Voices in Wartime

Non-Fiction--Bonisch to Brooks

Bonisch, Fred.  Children of Our Own War (Authorhouse, 2006).

From the Writer: “It is 1943 and the big war in Europe is now in its fourth year. The Allies have begun to take the fight to Germany, and bombing raids on German cities are now an almost daily and nightly occurrence. As cities are being destroyed, panic-stricken survivors are frantically searching for relatives to find shelter with. Refugees, driven out of recently occupied Russian territories in the east, are now arriving with only small pieces of luggage as their only possessions and they are in desperate need of places to stay. Our small house, which we already shared with another family, soon nearly doubles its occupancy as desperate relatives in need of shelter kept arriving. All eligible men are away fighting at one of Hitler's many fronts. The overwhelming need to support this effort has left the country drained of nearly everything and has forced mothers alone to protect and provide for their families during this most difficult period of history. Fear, hunger, and the struggle to survive have become a way of life. As children we did not always understand the serious time in which we lived, however, we learned to assess the fear from the expressions on our mother's faces, especially so during the frequent air raids. Often it was their despair that we quietly observed while they struggled with the constant inability to adequately provide for their families. In late1943, my family received the news that Dad had recently become a prisoner of war. By late1944, it became clear that Germany was losing the war. Fear that Russian troops would reach our area ahead of American or British forces became the real concern now. Just days prior to Germany's capitulation, our occupation occurred, and this eventwould forever remain in my memory and directly affect much of my young life. The events, as described, were real and have been written as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Following our liberation, we came to realize the enormous atrocities that had occurred and learned of people whose suffering had been far greater than ours, and to those people I wish to offer my deepest respect.”


Bradley, James.  The Imperial Cruise (Little, Brown and Co., 2009).

In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft on the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in history to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea. Roosevelt's glamorous twenty-one year old daughter Alice served as mistress of the cruise, which included senators and congressmen. On this trip, Taft concluded secret agreements in Roosevelt's name.

In 2005, a century later, James Bradley traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's mission and discovered what had transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing and Seoul.  In 1905, Roosevelt was bully-confident and made secret agreements that he though would secure America's westward push into the Pacific. Instead, he lit the long fuse on the Asian firecrackers that would singe America's hands for a century and set the stage for WWII.


Bradley, James.  Flags of Our Fathers (Bantam, 2006).

The picture of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima in 1945 may be the most famous photograph of the twentieth century. Its fame was immediate, and immediately hitched to the wagon of publicity. The president summoned home the soldiers pictured to promote the government's final bond drive of World War II. After some confusion, the men were identified, but only three of the six flag-raisers survived the Battle of Iwo Jima. The survivors became celebrities. Bradley, the son of corpsman John Bradley, probes the nature of heroism--its appearance versus the reality. The reality was what happened on Iwo Jima: an 84 percent casualty rate inflicted on the flag-raisers' unit, Company E of the Second Battalion of the Twenty-eighth Regiment of the Fifth Division of the U.S. Marine Corps. In the course of his narrative, Bradley reconstructs Easy Company's war, starting with background material on the men, proceeding to their enlistment in the marines (the navy, in Bradley's case), training, landing on Iwo Jima, and fighting for Mount Suribachi, capped by the fluke of the photograph. The artifice of the bond drive elevated the survivors, who regarded their actions (if they spoke of them at all) as unworthy of being elevated above those of the marines who died. A riveting read that deals with every detail of the photograph--its composition, the biographies of the men, what heroism is, and the dubious blessings of fame.  (Gilbert Taylor for Booklist)


Bradley, James.  Flyboys (Little, Brown and Company, 2003).

Flyboys is the true story of eight young American airmen who were shot down over Chichi Jima.Seven of these young men were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. One was rescued by an American submarine and went on to become president. The reality of what happened to the seven prisoners has remained a secret for almost 60 years. After the war, the American and Japanese governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth. Not even the families of the airmen were informed what had happened to their sons. It has remained a mystery-until now. Critics called James Bradley's last book “the best book on battle ever written.”  Flyboys is even better: more ambitious, more powerful, and more moving. On the island of Chichi Jima those young men would face the ultimate test. Their story-a tale of courage and daring, of war and of death, of men and of hope-will make you proud, and it will break your heart.


Braithwaite, Rodric.  Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War (Vintage, 2007).

