do you think the world would view America and what type of a world would people(including America)be living in?Imho it would have been absolutly horrible.You can also bet that if Hitler remained in power as soon as he figured he had the upper hand he would start the dam war all over again(this time with the latest and greatest rockets which would have been able to hit America).Now America and the rest of what was left of the world would have to fight some nut that could fire rockets anywhere armed with who knows what.Stopping Hitler decisivley with overwelming firepower was the right thing to do.It aslo showed the Russians that if they tried to start anything that America would fight.

Yeah, I do. I think alot of people (Americans) got killed for nothing. I didn't say I wouldn't get involved, but I wouldn't shove our young people on beaches, airplanes, & islands in order to save Russia, France, or any of them.

Was Russia really our Allie & Friend? Better yet, 'Is' Russia our Allie & Friend? Only 15 years after World War II, Russia/USA was moments from a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crissis. If that's an Allie, then I'll be independent. Screw Russia. Russia hates us to this very day. Putin (or fill_in_the_blank) leader of theirs. The Russians put half the planet on Commie Watch. The Korean War had Russian military equipment & support. WTF? You're our friend?

This should be part of "WHAT IF" scenarios. What if the USA just chilled out. What if the USA did a different type strategy?

Here's a strategy. Don't tell Russia or Germany your intentions. Arm-up. Walk slowly & carry a big stick. Build super-duper long-range high flying bombers instead. The USA got in a hurry from June 6th onward. Too many soldiers died.

For the same matter, why hurry with the Japs? Too many Americans died on the islands. What was the point of taking Iwo Jima? We NEVER used those air fields. The Mariannas were close enough to bomb Japan.

I feel bad for all those soldiers who died. So what if Germany took over Russia? People will say,"We had to join the war because of the Holocaust". I say,"Really? Really? Then why didn't the US Government say that?". People say it was to protect our freedom. How? We live on this side of the pond. How is Adolf going to take our freedom?

The USA got in a big hurry.

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@Sir Jersey --- Thanks for posting that. All those Wars, All those People. What does it add upto? Bunch of dates of people getting killed. Nothing has been solved. The Devil won the 20th Century. Israel/Iran is on the brink. Russia/USA almost nuked each other during Kennedy's Crisis.

I'm taught that World War II was to "fight for our freedom". Untrue, we fought in 1776 for that. The Germans or Japs couldn't steal our freedom. I'm taught that World War II was to save the Jews from the Holocaust. Untrue, the American people never knew about it.

Why did we fight WW-2? Pearl Harbor, okay. But just because Pearl Harbor was attacked, does that mean I want to die on a rubber raft on Tarawa?

All those dead people, and no peace. History will repeat. Something will hit the fan either before or after the New World Order.

We need the Prince of Peace to return.

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Rambo I agree with you totally about how stupid it was to land on some of the beachs(especially those waste of time islands)but if the Germans had defeated Russia(dont know if that would have ever been possible)do you really think that madman would stop.You can be absolutley sure that after he finished with England(which would then be in huge trouble)this would cause the rest of Europe,Turkey,the Mid-East oil etc,all to fall into his hands.He would no longer be resource poor.Dont you think that he would then turn his sights on America.Remember the Germans were years ahead of us in rocket tech.and for sure he would start firing them at America,which would have NO defence.Also with no bomber offensive the Germans would be free to start to work on an Atomic bomb plus who knows what type of Chemical or biological weapons they would have developed.Im VERY glad and VERY gratefull of all the young men and women that saw that none of what I just wrote had even the slightest to chance to happen because if it did im sure alot of us wouldnt be here today.

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