Voices in Wartime

Non-Fiction--Yamazaki to Yoshimi

Yamazaki, James N.  Children of the Atomic Bomb (Duke University Press, 1995).

Children of the Atomic Bomb is Dr. Yamazaki's account of a lifelong effort to understand and document the impact of nuclear explosions on children, particularly the children conceived but not yet born at the time of the explosions. Assigned in 1949 as Physician in Charge of the United States Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Nagasaki, Yamazaki had served as a combat surgeon at the Battle of the Bulge where he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war by the Germans. In Japan he was confronted with violence of another dimension - the devastating impact of a nuclear blast and the particularly insidious effects of radiation on children. Yamazaki's story is also one of striking juxtapositions, an account of a Japanese-American's encounter with racism, the story of a man who fought for his country while his parents were interned in a concentration camp in Arkansas.

Despite familiar images of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan and the controversy over its fiftieth anniversary, the human impact of those horrific events often seems lost to view. In this uncommon memoir, Dr. James N. Yamazaki tells us in personal and moving terms of the human toll of nuclear warfare and the specific vulnerability of children to the effects of these weapons. Giving voice to the brutal ironies of racial and cultural conflict, of war and sacrifice, his story creates an inspiring and humbling portrait of events whose lessons remain difficult and troubling fifty years later.
"Children of the Atomic Bomb" is Dr. Yamazaki's account of a lifelong effort to understand and document the impact of nuclear explosions on children, particularly the children conceived but not yet born at the time of the explosions. Assigned in 1949 as Physician-in-Charge of the United States Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in Nagasaki, Yamazaki had served as a combat surgeon at the Battle of the Bulge where he had been captured and held as a prisoner of war by the Germans. In Japan he was confronted with violence of another dimension--the devastating impact of a nuclear blast and the particularly insidious effects of radiation on children. 

Yamazaki's story is also one of striking juxtapositions, an account of a Japanese-American's encounter with racism, the story of a man who fought for his country while his parents were interned in a concentration camp in Arkansas. Once the object of discrimination at home, Yamazaki paradoxically found himself in Japan for the first time as an American, part of the Allied occupation forces, and again an outsider. This experience resonates through hiswork with the children of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and with the Marshallese people who bore the brunt of America's postwar testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific.

 

Yeide, Harry.  The Longest Battle: September 1944-February 1945: From Aachen to the Roer and Across (Zenith Press, 2005).

In the early afternoon of September 12, 1944, an American patrol entered Nazi Germany southwest of the ancient city of Aachen. Three months after the landing at Normandy, the Allies were finally within reach of the enemy on his home turf. Among the troops there was even talk of getting home for Christmas. What followed, though, was one of the most grueling campaigns of the war-the nearly six-month-long battle fully recounted for the first time in this powerful work. Combining stirring narrative and meticulous historical detail, The Longest Battle provides a complete and compelling account of what happened after the first breach of the Third Reich by Allied ground combat forces, of the troops' terrible struggle across the Siegfried Line, Hitler's vaunted West Wall, through the benighted Hurtgen Forest, and across the Roer. The strategic decisions and setbacks, the incremental advances, and catastrophic losses that marked this still-controversial but critically important battle unfold in all their historical, military, and human significance in Harry Yeide's book finally filling a gap in our understanding of World War II.

 

Yellin, Emily.  Our Mothers' War (Free Press, 2005).

Our Mothers' War is an eye-opening and moving portrait of women during World War II, a war that forever transformed the way women participate in American society. Never before has the vast range of women's experiences during this pivotal era been brought together in one book. Now, Our Mothers' War re-creates what American women from all walks of life were doing and thinking, on the home front and abroad. These heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking accounts of the women we have known as mothers, aunts, and grandmothers reveal facets of their lives that have usually remained unmentioned and unappreciated.

 

Yoneyama, Lisa.  Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory (University of California Press, First edition, 1999).

Remembering Hiroshima, the city obliterated by the world's first nuclear attack, has been a complicated and intensely politicized process, as we learn from Lisa Yoneyama's sensitive investigation of the "dialectics of memory." She explores unconventional texts and dimensions of culture involved in constituting Hiroshima memories—including history textbook controversies, discourses on the city's tourism and urban renewal projects, campaigns to preserve atomic ruins, survivors' testimonial practices, ethnic Koreans' narratives on Japanese colonialism, and the feminized discourse on peace—in order to illuminate the politics of knowledge about the past and present. In the way battles over memories have been expressed as material struggles over the cityscape itself, we see that not all share the dominant remembering of Hiroshima's disaster, with its particular sense of pastness, nostalgia, and modernity. The politics of remembering, in Yoneyama's analysis, is constituted by multiple and contradictory senses of time, space, and positionality, elements that have been profoundly conditioned by late capitalism and intensifying awareness of post-Cold War and postcolonial realities.

Hiroshima Traces, besides clarifying the discourse surrounding this unforgotten catastrophe, reflects on questions that accompany any attempts to recover marginalized or silenced experiences. At a time when historical memories around the globe appear simultaneously threatening and in danger of obliteration, Yoneyama asks how acts of remembrance can serve the cause of knowledge without being co-opted and deprived of their unsettling, self-critical qualities.

 

Yoshimi, Yoshiaki.  Comfort Women (Columbia University Press, 2002).

Available for the first time in English, this is the definitive account of the practice of sexual slavery the Japanese military perpetrated during World War II by the researcher principally responsible for exposing the Japanese government's responsibility for these atrocities. The large scale imprisonment and rape of thousands of women, who were euphemistically called "comfort women" by the Japanese military, first seized public attention in 1991 when three Korean women filed suit in a Toyko District Court stating that they had been forced into sexual servitude and demanding compensation. Since then the comfort stations and their significance have been the subject of ongoing debate and intense activism in Japan, much if it inspired by Yoshimi's investigations. How large a role did the military, and by extension the government, play in setting up and administering these camps? What type of compensation, if any, are the victimized women due? These issues figure prominently in the current Japanese focus on public memory and arguments about the teaching and writing of history and are central to efforts to transform Japanese ways of remembering the war.  Yoshimi Yoshiaki provides a wealth of documentation and testimony to prove the existence of some 2,000 centers where as many as 200,000 Korean, Filipina, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Burmese, Dutch, Australian, and some Japanese women were restrained for months and forced to engage in sexual activity with Japanese military personnel. Many of the women were teenagers, some as young as fourteen. To date, the Japanese government has neither admitted responsibility for creating the comfort station system nor given compensation directly to former comfort women.

 

Non-Fiction--Weller to Wurst

Weller, George.  First Into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War (Crown, 2006).

George Weller was a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter who covered World War II across Europe, Africa, and Asia. At the war’s end in September 1945, under General MacArthur’s media blackout, correspondents were forbidden to enter both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. But instead of obediently staying with the press corps in northern Japan, Weller broke away. The intrepid newspaperman reached Nagasaki just weeks after the atomic bomb hit the city. Boldly presenting himself as a U.S. colonel to the Japanese military, Weller set out to explore the devastation.

As Nagasaki’s first outside observer, long before any American medical aid arrived, Weller witnessed the bomb’s effects and wrote “the anatomy of radiated man.” He interviewed doctors trying to cure those dying mysteriously from “Disease X.” He typed far into every night, sending his forbidden dispatches back to MacArthur’s censors, assuming their importance would make them unstoppable. He was wrong: the U.S. government censored every word, and the dispatches vanished from history.  Weller also became the first to enter the nearby Allied POW camps. From hundreds of prisoners he gathered accounts of watching the atomic explosions bring an end to years of torture and merciless labor in Japanese mines. 

 


Werner, Herbert A.  Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II (Da Capro Press, 2002).

The former German U-boat commander Herbert Werner navigates readers through the waters of World War II, recounting four years of the most significant and savage battles. By war's end, 28,000 out of 39,000 German sailors had disappeared beneath the waves.

 

Wilbanks, Bob.  Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II (MacFarlane and Company,  2004).