The defense of the Soviet capital against the German invasion of 1941 is cast in this history against the ordinary Muscovite's call to arms. Braithwaite, formerly a British ambassador in Moscow in the late 1980s, focuses on firsthand experiences that capture the difficulties of living, both materially and psychologically, in the atmosphere of Stalinism. The German attack produced widespread dread, both for what the Nazis portended and, more immediately, the draconian reintensification of Stalin's terror. The dictator also appealed to patriotism, however, and the author probes the motivations of Moscow's students, workers, artists, and professionals in joining military units, confirming that not everyone signed up under the gun. Personal stories in the dozens fit into Braithwaite's chronicle of the German bid for the capital, which reached Moscow's outskirts and provoked panic before being repulsed at horrendous cost in December 1941. Conversantly connected to his interviewees and to documentary sources, Braithwaite delivers a tragically human Moscow of 1941, victorious but traumatized. (Gilbert Taylor for Booklist)


Brandt, Nat.  Harlem at War (Syracuse University Press, 1996).

This misleadingly titled book concerns not only Harlem but also the experience of all black America during WWII, as well as the political and social conditions that fueled the Harlem riot of 1943, a harbinger of urban riots in the 1960s and beyond. Brandt (Massacre at Shansi) has capably synthesized a broad range of sources and added several interviews to portray a shameful aspect of our not-so-distant past. He first sketches the racial discrimination and economic ills prevalent in New York's largest black community in the 1920s and '30s. Such conditions, duplicated around the country, meant that black Americans were acutely aware of the hypocrisy involved in fighting Nazi Germany while still tolerating Jim Crow, both at home and in the armed forces. In fact, racial clashes took place at military bases, at defense plants and in the cities. A white-on-black riot in Detroit led to a tepid official response. And when a black soldier was shot by a white cop in Harlem, the neighborhood suffered six deaths, nearly 700 injuries and property damage of $5 million. Ending prophetically, Brandt states that the city "is ignoring" Harlem again and "the community is neglected."  (Publishers Weekly)


Brey, Ilaria Dagnini.  The Venus Fixers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009).

In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionaries—civilians and soldiers alike—saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasn’t the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.

In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers—a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists—to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed “the Venus Fixers” by bemused troops.

Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could; when trucks could not be requisitioned or “borrowed,” a Tiepolo altarpiece might make its midnight journey across the countryside balanced in the front basket of a bicycle. They blocked a Nazi convoy of two hundred stolen paintings—including Danae, Titian’s voluptuous masterpiece, an intended birthday present for Hermann Göring.They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didn’t take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks, exposing their frescoed interiors to the harsh Tuscan winters and blistering summers. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italy’s artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.

In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertaining—a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.


Bryant. Michael S.  Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953 (University Press of Colorado, 2005).

Years before Hitler unleashed the "Final Solution" to annihilate European Jews, he began a lesser-known campaign to eradicate the mentally ill, which facilitated the gassing and lethal injection of as many as 270,000 people and set a precedent for the Nazis' mass murder of civilians. 

In Confronting the "Good Death," Michael Bryant tells the story of the U.S. government and West German judiciary's attempt to punish the euthanasia killers after the war. His fascinating work is the first to address the impact of geopolitics on the courts' representation of Nazi euthanasia, revealing how international power relationships played havoc with the prosecutions. Drawing on primary sources and extensive research in archives in Germany and the U.S., Bryant offers a provocative investigation of the Nazi campaign against the mentally ill and the postwar quest for justice. His work will interest general readers and provide critical information for scholars of Holocaust studies, legal history, and human rights. 


Breuer, William B.  Secret Weapons of World War II (Wiley, 2002).

Secret Weapons takes a fascinating look at the clandestine battle between the brilliant scientists and code breakers of the Allies and the Axis powers. Filled with over seventy tales of ingenious technological innovations, Secret Weapons Of World War II focuses on the human drama of the men and women involved, many of whom were as eccentric as they were brilliant. In a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes duel between the scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and technicians on both sides, Breuer tells of the ingenious weapons that were crucial to winning the war--from radar, huff-duff (high frequency direction finding), and invisible radio beams to secret codes, electronic guidance systems, homing devices, and submarine detection equipment. Vivid, fast-paced, and suspenseful, Secret Weapons of World War II captures the high-wire tension as enemies race to harness new technologies to create powerful secret weapons and devices that turned the tide of the war.


Brooks, Geoffrey.  Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross (Pen and Sword, 2006).

