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Top Nine Books About World War II


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Just my thoughts...

And here are the caveats: Doesn't have to just historical. Just good and insightful (and debatable):

1)World War 2 by John Keegan. I think he got everything right on with his Strategic Dilemna analysis with the five key leaders. I recommend it, and it is not difficult to read.

2) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer. Much insight and very terrifying.

3) Cross of Iron, by. I do not recall the authors name, but it was excellent and forlorn, writing.

4) The History of World War II, by Lidell Hart. Rather dry, and didn't go into the causes much, but if you're a wargamer, it did give you an idea of what was going on.

5) From Here to Eternity (and the Thin Red Line), by I think the authors name was John James. Correct me if I am wrong. Talked about the people involved and it hurt.

6) The Battle of the Bulge by John Toland. He writes well. I have not read his other writings. This was one of the first books I ever read about World War 2.

7) King Rat, by James Clavell. It had nothing to do with the war, and everything (and I love his writing). A prison camp south of Singapore.

8) I have to say the Books about the War by Churchill, because someone will, but I found them dull, although I admire the man.

9) Open. If you have a book for this list, tell me, because then I want to read it. (anyone remember the rat patrol books - I loved those, though they were rather fakey. How about Up Periscope? And all of Robb Whites other books).

Let's have a (friendly) discussion on this.

Thanks for letting me share.


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BriantheWise said,

And here are the caveats: Doesn't have to just historical. Just good and insightful (and debatable):
My two book Suggestions:

Author, Sven Hassel, Served in Penal Unit while part of the Wehrmacht during WWII.

"...brutally honest and wickedly funny series of stories."

Books written 14 total

3 i have read,

The Legion Of The Damned


Monte Cassino (The Beast Regiment)

This is excerpt from biography,

Hassel was wounded seven times during his war service. He was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class, plus a number of other medals which he never carries - Gold Medal, Italian Military Cross. He is only ever seen with the Finnish Commander Of The Mannerheim Order.

Go here for complete biography of author.


With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

by Eugene B. Sledge,

Marine Rifleman with the First Marine Division.

This book is a must read that speaks with a voice of truth and emotion,

"...of one man's experiences in the meat grinder", of the Pacific War.

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Churchill's accounts would have been considerably different if he were allowed to reveal all he knew about the Enigma secrets, but none of that was released to the public till a decade and a half after his death -- ditto for Eisenhower. Both men were holding back on their true knowledge of events.

Churchill does tend to be dry. Some of his other non-WW II works, "The River War" and "A History of the English Speaking Peoples" are probably better reading.

The Liddel Hart history is very good, it was released around ' 71, about the time of it's author's death, and I remember the big splash was he'd revealed the Patton/Montgomery conflict over the available fuel in France.

Another very good one volume history of both theatres is Len Deighton's "Blood, Tears and Folly"

Edwin P. Hoyt wrote many interesting works of varying quality, but one of his book's, "Hitler's War" is practically a love song to the Fuhrer. While it has much merit, there are whole chapters that practically extole the Fuhrer's basic humanity and explains how he was corrupted by evil sidekicks like Heydrich and Himmler. Read it and laugh, or weep, depending upon your mood.

"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" is also great. I read it when it first appeard -- around 1960 when it was vaguely controversial for reasons I don't quite remember -- read it again in 1980 and again last year and each time I've been amazed at how excellent it is. I particularly like some of the footnote remarks. The part about the Warsaw uprising, for example, mentions an SS general who wrote a "journal that survives to this day*" and the footnote reads, "*But he hasn't . . .(explaining the man's trial and execution)."

A later William Shirer tome, "Decline and Fall of the Third Republic" is also great, though harder reading. And his "Berlin Diary" is also very interesting.

[ November 20, 2002, 05:52 AM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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I believe that Lidell-Harts book "on the other side of the hill" should be on the list. It focus on interviews with german generals and their opinions of what really happened during the campaigns.

Two books worth reding is Mansteins "verloene siege" and Guderians "panzerleader". Just don´t believe all they say in those...both wanted to justify themself and keep their reputations as unquestionable great commanders all the time ;)

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KuniWorth --

James Coburn -- one of those people like Burt Lancaster and James Stewart who you feel like you know personally and whose death makes you sorrowful.

I got a glimpse of Stewart when he was an Air Force reserve officer and spent a couple of weeks at Loring AF base (SAC & ADC) in Maine. He was reviewing a line of troopers and as he passed guys would whisper, "Yeah, that's the actor Jimmy Stewart!" and he looked a bit embarrassed while a Lt. Colonel kept turning and glaring at all us A1-c's and buck sergeants --

There was nothing Stewart could have done about it and I felt a little sorry for him. When the big brass were out of earshot a chiefmaster sergeant called us a bunch of cretins, then said "dismissed" and tried not to let anyone see he was laughing himself.

[ November 20, 2002, 06:17 AM: Message edited by: JerseyJohn ]

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