Beginning on December 8, 1941, at the U.S. Navy Yard barracks at Cavite, the story of this young Iowa marine continues through the fighting on Corregidor, the capture and imprisonment by the Japanese Imperial Army in May 1942, Mac’s entry into the Palawan prison camp in the Philippines on August 12, 1942, the terrible conditions he and his comrades endured in the camps, and the terrible day when 139 young soldiers were slaughtered. The work details the escapes of the few survivors as they dug into refuse piles, hid in coral caves, and slogged through swamp and jungle to get to supportive Filipinos. It also contains an account and verdicts of the war crimes trials of the Japanese guards, follow-ups on the various places and people referred to in the text, with descriptions of their present situations, and a roster of the names and hometowns of the victims of the Palawan massacre.

 

Williams, Andrew.  The Battle of the Atlantic: The Allies' Submarine Fight Against Hitler's Gray Wolves of the Sea (Basic Books, 2004).

From 1939 until 1942, Hitler's U-boats--the submarine fleet dubbed the "gray wolves"--threatened to accomplish what his air force had been unable to achieve: to starve Britain into submission. The ensuing struggle for control of the storm-tossed Atlantic trade routes became a full-scale war-within-a-war, and one which led to astounding losses: Allied powers would lose more than fifty thousand men, and fifteen million tons of shipping, over the course of the conflict. Through exclusive interviews with survivors on both sides-including those given for the first time by former U-boat crew members-historian and documentary producer Andrew Williams provides a riveting account of these crucial years of battle. Vividly recreating the claustrophobic and dangerous life on board, The Battle of the Atlantic succeeds in encompassing the whole experience of warfare as few other histories have, and forms an important contribution to our understanding of one of the greatest fights of the twentieth century. 

 

Williamson, Gordon.  Wolf Pack: The Story of the U-Boat in World War II (Osprey Publishing, 2006).

Germany's World War II U-boat fleet was a truly elite fighting force. The U-Boot Waffe represented the cream of Germany's naval personnel, and in terms of technology, training, tactics and combat successes, the German fleet was far superior to that of any other combatant nation. This book tells the complete story of the 'Grey Wolves' who harried the Allies' supply lines and came close to winning total victory for Hitler in Europe. The wartime development of the U-boat is traced from the Type I through to the Type XXI, and the experiences of typical U-boat crewmen, from recruitment to combat, are brought to life. Operational tactics are examined, and the massive bunkers that housed the U-boat fleet are described and illustrated.

 

Winebrenner, Hobert and Michael McCoy.  Bootprints (Camp Comamajo Press, 2005).

After over sixty years of holding it deep within, an aging World War II veteran shares his harrowing tale of life and death on Northern Europe's front lines. From Utah Beach, through the hedgerows of Normandy, the liberation of France, the Battle of the Bulge, the assault on Germany and the chase into Czechoslovakia, follow in Sergeant Hobert Winebrenner's Bootprints.  Wounded twice and captured once, with five Bronze Battle Stars and one Silver Star, he saw much in his "Walk Through World War II." 

 

Wistrich, Robert.  Who's Who in Nazi Germany (Routledge, Third edition, 2001).

"The author's skillful interweaving of characters and events succeeds in presenting to us a comprehensive record of Hitler's Reich. By cool, dispassionate reporting he exposes a liturgy of evil." (History Today)

 

Wood, Edward W., Jr.  Worshipping the Myths of World War II: Reflections on America's Dedication to War (Potomac Books, 2006).

Examines how American world leadership is badly served by widespread misunderstanding of the nature of war in general and of World War II in particular.

 

Wragg, David.  Malta: The Last Great Siege 1940-1943 (Pen and Sword, 2003).

The strategic importance of Malta sitting astride both the Axis and Allied supply routes in the Mediterranean was obvious to both sides during WW2. As a result the Island became the focal point in a prolonged and dreadful struggle that cost the lives of thousands of servicemen and civilians. After setting the scene for the action, this book tells the story of the Island's stand against the might of the Axis powers that led to the unprecedented award of the George Cross to the whole island by King George VI. It not only covers the struggle by the British and Maltese forces on the ground but the vicious fighting in the skies above. This was indeed a siege involving every man and woman on the Island.

 

Wright, Kai.  Soldiers of Freedom: An Illustrated History of African Americans in the Armed Forces (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2002).

Spanning from the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan, this long-overdue, comprehensive history covers the full scope of African Americans' involvement in the armed forces during war and peacetime. Accompanying the informative text are 300 photographs and illustrations, most of them rare, some never before published.

 

Wurst, Spencer and Gayle Wurst.  Descending From The Clouds: A Memoir of Combat in the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division (Casemate, 2005).

Wurst, a rifleman, spent the most of World War II in the European Theater of Operations as a squad leader or platoon sergeant in Company F, 505. He made three of the four regimental combat jumps, dropping into Italy, Normandy, and Holland. Highlights include his baptism of fire in Italy during the Battle of Arnone; the jump on D-Day and the liberation of Ste. Me're Eglise (for which he was awarded a Purple Heart); a grueling month of combat in the hedgerows of Normandy (a second Purple Heart); the ferocious battle with the SS for the highway bridge at Nijmegen, Holland (Silver Star); and survival in the Ardennes, where he found himself as point man on his twentieth birthday, in a long, bitter march toward the shoulder of the Bulge.

Wurst's narrative, set against a carefully researched historical background, offers a unique view of the heat of battle as experienced by a noncommissioned officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. Initial chapters chronicle his training before mobilization, when he lied about his age (15) to the National Guard in Erie, Pennsylvania, and his later experience in a heavy weapons company of the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. In 1941, Wurst was on a truck returning from First Army maneuvers in the Carolinas to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation when he heard the news of the attack at Pearl Harbor. He recounts life at Camps Livingston and Beauregard in Louisiana, and at the newly formed Parachute School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was stationed in the infamous "Frying Pan" area.

 

Non-Fiction--Walker to Welch

Walker, Mark.  Nazi Science: Myth, Truth, and the German Atomic Bomb (Basic Books, 2001).

This is a chilling, behind-the-scenes look at the use and misuse of science by officials of the Third Reich and the scientists who served them. Walker investigates whether most German scientists during Hitler's regime embraced the tenets of National Socialism or cooperated in a Faustian pact for financial support of their research. It provides a comprehensive look at what surprisingly turned out to be an Achilles' heel for Hitler.

 

Walker, J. Samuel.  Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan (The University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

In this concise account of why America used atomic bombs against Japan in 1945, J. Samuel Walker analyzes the reasons behind Presdient Truman's most controversial decision. Delineating what was known and not known by American leaders at the time, Walker evaluates the roles of U.S.-Soviet relations and of American domestic politics. In this new edition, Walker takes into account recent scholarship on the topics, including new information on the Japanese decision to surrender. He has also revised the book to to place more emphasis on the effect of the Soviet invasion of Manchuris in convincing the emperor and his adviser to quit the war. Rising above an often polemical debate, Walker presents an accessible synthesis of previous work an important, original contribution to our understanding of the events that ushered in the atomic age.

 

Walker, Stephen.  Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima (Harper Perennial, 2006).  

Shockwave is the story of the three weeks leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima, as seen through the eyes of the pilots, victims, scientists, and world leaders at the center of the drama. Extraordinary interviews with American and Japanese witnesses tell the story of the bombing of Hiroshima with unparalleled immediacy and veracity -- including the tale of the copilot of the Enola Gay, the atomic scientist who arms the bomb in midair, and the Japanese student desperately searching for his lover in the ruins of the city.

 

Walter, Elizabeth B.  Barefoot in the Rubble (Pannonia Press, 1997).

Barefoot In The Rubble, Elizabeth Walter thus joins a distinguished company of Vertreibung survivoirs who have refused to let the politics of memory destroy their own sense of self-worth. Until more of the world's population than is now the case realize, with Orwell, that 'punishing an enemy brings no satisfaction, ' she cannot expect a wide audience; but those of us who have read her story are in her debt. " (Charles M. Barber)  Listed on the the State of Illinois Holocaust bibliography.

 

Ward, Geoffrey C. and Ken Burns.  The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945 (Knopf, 2007).

The vivid voices that speak from these pages are not those of historians or scholars. They are the voices of ordinary men and women who experienced—and helped to win—the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost.  Focusing on the citizens of four towns— Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama;—The War follows more than forty people from 1941 to 1945. Woven largely from their memories, the compelling, unflinching narrative unfolds month by bloody month, with the outcome always in doubt. All the iconic events are here, from Pearl Harbor to the liberation of the concentration camps—but we also move among prisoners of war and Japanese American internees, defense workers and schoolchildren, and families who struggled simply to stay together while their men were shipped off to Europe, the Pacific, and North Africa.