Josef "Sepp" Allerberger was the second most successful sniper of the German Wehrmacht and one of the few private soldiers to be honoured with the award of the Knight's Cross.  An Austrian conscript, after qualifying as a machine gunner he was drafted to the southern sector of the Russian Front in July 1942. Wounded at Voroshilovsk, he experimented with a Russian sniper-rifle while convalescing and so impressed his superiors with his proficiency that he was returned to the front on his regiment's only sniper specialist. In this sometimes harrowing memoir, Allerberger provides an excellent introduction to the commitment in fieldcraft, discipline and routine required of the sniper, a man apart. There was no place for chivalry on the Russian Front. Away from the film cameras, no prisoner survived long after surrendering. Russian snipers had used the illegal explosive bullet since 1941, and Hitler eventually authorised its issue in 1944. The result was a battlefield of horror.  Allerberger was a cold-blooded killer, but few will find a place in their hearts for the soldiers of the Red Army against whom he fought.


Non-Fiction--Anonymous to Axell

Anonymous.  A Woman in Berlin (Picador, Reprint edition, 2006).

For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. Spare, unpredictable, minutely observed, and utterly free of self-pity (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity as well as their cravenness. And with bald honesty and brutal lyricism (Elle), she tells of the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject. A Woman in Berlin is, to quote A. S. Byatt, essential, and a classic of war literature. The anonymous author was a young woman at the time of the fall of Berlin. She was a journalist and editor during and after the war.


Appelfeld, Aharon.  All Whom I Have Loved (Schocken, 2007).

The haunting story of a Jewish family in Eastern Europe in the 1930s that prefigures the fate of the Jews during World War II.  At the center is nine-year-old Paul Rosenfeld, the beloved only child of divorced parents, through whose eyes we view a dissolving, increasingly chaotic world. Initially, Paul lives with his mother–a secular, assimilated schoolteacher, who he adores until she “betrays” him by marrying the gentile André. He is then sent to live with his father–once an admired avant-garde artist, but now reviled by the critics as a “decadent Jew,” who drowns his anger, pain, and humiliation in drink. Paul searches in vain for stability and meaning in a world that is collapsing around him, but his love for the earthy peasant girl who briefly takes care of him, the strange pull he feels towards the Jews praying in the synagogue near his home, and the fascination with which he observes Eastern Orthodox church rituals merely give him tantalizing glimpses into worlds of which he can never be a part.

The fates that Paul’s parents will meet with Paul as terrified witness–his mother, deserted by her new husband and dying of typhus; his father, gunned down while trying to stop the robbery of a Jewish-owned shop–and his own fate as an orphaned Jewish child alone in Europe in 1938 are rendered with extraordinary subtlety and power, as they foreshadow, in the heart-wrenching story of three individuals, the cataclysm that is about to engulf all of European Jewry.


Ascheid, Antje.  Hitler's Heroines: Stardom and Womanhood in Nazi Cinema (Temple University Press, 2003).

German film-goers flocked to see musicals and melodramas during the Nazi era. Although the Nazis seemed to require that every aspect of ordinary life advance the fascist project, even the most popular films depicted characters and desires that deviated from the politically correct ideal. Probing into the contradictory images of womanhood that surfaced in these films, Antje Ascheid shows how Nazi heroines negotiated the gender conflicts that confronted contemporary women. 

The careers of Kristina Soderbaum, Lilian Harvey, and Zarah Leander speak to the Nazis' need to address and contain the "woman question," to redirect female subjectivity and desires to self sacrifice for the common good (i.e., national socialism). Hollywood's new women and glamorous dames were out; the German wife and mother were in. The roles and star personas assigned to these actresses, though intended to entertain the public in a politically conformist way, point to the difficulty of yoking popular culture to ideology. 


Astor, Gerald.  The Jungle War: Mavericks, Marauders and Madmen in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II (Wiley, 2004).

The massive invasions, spectacular sea battles, and devastating bombing raids of World War II could not have occurred without enormous organizations, meticulous coordination, and absolute discipline–the meat and potatoes of modern, mechanized warfare. For those with more exotic appetites, however, there was CBI: China, Burma, and India.  In The Jungle War, the man whom Stephen Ambrose called "the master of the genre" of oral history relates the sprawling and dramatic tale of the theater of war in which forceful personalities battled chaos, and "conventional" warfare was simply impossible. Gerald Astor shows how Allied reluctance to commit resources to this "side-alley fight" led to a motley amalgamation of separate commands and specialized units led by some of the most colorful, unconventional, and innovative commanders in military history. Their internecine squabbles, political intrigues, and enormous egos are as much a part of the story as the battles they fought. 


Atkinson, Rick.  The Day of Battle (Henry Holt and Company, 2007).

In the second volume of his epic trilogy about the liberation of Europe in World War II, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Atkinson tells the harrowing story of the campaigns in Sicily and Italy.  In An Army at Dawn—winner of the Pulitzer Prize—Rick Atkinson provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the strengthening American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943 and then, mile by bloody mile, fight their way north toward Rome.

The Italian campaign’s outcome was never certain; in fact, Roosevelt, Churchill, and their military advisers engaged in heated debate about whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even a good idea. But once under way, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazis never wavered, despite the agonizingly high price. The battles at Salerno, Anzio, and Monte Cassino were particularly difficult and lethal, yet as the months passed, the Allied forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula. Led by Lieutenant General Mark Clark, one of the war’s most complex and controversial commanders, American officers and soldiers became increasingly determined and proficient. And with the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory at last began to seem inevitable.


Atkinson, Rick.  An Army at Dawn (Holt Paperbacks,Revised edition, 2007).

In An Army at Dawn,, a comprehensive look at the 1942-1943 Allied invasion of North Africa, author Rick Atkinson posits that the campaign was, along with the battles of Stalingrad and Midway, where the "Axis ... forever lost the initiative" and the "fable of 3rd Reich invincibility was dissolved." Additionally, it forestalled a premature and potentially disastrous cross-channel invasion of France and served as a grueling "testing ground" for an as-yet inexperienced American army. Lastly, by relegating Great Britain to what Atkinson calls the status of "junior partner" in the war effort, North Africa marked the beginning of American geopolitical hegemony. Although his prose is occasionally overwrought, Atkinson's account is a superior one, an agile, well-informed mix of informed strategic overview and intimate battlefield-and-barracks anecdotes. (Tobacco-starved soldiers took to smoking cigarettes made of toilet paper and eucalyptus leaves.) Especially interesting are Atkinson's straightforward accounts of the many "feuds, tiffs and spats" among British and American commanders, politicians, and strategists and his honest assessments of their—and their soldiers'—performance and behavior, for better and for worse. This is an engrossing, extremely accessible account of a grim and too-often overlooked military campaign.


August, Evelyn (Editor).  The Black Out (Random House, 2004).

"Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man [sic] can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge a whim." --G.K. Chesterton

Thus begins the Black-Out Book. At once a time capsule and a paean to domestic tranquility, the Black-Out brings together over five hundred games, pens¿es, puzzles, jokes, and literary snippets a simpler, yet in many ways more dangerous time than our own. Published during one of the darkest hours of British history, a time when curfews and rationing kept people close to their homes, the book offers insights into a bygone time, but can still delight 70 years on. 

While some passages are specific to 1940's England--'A thought for the petrol-rationed motorist' and 'What happened to the shilling?'--others are truly timeless--'Prayers of the Great' (Henry VIII, Raleigh, Plato), and 'What to do when sleep won't come.' 


Axell, Albert and Hideaki Kase.  Kamikaze: Japan’s Suicide Gods (Longman Publishing Group, 2002).

The use of the Japanese Kamikaze pilots during the Second World War was one of the most dramatic and chilling developments of the war. But who were the Kamikaze pilots and what motivated them to make the ultimate sacrifice? The call for Kamikaze pilots drew a staggering response. Three times as many applied for suicide flights as the number of planes available. The authors of Kamikaze: Japan’s Suicide Gods look into the hearts and minds of the Kamikaze pilots, viewed in the full context of the war and the Japanese cultures and traditions out of which the Kamikaze emerged. Based on interviews with Kamikaze survivors, unpublished memoirs, and documents not previously open to the public, the book portrays one of the most extraordinary and astonishing events in history, an event that has made Kamikaze a household word around the world. 


Non-Fiction-- Abdu-Jabbar to Stephen Ambrose

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem.  Brothers in Arms (Broadway, Reprint edition, 2005).

Brothers in Arms recounts the extraordinary story of the 761st, the first all-black armored unit to see combat in World War II.  Trained essentially as a public relations gesture to maintain the support of the black community for the war, the battalion was never intended to see battle. In fact, General Patton originally opposed their deployment, claiming African Americans couldn’t think quickly enough to operate tanks in combat conditions. But the Allies were so desperate for trained tank personnel in the summer of 1944, following heavy casualties in the fields of France, that the battalion was called up.