 

Wasserstein, Bernard.  Secret War in Shanghai: An Untold Story of Espionage, Intrigue, and Treason in World War II (Houghton Mifflin, 1999).

Shanghai during World War II was a killing field of brutal competition, ideological struggle, and murderous political intrigue. China's largest and most cosmopolitan city, the intelligence capital of the Far East, was a magnet for a corrupt and bizarrely colorful group of men and women drawn to the "Paris of the East" for its seductive promise of high living and easy money. Political and sexual loyalties were for sale to the highest bidder. Allied and Axis agents, criminal gangs, and paramilitary units under various flags waged secret, savage warfare. Espionage, lurid vice, subversion, and crime come together in a lethal concoction. Nowhere on earth was the twilight zone between politics and criminality better exemplified than in this glittering and dangerous place. 

Secret War in Shanghai is the first book-length account of the little-known story of Shanghai's underground war. The widely respected historian Bernard Wasserstein has researched it entirely from original sources and uncovered startling new evidence of collaboration and treason by American, British, and Australian citizens. This remarkable depiction of complicity and betrayal is history at its most exciting and surprising. 

Webster, Donovan.  The Burma Road : The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II (FSC. 2004).

As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at World War II's outset—closing all of China's seaports—more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route—which would be called the Burma Road -- from the southeast Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the road was severed, and it became the task of American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell to reopen it, while keeping China supplied by air-lift from India and simultaneously driving the Japanese out of Burma as the first step of the Allied offensive toward Japan. In gripping prose, Donovan Webster follows the adventures of the American "Hump" pilots who flew hair-raising missions to make food-drops in China; tells the true story that inspired the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai; and recounts the grueling jungle operations of Merrill's Marauders and the British Chindit Brigades. Interspersed with portraits of the American General Stilwell, the exceedingly eccentric British General Orde Wingate, and the mercurial Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, The Burma Road vividly recreates the sprawling, sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and still largely unknown stories of one of the greatest chapters of World War II. 

 

Wegner, Gregory.  Anti-Semitism and Schooling Under the Third Reich (RoutledgeFalmer, 2002).

Schools played a major role in advancing an ideological justification for mass murder and legitimizing a Nazi culture of ethnic and racial hatred. Wegner provides a fascinating look at the anti-Semitic foundations of Nazi curriculum for elementary schools, paying particular attention to the subjects of biology, history and literature. Wegner argues that any study of Nazi society and its values must probe the education provided by the regime in order to understand how the official knowledge of the state was circulated and legitimized. Anti-Semitism and Schooling Under the Third Reich chronicles an extreme case of what happens when schools are put in the service of a political agenda.

 

Weinberg, Gerhard L.  A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge University Press, Second edition, 2005).

In a new edition featuring a new preface, A World of Arms remains a classic of global history. Widely hailed as a masterpiece, this volume remains the first history of World War II to provide a truly global account of the war that encompassed six continents. Starting with the changes that restructured Europe and its colonies following the First World War, Gerhard Weinberg sheds new light on every aspect of World War II. Actions of the Axis, the Allies, and the Neutrals are covered in every theater of the war. More importantly, the global nature of the war is examined, with new insights into how events in one corner of the world helped affect events in often distant areas.   

 

Weinberg, Gerhard L.  Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Visions of Victory explores the views of eight war leaders of the major powers of World War II—Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Chiang Kai-shek, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, and Roosevelt - and compares their visions of the future assuming their side had emerged victorious. While the leaders primarily focused their attention on the strategy for fighting and winning the war, these very decisions were often shaped by their aspirations and hopes for the future. Weinberg assesses how subsequent events were impacted by these decisions and examines how these visions for the future changed and evolved throughout the war.

 

Welch, Bob.  American Nightingale (Atria, 2005). 

She was a Jewish girl growing up in World War I-torn Poland. At age seven, she and her family immigrated to America with dreams of a brighter future. But Frances Slanger could not lay her past to rest, and she vowed to help make the world a better place -- by joining the military and becoming a nurse. 

Frances, one of the 350,000 American women in uniform during World War II, was among the first nurses to arrive at Normandy beach in June 1944. She and the other nurses of the 45th Field Hospital would soon experience the hardships of combat from a storm-whipped tent amid the anguish of wounded men and the thud of artillery shells. Months later, a letter that Frances wrote to the Stars and Stripes newspaper won her heartfelt praise from war-weary GIs touched by her tribute to them. But she never got to read the scores of soldiers' letters that poured in. She was killed by German troops the very next day. 

 

Welch, David.  Propaganda and the German Cinema, 1933-1945 (I. B. Tauris: 2001).

This is the most comprehensive analysis to date of Nazi film propaganda in its political, social, and economic contexts, from the pre-war cinema as it fell under the control of the Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, through to the end of the Second World War. David Welch studies more than one hundred films of all types, identifying those aspects of Nazi ideology that were concealed in the framework of popular entertainment.

 

 

Welch, David.  The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (Routledge, 2002).

This work re-appraises one of the most closely studied issues in European history-the appeal of the Nazi party and analyses the reasons behind the remarkable and sustained success of National Socialism in Germany. David Welch challenges previously held assumptions about the effectiveness of Nazi Propaganda, summarizes the major current debates and argues that in order to be successful, propaganda must preach to the partially converted. This second edition brings the book up to date with a revised introduction and postscript to reflect the historiographical debates of the 1990s. It includes new material on many topics such as the medium of radio, the "Hitler myth" and racial purity.

 

Non-Fiction--Vance-Watkins to Voss

Vance-Watkins, Lequita and Aratani Mariko (Editors).  White Flash/Black Rain: Women of Japan Relive the Bomb (Milkweed Editions, 1995).

White Flash/Black Rain: Women Of Japan Relive The Bomb speaks of the shared accountability for bringing about war, any war. These women bear witness not only to the unspeakable mass destruction unleashed by the United States when it dropped the bomb, but also of the disastrous path Japan followed with its policy of conquest and Emperorism in Korea and China, and the abuse of the "comfort women" used by Japanese soldiers. White Flash/Black Rain is a book of peace. These women tell their stories in hope that what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never, never happen again.  (Midwest Book Review)

 

Vassiltchikov, Marie.  Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945 (Vintage, 1988).

The secret diaries of a twenty-three-year-old White Russian princess who worked in the German Foreign Office from 1940 to 1944 and then as a nurse, these pages give us a unique picture of wartime life in that sector of German society from which the 20th of July Plot—the conspiracy to kill Hitler—was born.

 

Vause, Jordon.  U-Boat Ace: The Story of Wolfgang Luth (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2001).

An exceptional figure in the history of the German Navy, Wolfgang Luth was one of only seven men in the Wehrmacht to win Germany's highest combat decoration, the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. At one time or another he operated in almost every theater of the undersea war, from Norway to the Indian Ocean, and became the second most successful German U-boat ace in World War II, sinking more than 220,000 tons of merchant shipping. A master in the art of military leadership, Luth was the youngest man to be appointed to the rank of captain and the youngest to become commandant of the German Naval Academy. Nevertheless, his accomplishments were overshadowed by those of other great aces, such as Prien, Kretschmer, and Topp.

 


Verton, Hendrick.  In The Fire Of The Eastern Front: The Experiences Of A Dutch Waffen-SS Volunteer On The Eastern Front 1941-45 (on and Company Ltd., 2006).

Dutch SS accounts are very rare, particularly ones such as this, covering recruitment, training, and frontline service first with 5th SS Panzer Division 'Wiking', then later with SS Regiment Besslein. He not only informs and illustrates the general politics of the time, but also explains how Dutch views of the Third Reich changed so radically, discusses the founding of the Waffen-SS, the recruitment of Dutch volunteers into it and why so many non-German Europeans volunteered to fight and risk their lives for Germany. His discussion of the intensity of the SS's training is also noteworthy. Of course, the core of the book lies in Hendrik's recollections of his service on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1945, initially with the 5th SS Panzer Division 'Wiking'. He offers the reader an impressive and fluid account, whether it be describing the midst of battle, surviving 50 degrees below zero, frosts and frozen ground, or traversing a quagmire of roads. Of particular historical interest are his later recollections of service during 1944-45 with SS Regiment Besslein on the Eastern Front, focusing on his participation in the epic defense of Breslau - this siege remains little-known in the West, and first-hand accounts such as Hendrik's are even scarcer, making this title a worthy addition to the literature on the Second World War.

 

Victor, George.  Hitler: The Pathology of Evil (Potomac Books, 1999).

Any student of World War II knows that Adolph Hitler was a complex and demon-ridden man. Victor, a Jewish psychotherapist dealing with personality disorders, argues that Hitler's troubled pathology has never been seriously studied because of fears that he might emerge as a guiltless and even sympathetic victim of forces beyond his control. In this painstaking analysis of Hitler's family background and childhood, supported by exhaustive study of his written and spoken utterances, the author makes a convincing case of how the German leader came to be deeply disturbed and shows how these findings manifested themselves in Hitler's social philosophy, leadership style, and, eventually, his fateful policy decisions. Less convincing is his contention that Hitler deliberately avoided quick victories over Britain and the Soviet Union to have time to complete the Holocaust. Even so, this is a fascinating and extremely lucid journey into the mind of one of the century's most pivotal figures. (Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Program, Edwards AFB for Library Journal)

 

Vinogradov, V.K.  Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB (Chaucer Press, 2005).

At last one of the greatest mysteries of the Second World War has been solved. Since historian Hugh Trevor-Roper made his name with the publication of Hitler’s Last Days, it has been accepted that the Nazi leader killed himself as Allied troops closed in. Many have suspected that the story was incomplete; now, with the help of previously unpublished documents from the KGB archives, one of the last great secrets of World War II can be revealed. With testimony from Germans and Russians who participated in the battle for the Reichstag and evidence from those sent to arrest the Fuhrer, Hitler’s Death pieces together the astonishing truth of the final days of Nazism.  Surrounded by secrecy, this book also includes a detailed examination of the complete diaries of Martin Bormann and graphic new evidence from Hitler’s inner circle. This revelatory work provides a unique insight into the death throes of the Third Reich and is guaranteed to cause controversy.

 

Vogel, Ilse-Margret.  Bad Times, Good Friends (Sheep Meadow Press, 2001).

The memoirs of a gentile woman living in Berlin during World War II. The author recounts how she and her friends struggled to protect anyone who was against Hitler.

 

Voss, Johann.  Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS (Aberjona Press, 2002).

Originally written while the author was a prisoner of the US Army in 1945–46, Black Edelweiss is a boon to serious historians and WWII buffs alike. In a day in which most memoirs are written at half a century’s distance, the former will be gratified by the author’s precise recall facilitated by the chronologically short-range (a matter of one to seven years) at which the events were captured in writing. Both will appreciate and enjoy the abundantly detailed, exceptionally accurate combat episodes. 

Even more than the strictly military narrative, however, the author has crafted a searingly candid view into his own mind and soul. As such, Black Edelweiss is much more than a "ripping yarn" or a low-level military history. Black Edelweiss joins not only the growing body of German military memoirs, but the more select, more narrowly-focused group of personal memoirs by other Waffen-SS enlisted men. Beyond the microcosmic view of combat these books relate—to the extent that they are honest and candid—such books are important for what they can reveal about their authors’ motivations and reflections on those impulses and their consequences. To date, these works differ significantly. 

 

Non-Fiction--Takaki to Treat

Takaki, Ronald.  Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb (Back Bay Books, 1996).

The bombing of Hiroshima was one of the pivotal events of the twentieth century, yet this controversial question remains unresolved. At the time, General Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and chief of staff Admiral William Leahy all agreed that an atomic attack on Japanese cities was unnecessary. All of them believed that Japan had already been beaten and that the war would soon end. Was the bomb dropped to end the war more quickly? Or did it herald the start of the Cold War? In his probing new study, prizewinning historian Ronald Takaki explores these factors and more. He considers the cultural context of race - the ways in which stereotypes of the Japanese influenced public opinion and policymakers - and also probes the human dimension. Relying on top secret military reports, diaries, and personal letters, Takaki relates international policies to the individuals involved: Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, Secretary of State James Byrnes, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and others... but above all, Harry Truman.

 

Tanaka, Yukiko.  Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (Westview Press, 1998).

This book documents for the first time previously hidden Japanese atrocities in World War II, including cannibalism; the slaughter and starvation of prisoners of war; the rape, enforced prostitution, and murder of noncombatants; and biological warfare experiments. The author describes how desperate Japanese soldiers consumed the flesh of their own comrades killed in fighting as well as that of Australians, Pakistanis, and Indians. Another chapter traces the fate of 65 shipwrecked Australian nurses and British soldiers who were shot or stabbed to death by Japanese soldiers. Thirty-two other nurses, who landed on another island, were captured and sent to Sumatra to become "comfort women"-prostitutes for Japanese soldiers. Tanaka recounts how thousands of Australian and British POWs died in the infamous Sandakan camp in the Borneo jungle in 1945. Those who survived were forced to endure a tortuous 160-mile march on which anyone who dropped out of line was immediately shot. Only six escapees lived to tell the tale. Based on exhaustive research in previously closed archives, this book represents a landmark analysis of Japanese war crimes. The author explores individual atrocities in their broader social, psychological, and institutional milieu and places Japanese behavior during the war in the broader context of the dehumanization of men at war-without denying individual and national responsibility.

 

Tec, Nechama.  Resilience and Courage: Women, Men and the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2004).

In this riveting book Nechama Tec offers insights into the differences between the experiences of Jewish women and men during the Holocaust. Her research draws on a variety of sources: wartime diaries, postwar memoirs, a range of archival materials, and most important, direct interviews with Holocaust survivors. Tec reveals how women and men on the road to annihilation developed distinct coping strategies and how mutual cooperation and compassion operated across gender lines.

 

Tenney, Lester I.  My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March (Potomoc Books, 2007).

Captured by the Japanese after the Philippines fell, Lester Tenney was among the few to survive the legendary Bataan Death March. He witnessed fellow POWs die by the hundreds from thirst, wounds, disease, and the Japanese guards savage mistreatment. Armed only with his sense of humor, sharp mind, and fierce determination, Tenney then endured three and a half years as a slave laborer in miserable Japanese POW camps. My Hitch in Hell is an inspiring survivor’s epic about the triumph of human will despite unimaginable suffering.

 

Tittman, Harold H., Jr. Inside the Vatican of Pius XII: The Memoir of an American Diplomat During World War II (Image, 2004).

The question of whether Pius XII and the Vatican must bear blame for failing to act decisively in response to Hitler’s Final Solution is as hotly debated today as in the years directly following World War II. Inside the Vatican of Pius XII presents for the first time the observations of an American diplomat who spent four years inside the Vatican. This memoir of Harold H. Tittmann, Jr., describes his encounters with Pius XII and offers details that give a full picture of daily life in the Vatican. Writing of his own activities as a diplomat, Tittmann chronicles his role in assisting and hiding escaped prisoners of war and his experiences navigating the tensions with the representatives of enemy states, with whom he lived side by side. Deftly conveying the beauty and solemnity of events that took place in the dramatic settings of St. Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel, and the Pope’s private chapel, Tittmann’s work will be valued by historians and students of history for generations to come.

 

Tooze, Adam.  The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (Viking, 2007).

In this groundbreaking new history, Adam Tooze provides the clearest picture to date of the Nazi war machine and its undoing. There was no aspect of Nazi power untouched by economics—it was Hitler’s obsession and the reason the Nazis came to power in the first place. The Second World War was fought, in Hitler’s view, to create a European empire strong enough to take on the United States. But as The Wages of Destruction makes clear, Hitler’s armies were never powerful enough to beat either Britain or the Soviet Union—and Hitler never had a serious plan as to how he might defeat the United States. 

 

Townsend, Kenneth William.  World War II and the American Indian (University of New Mexico Press, New edition, 2002).

World War II marked a crossroads for Native Americans. Twenty-five thousand served in America's armed forces and forty thousand—including many Native American women employed in defense industries—secured   jobs on the home front. The war years divided their past from their future, providing some with the skills and opportunities to enter mainstream society. For other Native Americans, wartime experiences affirmed the value of a renewed, reinvigorated Indian identity apart from the dominant society. 

This book is the first full account of Native American experiences from the 1930s to 1945 and the first to offer the Indians' perspective. It begins with their responses to the drift toward war in the 1930s, including their reactions to propaganda campaigns directed at them by Nazi sympathizers. It is also the only ethnohistory of their experiences during World War II. Included are the voices and recollections of Indian men who resisted the draft, of those who fought in Europe and the Pacific, and of Indian women on the homefront. The book is also a careful reinterpretation of John Collier's career as commissioner of Indian affairs during the Roosevelt years. Townsend argues that Collier's efforts to preserve traditional Native American lifeways inadvertently provided Indians the resources, training, and services necessary for assimilation in the post-war years. 

 

Treat, John Whittier.  Writing Ground Zero: Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb (University of Chicago, 1996).

Treat recounts the controversial history of Japanese public discourse around Hiroshima and Nagasaki—a discourse alternatively celebrated and censored—from August 6, 1945, to the present day. He includes works from the earliest survivor writers, including Hara Tamiki and Ota Yoko, to such important Japanese intellectuals today as Oe Kenzaburo and Oda Makoto. Treat argues that the insights of Japanese writers into the lessons of modern atrocity share much in common with those of Holocaust writers in Europe and the practitioners of recent poststructuralist nuclear criticism in America. In chapters that take up writers as diverse as Hiroshima poets, Tokyo critics, and Nagasaki women novelists, he explores the implications of these works for critical, literary, and cultural theory.

 

Non-fiction--Shachtman to Sloan

Shachtman, Tom.  Terrors and Marvels: How Science and Technology Changed the Character and Outcome of World War II (William Morrow and Company, 2002).

This penetrating and fascinating look at the link between science and warfare, focusing on the events of World War II, tells the whole story of the secret war carried on by engineers, physicists, chemists, and biologists, and the weapons they created.

 


Sheftall, M.G.  Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze (NAL Trade, 2005).

A compelling chronicle of men whose greatest desire was to die as warriors-and the legacy that still haunts those whose destinies were never fulfilled. In the last days of World War II, the Japanese unleashed a new breed of warrior-the Kamikaze, idealistic young men who believed there could be no greater glory than to sacrifice their lives in suicide attacks to defend their homeland. But what of those men who took the sacred oath to die-and lived? Soon after 9/11, ethnographer M.G. Sheftall was given unprecedented access to the cloistered community of Japan's last remaining Kamikaze corps survivors. The result is a poignant and unforgettable glimpse into the lives and mindsets of former Kamikaze pilots who never completed their final missions.


Shiotsuki, Masao.  Doctor at Nagasaki  (Tuttle Publishers, 1987).

In wartime, Japan, an idealistic young intern fresh from medical school is assgined to the very hospital to which many of the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki are brought. In Part One of this book, he relates his deeply moving account of the hellish days and weeks that followed as he and his colleagues struggled to help their patients survive. Part Two consists of essays written after the war as the author continues his struggle to awaken the medical community and the world at large to the terrible--and incurable—after effects of the atomic bomb.

 

Shirer, William L.  Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich (Simon & Schuster, Touchstone edition, 1990).

William L. Shirer's The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich is a monumental study of the 20th Century's most frightening moments. Now, 53 years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions, and way of life, were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer's description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.

Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, captured by the First Army, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his 6 year quest to dominate the world, only at the end, to see Germany go down in flames.

The combination of personal recollection and amassing of historical evidence distinguishes this book as one of the great historical works of any time. For instance, he recounts that, from his apartment in Plosslgasse, in Vienna, he personally witnessed how perhaps half of Vienna's 180,000 Jews bargained their way to freedom in 1938.

Shirer explains that Hitler believed that France and England were too weak to pose much of a threat to his ambitions to subjugate Czechoslovakia, and later Poland. The momentary relief of Russia as a threat to his domination of Europe as a result of the flurry of diplomatic activity that proceeded his invasion of Poland is fascinating. There is no relief, throughout his narrative, of the brutality of Hitler and such a large contingent of Germans who populate this narrative.

 

Shohno, Naomi.  The Legacy of Hiroshima: It's Past, Our Future (Kosei Publishing Company, 1996).  

With the threat of nuclear annihiliation looming over the human race, Legacy offers a message we cannot afford to ignore. The horrible effects of the bombing are explored from a dual perspective: 1) the human toll, and 2) the physical facts. The author closes with a plea for a daring new international vision that will make true peace—and the survival of the human race—a reality.

 

Showalter, Dennis.  Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century (Berkley Trade, Reprint edition, 2006).

General George S. Patton and General Erwin Rommel served their countries through two World Wars. Their temperaments, both on and off the battlefield, couldn't be further apart from each other-but their approaches to modern warfare were very similar.

Written by a prominent military historian, Patton and Rommel takes a provocative look at both figures, intertwining the stories of the paths they took and the decisions they made during the course of the Second World War-and compares the lives and careers of two men whose military tactics changed the course of history.

 

Sides, Hampton.  Ghost Soldiers (Anchor, 2002).

On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in the Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation. In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this daring raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides shows how the POWs banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and torture. Harrowing, poignant, and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.

 

Sledge, E.B.  With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (Presidio Press, 2007).

In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. Studs Terkel interviewed the author for his definitive oral history, The Good War. Now E. B. Sledge’s acclaimed first-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa returns to thrill, edify, and inspire a new generation.  An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division–3d Battalion, 5th Marines. Even after intense training, he was shocked to be thrown into the battle of Peleliu, where “the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets.” By the time Sledge hit the hell of Okinawa, he was a combat vet, still filled with fear but no longer with panic.  Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill–and came to love–his fellow man.

 

Sledge, E.B.  China Marine: An Infantryman's Life after World War II (Oxford University Press, 2003).

Hailed as "one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war" by acclaimed author Paul Fussell, With the Old Breed remains the most powerful and moving account of the U.S. Marines in World War II. Now, with his long-awaited sequel, China Marine, E. B. Sledge continues his story where With the Old Breed left off and recounts the compelling conclusion of his Marine career. After Japan's surrender in 1945, Sledge and his company were sent to China to maintain order and to calm the seething cauldron of political and ideological unrest created by opposing factions. His regiment was the first Marine unit to return to the ancient city of Peiping (now Beijing) where they witnessed the last of old China and the rise of the Communist state. Sledge also recounts the difficulty of returning to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and resuming civilian life while haunted by shadows of close combat. Through the discipline of writing and the study of biology, Sledge shows how he came to terms with the terrifying memories that had plagued him for years. Poignant and compelling, China Marine provides a frank depiction of the real costs of war, emotional and psychological as well as physical, and reveals the enduring bond that develops between men who face the horrors of war.

 

Sloan, Bill.  The Ultimate Battle (Simon and Schuster, 2007).

The Ultimate Battle is the full story of the last great clash of World War II as it has never before been told. With the same "grunt's-eye-view" narrative style that distinguished his Brotherhood of Heroes (on the Battle of Peleliu), Bill Sloan presents a gripping and uniquely personal saga of heroism and sacrifice in which at least 115,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from both sides were killed, as were nearly 150,000 civilians caught in the crossfire or encouraged to commit suicide by Japanese troops. 

It is a story set against a panorama of more than 1,500 American ships, nearly two thousand Japanese kamikazes sworn to sink those ships, and two huge armies locked in a no-quarter struggle to the death -- the 541,000 GIs and Marines of the U.S. Tenth Army, and Japan's 110,000-man 32nd Army. Woven into the broader narrative, in Band of Brothers style, are the personal stories of men who endured this epic battle and were interviewed by the author. In many cases, their experiences are told here in print for the first time. 

A few days after Japanese defenders surprised American assault troops by allowing them to land virtually unopposed on April 1, 1945, scouts of the 96th Division stumbled onto the outerworks of formidable Japanese defenses near Kakazu Ridge, where fierce fighting erupted. It would continue without respite for nearly three months as American forces used every weapon and strategy at their disposal to break through three cunningly designed Japanese lines of defense, each anchored by commanding high ground, intricate underground installations, and massed artillery. When one line was about to be breached, the Japanese would slip away to the next one, forcing the Americans to repeat the same exhausting and deadly "corkscrew and blowtorch" assaults all over again. 

Much of the action in The Ultimate Battle unfolds among men pinned down under relentless fire on disputed hillsides, in the ruins of shell-blasted villages, and inside stricken tanks and armored cars. Sloan also takes readers aboard flaming ships and into the cockpits of night-fighter aircraft to capture the horror and heroism of men and vessels besieged by kamikazes. 

When the battle was over, most of the GIs, Marines, and sailors who survived it were too worn out to celebrate. More than 49,000 of their comrades had been killed or wounded, and they knew that the even more brutal invasion of Japan's home islands loomed just ahead. But as Sloan makes clear, the slaughter at Okinawa helped to convince President Truman to use the atomic bomb against Japanese cities in the hope of shortening the war and averting a far more horrific loss of life.

 

Sloan, Bill.  Brotherhood of Heroes (Simon and Schuster, 2006).

"A Band of Brothers for the Pacific, this is the gut-wrenching but ultimately triumphant story of the Marines' most ferocious—yet largely forgotten—battle of World War II. Between September 15 and October 15, 1944, the First Marine Division suffered more than 6,500 casualties fighting on a hellish little coral island in the Pacific. Peleliu was the scene of one of the most savage no-quarter struggles of modern times, one that has been all but forgotten—until now. Drawing on extensive interviews with Marine veterans, Bill Sloan follows a small group of young Americans through this incredibly vicious campaign and rescues their heroism on Peleliu from obscurity. Misled by faulty intelligence, the 9,000 Marine infantrymen who landed on Peleliu's beaches under withering enemy fire found themselves facing 11,000 Japanese embedded in an intricate network of caves and underground fortifications unrivaled in the history of warfare. At the heart of the Japanese defensive system was a maze of sheer cliffs and deep ravines known collectively as the Umurbrogol plateau. Endless strings of ridges bristled with concealed artillery, mortars, machine guns, and riflemen, making every inch of contested ground a potential death trap for Marines. Making matters worse, Japanese soldiers had been told by their commanders that they were to hold Peleliu at any cost in a suicidal defense of the island. Sloan's gripping narrative seamlessly weaves together the experiences of the men who were there, producing a vivid and unflinching tableau of the twenty-four-hour-a-day nightmare of Peleliu—a melee of nonstop infantry attacks, ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, night assaults, and exhausting forced marches in temperatures that topped 115 degrees. With casualties in some infantry units averaging more than sixty percent, Peleliu ranks with the bloodiest battles in the Corps' history. Exemplifying these staggering losses was K Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (K/3/5), on whose gallant officers and enlisted men the narrative focuses from the initial assault on the beaches to the horrific struggle for the Umurbrogol's crags and crevices. Surprisingly, Peleliu received little public notice back in the States even as it was being fought and was virtually forgotten after the war, despite elements of controversy that are still debated by military strategists today. The invasion was ordered by Army General Douglas MacArthur to protect his flank as he launched his campaign to recapture the Philippines. But many experts believed then—and still maintain today—that the bloodshed at Peleliu was needless and that the island could have been safely bypassed. In Brotherhood of Heroes, readers witness the brutal spectacle of Peleliu close-up through the eyes of the Marines who fought there. Their story will stand with Ghost Soldiers and Flags of Our Fathers as a modern classic in military history and a riveting read."

 

 

Non-fiction--Sakai to Senesh

Sakai, Saburo and Martin Caldin.  Samurai! (I Books, 2001).

Written by Martin Caidin from Saburo Sakai's own memoirs and journalist Fred Saito's extensive interviews with the World War II fighter pilot, Samurai! vividly documents the chivalry and valor of the combat aviator who time after time fought American fighter pilots and, with 64 kills, would survive the war as Japan's greatest living ace. Here are the harrowing experiences of one of Japan's greatest aces: from fighter pilot school -- where the harsh training expelled over half of his class -- to the thrilling early Japanese victories; from his incredible six hundred mile fight for life from Guadalcanal to his base in Rabaul, to the poignant story of the now-handicapped veteran's return to the air during the final desperate months of World War II.

 

Samuel, Wolfgang W.E.  The War of Our Childhood: Memories of World War II (University Press of Mississippi, 2002).

These poignant memories by 27 German survivors of World War II relate how as children--ages 3 to 12--they endured air raids, hunger, terror, invading armies, and deprivation. Samuel tells of their resilience under the most trying circumstances and the critical role their mothers played in their lives. Samuel, a survivor himself and author of German Boy: A Refugee's Story (2000), relates that during the course of his interviews he encountered no one wanting revenge, and no one expressing a hate or dislike of people of other nations or ethnic groups because of events that happened long ago. He found that many of them are still troubled by the sounds, sights, or smells that remind them of war, bringing back the dark moments of childhood, and that few have shared completely their memories with their children.  (George Cohen for Booklist)

 

Satloff, Robert.  Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands (Public Affairs, 2006).

Thousands of people have been honored for saving Jews during the Holocaust-but not a single Arab. Looking for a hopeful response to the plague of Holocaust denial sweeping across the Arab and Muslim worlds, Robert Satloff sets off on a quest to find the Arab hero whose story will change the way Arabs view Jews, themselves, and their own history. 

The story of the Holocaust's long reach into the Arab world is difficult to uncover, covered up by desert sands and desert politics. We follow Satloff over four years, through eleven countries, from the barren wasteland of the Sahara, where thousands of Jews were imprisoned in labor camps; through the archways of the Mosque in Paris, which may once have hidden 1700 Jews; to the living rooms of octogenarians in London, Paris and Tunis. The story is very cinematic; the characters are rich and handsome, brave and cowardly; there are heroes and villains. The most surprising story of all is why, more than sixty years after the end of the war, so few people—Arab and Jew—want this story told. 

 

Schmidt, Ulf.  Karl Brandt: The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich (Hambledon & London, 2007).

Sixty years after the Nuremberg trials, interest in the leading figures of the Third Reich continues unabated. Here, Ulf Schmidt recounts the meteoric rise of one of Hitler's most trusted advisers, Karl Brandt.  As Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation, Karl Brandt became the highest medical authority in the Nazi regime. He was entrusted with the killing of handicapped children and adults—the so-called `Euthanasia' Program—and played a part in illegal medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. What drove a rational, highly cultured, idealistic and talented young medic to become responsible for mass murder and criminal human experimentation on a previously unimaginable scale? This riveting biography explores in detail the level of culpability of one of the most intriguing of the Nuremberg Nazis. Ulf Schmidt presents an incisive study of Brandt's political power as a way of exploring the contradictions of Nazi medicine in which the care for wounded civilians and soldiers existed side by side with the murder of tens of thousands of unwanted people. Brandt's eventual capture and trial at Nuremberg in 1947 is also described in detail. 

 

Scholl, Inge.  The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943 (Wesleyan Press, 1983).

The White Rose tells the story of Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, who in 1942 led a small underground organization of German students and professors to oppose the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazi Party. They named their group the White Rose, and they distributed leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime. Sophie, Hans, and a third student were caught and executed.

Written by Inge Scholl (Han's and Sophie's sister), The White Rose features letters, diary excerpts, photographs of Hans and Sophie, transcriptions of the leaflets, and accounts of the trial and execution. This is a gripping account of courage and morality.

 

Schorer, Avis D.  A Half Acre of Hell (Galde Press, 2000).

Lt. Avis Schorer served with an evacuation hospital in North Africa and Italy. Heartache, loneliness, and danger were constant companions while caring for the severely wounded. She and 25 others were the first to land on the Anzio beachhead. Constantly bombarded by German shells and bombs, the hospital on the beach was soon dubbed Hell s Half Acre.

 

Segre, Gino.  Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics (Viking, 2007).

Known by physicists as the “miracle year,” 1932 saw the discovery of the neutron and the first artificially induced nuclear transmutation. However, while physicists celebrated these momentous discoveries—which presaged the era of big science and nuclear bombs—Europe was moving inexorably toward totalitarianism and war. In April of that year, about forty of the world’s leading physicists—including Werner Heisenberg, Lise Meitner, and Paul Dirac—came to Niels Bohr’s Copenhagen Institute for their annual informal meeting about the frontiers of physics. 

Physicist Gino Segrè brings to life this historic gathering, which ended with a humorous skit based on Goethe’s Faust—a skit that eerily foreshadowed events that would soon unfold. Little did the scientists know the Faustian bargains they would face in the near future. Capturing the interplay between the great scientists as well as the discoveries they discussed and debated, Segrè evokes the moment when physics—and the world—was about to lose its innocence.

 

Sekimori, Gaynor (Translator).  Hibakusha: Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Charles E Tuttle Co., 1989).

This book's 25 firsthand accounts by hibakusha—survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945—constitute and indictment of nuclear weapons far more eloquent than any polemic. The Writers represent a cross section of the bombs' victims: soldiers, doctors and nurses, students, housewives, small chldren, Koreans brought to Japan for forced labor—even victims yet unborn.  The work includes 16 pages of historic photos taken after the bombings and 8 pages of photos of survivors today.

 

Selden, Kyoko and Mark Selden. The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (M.E. Sharpe, 1997).

Many accounts, personal and secondary, have been written by and about the victims of the atomic bombs, the best known being John Hersey's. Following an essay which discusses (and indicts) the decisions to drop the bombs, the Seldens have assembled literary expressions, factual and fictional, written by those who experienced the world's only nuclear warfare. The testimony appears in the form of "Novellas," "Poetry," a "Photo Essay," "Citizens' Memoirs," "Pictures by Atomic Bomb Survivors" (not available for review), and "Children's Voices." As the editors assert, these voices " . . . merit careful listening," but their graphic descriptions of unimaginable horrors challenge both stomach and conscience. (Kenneth W. Berger, Duke University,  for Library Journal)

 

Shelden, Mark.  The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (M.E. Sharpe, 1997).

Many accounts, personal and secondary, have been written by and about the victims of the atomic bombs, the best known being John Hersey's Hiroshima ( LJ 11/1/46; 9/15/85 rev. ed.). Following an essay which discusses (and indicts) the decisions to drop the bombs, the Seldens have assembled literary expressions, factual and fictional, written by those who experienced the world's only nuclear warfare. The testimony appears in the form of "Novellas," "Poetry," a "Photo Essay," "Citizens' Memoirs," "Pictures by Atomic Bomb Survivors" (not available for review), and "Children's Voices." As the editors assert, these voices " . . . merit careful listening," but their graphic descriptions of unimaginable horrors challenge both stomach and conscience.   (Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.)

 

Senesh, Hannah.  Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004).

During her brief life, 1921-1944, Hannah Senesh became a national hero in Israel. Her diary begins in 1933 in her native Budapest. In the midst of entries about school, boys, and travel, her growing awareness of herself as a Zionist emerges; while she is learning Hebrew and making plans to move to Palestine, thoughts on the impending war pepper her writing. In 1939, she moves to Palestine to attend the Girl's Agricultural School and work on a kibbutz. That same year, World War II is formally declared. Hannah feels powerless in the face of its horrors: "We can do nothing else; we're forbidden to take action, though there is certainly a difference between passivity and inactivity." But she volunteers, the only female, for a parachute troop with a secret mission to land behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia, sneak into occupied Hungary, and warn the Jewish population, including her mother, of their imminent fate. Tension is strong in her last letter, penned the day she parachutes into Yugoslavia. The next section of the book is written by two fellow parachuters who provide more details about their mission and portray Hannah Senesh as a brave, wise, and compassionate woman. The last section is written by her mother, imprisoned in Budapest when Hannah was captured and brought to the same jail, where Hannah was tortured and died at age twenty-three. (Reviewed by Holly Smith for 500 Great Books by Women)

 

Non-Fiction-- Rommel to Ryan

Rommel, Erwin.  The Rommel Papers (Da Capo Press,1982).

When Erwin Rommel died by forced suicide at Hitler’s command he left behind in various ingenious hiding places the papers that recorded the story of his dramatic career and the exact details of his masterly campaigns. It was his custom to dictate each evening a running narrative of the days events and, after each battle, to summarize its course and the lessons to be learned from it. He wrote, almost daily, intimate and outspoken letters to his wife in which his private feelings and after the tide had turned forebodings found expression. To this is added by Rommels son Manfred the story of the Field Marshall’s last weeks and the final day when he was given the choice of an honorable suicide or an ignominious trial for treason. An engrossing human document and a rare look at the mind of the Desert Fox, The Rommel Papers throws an interesting light on the Axis alliance and on the inner workings of Hitler’s high command.

 

Rose, Paul Lawrence.  Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project (University of California Press, New edition, 2001).  

No one better represents the plight and the conduct of German intellectuals under Hitler than Werner Heisenberg, whose task it was to build an atomic bomb for Nazi Germany. The controversy surrounding Heisenberg still rages, because of the nature of his work and the regime for which it was undertaken. What precisely did Heisenberg know about the physics of the atomic bomb? How deep was his loyalty to the German government during the Third Reich? Assuming that he had been able to build a bomb, would he have been willing? These questions, the moral and the scientific, are answered by Paul Lawrence Rose with greater accuracy and breadth of documentation than any other historian has yet achieved.

Digging deep into the archival record among formerly secret technical reports, Rose establishes that Heisenberg never overcame certain misconceptions about nuclear fission, and as a result the German leaders never pushed for atomic weapons. In fact, Heisenberg never had to face the moral problem of whether he should design a bomb for the Nazi regime. Only when he and his colleagues were interned in England and heard about Hiroshima did Heisenberg realize that his calculations were wrong. He began at once to construct an image of himself as a "pure" scientist who could have built a bomb but chose to work on reactor design instead. This was fiction, as Rose demonstrates: in reality, Heisenberg blindly supported and justified the cause of German victory. The question of why he did, and why he misrepresented himself afterwards, is answered through Rose's subtle analysis of German mentality and the scientists' problems of delusion and self-delusion. This fascinating study is a profound effort to understand one of the twentieth century's great enigmas.

 

Roseman, Mark.  The Wansee Conference (Metropolitan Books, 2002).

In early 1947, American officials in Germany stumbled across a document. Entitled "Secret Reich matter," it summarized the results of a meeting of top Nazi officials that took place on January 20, 1942, in a grand villa on the shore of Berlin's Lake Wannsee.

On one level, this document offered clarity: known as the Wannsee Protocol (and included here in full), it tallied up the Jews in Europe, carefully classified half and quarter Jews, and above all laid the groundwork for a "final solution to the Jewish Question." Yet the Protocol, among the most shameful documents in history, remains deeply mysterious. How can we understand this businesslike discussion of genocide? And why was the meeting necessary? Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been shot in Russia or gassed in the camp at Chelmno. Test murders had been carried out in Auschwitz. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the Wannsee Conference, is that we do not know why it took place.

 

Rosenbaum, Ron.  Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (Harper Perennial, 1999).

When Hitler's war ended in 1945, the war over Hitler—who he really was, what gave birth to his unique evil—had just begun. Hitler did not escape the bunker in Berlin but, half a century later, he has managed to escape explanation in ways both frightening and profound. Explaining Hitler is an extraordinary quest, an expedition into the war zone of Hitler theories. This is a passionate, enthralling book that illuminates what Hitler explainers tell us about Hitler, about the explainers, and about ourselves.

 

Rubenstein, Joshua and Ilya Altman.  The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories (Indiana University Press, 2007).

The Unknown Black Book provides, for the first time in English, a revelatory compilation of testimonies from Jews who survived open-air massacres and other atrocities carried out by the Germans and their allies in the occupied Soviet territories during World War II. These documents, from residents of cities, small towns, and rural areas, are first-hand accounts by survivors of work camps, ghettos, forced marches, beatings, starvation, and disease. Collected under the direction of two renowned Soviet Jewish journalists, Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg, they tell of Jews who lived in pits, walled-off corners of apartments, attics, and basement dugouts, unable to emerge due to fear that their neighbors would betray them, which often occurred.

 

 

 

Ryan, Cornelius.  The Last Battle (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1995).

The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come. 

The Last Battle is Cornelius Ryan's compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate imperatives of survival, where, as the author describes it, "to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to exist more militarily correct than to win." The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.

 

Ryan, Cornelius.  A Bridge Too Far (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1995).

A Bridge Too Far is Cornelius Ryan's masterly chronicle of the Battle of Arnhem, which marshalled the greatest armada of troop-carrying aircraft ever assembled and cost the Allies nearly twice as many casualties as D-Day. In this compelling work of history, Ryan narrates the Allied effort to end the war in Europe in 1944 by dropping the combined airborne forces of the American and British armies behind German lines to capture the crucial bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem. Focusing on a vast cast of characters—from Dutch civilians to British and American strategists to common soldiers and commanders –Ryan brings to life one of the most daring and ill-fated operations of the war. A Bridge Too Far superbly recreates the terror and suspense, the heroism and tragedy of this epic operation, which ended in bitter defeat for the Allies.

 

Ryan, Cornelius.  The Longest Day (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1994).

The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan's unsurpassed account of D-Day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

 

Non-Fiction-- Rawlinson to Roberts


Rawlinson, Mark.  British Writing of the Second World War (Oxford University Press, 2000).

British Writing of the Second World War is the first study to provide a detailed critical and historical survey of British literary culture in wartime. Concerned as much with war as with writing, it explores the significance of cultural representations of violence to the administration of the war effort. A theoretical account of the symbolic practices which connect military violence to policy provides a framework for analysing imaginative and documentary literature in its relations both to propaganda and to Peoples War ideals of social reconstruction. The book evaluates wartime fictions and memoirs in the context of official and unofficial discourses about military aviation, the Blitz, campaigns in North Africa, war aims, the conscript Army and the Home Front, Prisoners of War, and the Holocaust. It uncovers the processes by which the meanings the war had for participants were produced, and provides an extensive bibliographical resource for future scholarship.

 

Reese, Willy Peter.  A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).

A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War, Russia 1941-44 is the haunting memoir of a young German soldier on the Russian front during World War II. Willy Peter Reese was only twenty years old when he found himself marching through Russia with orders to take no prisoners. Three years later he was dead. Bearing witness to--and participating in--the atrocities of war, Reese recorded his reflections in his diary, leaving behind an intelligent, touching, and illuminating perspective on life on the eastern front. He documented the carnage perpetrated by both sides, the destruction which was exacerbated by the young soldiers' hunger, frostbite, exhaustion, and their daily struggle to survive. And he wrestled with his own sins, with the realization that what he and his fellow soldiers had done to civilians and enemies alike was unforgivable, with his growing awareness of the Nazi policies toward Jews, and with his deep disillusionment with himself and his fellow men.

 

Reeves, Richard.  Daring Young Men (Simon and Schuster, 2010).

In the early hours of June 26, 1948, phones began ringing across America, waking up the airmen of World War II -- pilots, navigators, and mechanics -- who were finally beginning normal lives with new houses, new jobs, new wives, and new babies. Some were given just forty-eight hours to report to local military bases. The president, Harry S. Truman, was recalling them to active duty to try to save the desperate people of the western sectors of Berlin, the enemy capital many of them had bombed to rubble only three years before.

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had ordered a blockade of the city, isolating the people of West Berlin, using hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers to close off all land and water access to the city. He was gambling that he could drive out the small detachments of American, British, and French occupation troops, because their only option was to stay and watch Berliners starve -- or retaliate by starting World War III. The situation was impossible, Truman was told by his national security advisers, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His answer: "We stay in Berlin. Period." That was when the phones started ringing and local police began banging on doors to deliver telegrams to the vets.

Drawing on service records and hundreds of interviews in the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, Reeves tells the stories of these civilian airmen, the successors to Stephen Ambrose's "Citizen Soldiers," ordinary Americans again called to extraordinary tasks. They did the impossible, living in barns and muddy tents, flying over Soviet-occupied territory day and night, trying to stay awake, making it up as they went along and ignoring Russian fighters and occasional anti-aircraft fire trying to drive them to hostile ground.

The Berlin Airlift changed the world. It ended when Stalin backed down and lifted the blockade, but only after the bravery and sense of duty of those young heroes had bought the Allies enough time to create a new West Germany and sign the mutual defense agreement that created NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 

Reid, Brian A.  No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944 (Robin Brass Studio, 2004).

"We have to risk everything. A breakthrough has occurred near Caen the like of which we have never seen." That stark assessment on 8 August 1944 reflected the German reaction to Operation Totalize, the first attack mounted by First Canadian Army in World War II. Nine days later Canadian infantry rooted out the last German defenders of Falaise, but thousands had escaped from Normandy to fight again. That Totalize and Tractable, its successor, failed to trap the Germans in Normandy has been the subject of controversy for sixty years. In this book, Brian Reidhas undertaken the first detailed study of Totalize and Tractable, including an examination of the part played by both land and air forces in the battles.

 

Reid, Constance Bowman and Clara Marie Allen.  Slacks and Calluses (Smithsonian, 2004).

In 1943 two spirited young teachers decided to do their part for the war effort by spending their summer vacation working the swing shift on a B-24 production line at a San Diego bomber plant. Entering a male-dominated realm of welding torches and bomb bays, they learned to use tools that they had never seen before, live with aluminum shavings in their hair, and get along with supervisors and coworkers from all walks of life. And they learned that wearing their factory slacks on the street caused men to treat them in a way for which their "dignified schoolteacher-hood" hadn't prepared them. At times charming, hilarious, and incredibly perceptive, Slacks and Calluses brings into focus an overlooked part of the war effort, one that forever changed the way the women were viewed in America. 

 

Reynolds, E. Bruce.  Thailand's Secret War: OSS, SOE and the Free Thai Underground During World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Despite its 1941 alliance with Japan, Thai leaders managed to establish clandestine relations with China, Britain and the United States, each of which had ambitions for postwar influence in Bangkok. Based largely on recently declassified intelligence records, this narrative history thoroughly explores these relations, details Allied secret operations and sheds new light on the intense rivalry between the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

 

Rhodes, Richard.  Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (Simon and Schuster, 1996).

Here, for the first time, in a brilliant, panoramic portrait by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, is the definitive, often shocking story of the politics and the science behind the development of the hydrogen bomb and the birth of the Cold War. Based on secret files in the United States and the former Soviet Union, this monumental work of history discloses how and why the United States decided to create the bomb that would dominate world politics for more than forty years.

 

Rhodes, Richard.  Masters of Death (Vintage 2003).

In Masters of Death, Rhodes gives full weight, for the first time, to the Einsatzgruppen’s role in the Holocaust. These “special task forces,” organized by Heinrich Himmler to follow the German army as it advanced into eastern Poland and Russia, were the agents of the first phase of the Final Solution. They murdered more than 1.5 million men, women, and children between 1941 and 1943, often by shooting them into killing pits, as at Babi Yar.

These massive crimes have been generally overlooked or underestimated by Holocaust historians, who have focused on the gas chambers. In this painstaking account, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes profiles the eastern campaign’s architects as well as its “ordinary” soldiers and policemen, and helps us understand how such men were conditioned to carry out mass murder. Marshaling a vast array of documents and the testimony of perpetrators and survivors, this book is an essential contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust and World War II.

 

Ringlesbach, Dorthy.  OSS: Stories that Can Now be Told (AuthorHouse, 2005).

Have you heard about Raunchy? Who was he? Or how about the night the Cabbie sold two greenhorns cold tea in place of scotch? These are just two examples of why you should read this book You will not only find out more about the two above incidents, but you will also understand why the people in the OSS are still reluctant to talk much about those years. Why was there very little known about this group until much later after the war ended and this information was declassified? What made it the best-kept secret of WWII? Read this book and find out more about the OSS and what made it the best-kept secret.

 

Roberts, Geoffrey.  Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 (Yale University Press, 2007).

This breakthrough book provides a detailed reconstruction of Stalin’s leadership from the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 to his death in 1953. Making use of a wealth of new material from Russian archives, Geoffrey Roberts challenges a long list of standard perceptions of Stalin: his qualities as a leader; his relationships with his own generals and with other great world leaders; his foreign policy; and his role in instigating the Cold War. While frankly exploring the full extent of Stalin’s brutalities and their impact on the Soviet people, Roberts also uncovers evidence leading to the stunning conclusion that Stalin was both the greatest military leader of the twentieth century and a remarkable politician who sought to avoid the Cold War and establish a long-term detente with the capitalist world.
By means of an integrated military, political, and diplomatic narrative, the author draws a sustained and compelling personal portrait of the Soviet leader. The resulting picture is fascinating and contradictory, and it will inevitably change the way we understand Stalin and his place in history. Roberts depicts a despot who helped save the world for democracy, a personal charmer who disciplined mercilessly, a utopian ideologue who could be a practical realist, and a warlord who undertook the role of architect of post-war peace.

 

Pages

Subscribe to Voices in Wartime