While most combat troops fought on the front for a week or two before being rotated back, the men of the 761st served for more than six months, fighting heroically under Patton’s Third Army at the Battle of the Bulge and in the Allies’ final drive across France and Germany. Despite a casualty rate that approached 50 percent and an extreme shortage of personnel and equipment, the 761st would ultimately help liberate some thirty towns and villages, as well as the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp. The racism that shadowed them during the war and the prejudice they faced upon their return home is an indelible part of their story. What shines through most of all, however, are the lasting bonds that united them as soldiers and brothers, the bravery they exhibited on the battlefield, and the quiet dignity and patriotism that defined their lives.  


Aciman, Andre.  False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory (Picador USA, 2001).

In these fourteen essays Andre Aciman, one of the most poignant stylists of his generation, dissects the experience of loss, moving from his forced departure from Alexandria as a teenager, though his brief stay in Europe and finally to the home he's made (and half invented) on Manhattan's Upper West Side.


Ackerman, Diane.  The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story (W.W. Norton, 2007).

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.


Alexander, Larry.  Biggest Brother: The Life Of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led The Band of Brothers (NAL Hardcover, 2005).

The commander of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the subject of Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers, the HBO miniseries made from it, and now this biography from a Pennsylvania journalist. Much of the book covers the same ground as the preceding work (Winters's command from Normandy through the Battle of the Bulge), but it also covers his youth in rural Pennsylvania, the Depression-era hardships he survived and the old-fashioned work ethic that stood him in good stead when he was drafted in 1941. Promotion eventually brought Winters to the rank of major and command of the 2nd Battalion of the 506th, and he was urged to stay in the army after WWII and again during Korea. But he settled down as a successful seller of livestock feed, raised a family and at the end of the book is still alive at 87. This straightforward study of the best sort of small-unit leader—fair, judiciously rewarding merit or the lack thereof, able to deal with a wide variety of people, leading from in front—is for the dedicated only.


Alperovitz, Gar.  The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (Vintage, 1996).  

One of the most controversial issues absorbing America today: Was it necessary to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? In this exhaustive, thoroughly documented study of the events of that time, Gar Alperovitz makes plain why the United States did not need to deploy the bomb.


Altner, Helmut.  Berlin Dance of Death (Casemate, 2005).

This is one of the most vivid accounts of destruction and hopelessness we have ever seen. It is a 17-year-old German conscript's experiences in the defense of Berlin during the spring of 1945—the last desperate days of Berlin—annotated and illustrated to show his part in the overall picture. Altner's account covers in detail recruit training on the front line after only ten days in barracks, the execution of deserters and action against the Red Army and turncoat German 'Seydlitz' Troops. He tells of the retreat back to Berlin with full kit, escaping capture time after time and the annihilation of nearly all his company in just one action. He gives detailed descriptions of house to house fighting in the Spandau sector of Berlin, the battle for the Olympic Stadium, the sacrifice of Hitler Youths, fighting in the city's subway tunnels and the disastrous attempt at a breakout to the west, culminating in his final capture. 


Ambrose, Hugh.  The Pacific (NAL, 2010).

Between America's retreat from China in late November 1941 and the moment General MacArthur's airplane touched down on the Japanese mainland in August of 1945, five men connected by happenstance fought the key battles of the war against Japan. From the debacle in Bataan, to the miracle at Midway and the relentless vortex of Guadalcanal, their solemn oaths to their country later led one to the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and the others to the coral strongholds of Peleliu, the black terraces of Iwo Jima and the killing fields of Okinawa, until at last the survivors enjoyed a triumphant, yet uneasy, return home.

In The Pacific, Hugh Ambrose focuses on the real-life stories of the five men who put their lives on the line for our country. To deepen the story revealed in the miniseries and go beyond it, the book dares to chart a great ocean of enmity known as The Pacific and the brave men who fought. Some considered war a profession, others enlisted as citizen soldiers. Each man served in a different part of the war, but their respective duties required every ounce of their courage and their strength to defeat an enemy who preferred suicide to surrender. The medals for valor which were pinned on three of them came at a shocking price-a price paid in full by all.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  Band of Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Band of Brothers is the account of the men of the remarkable Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Responsible for everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, these men fought, went hungry, froze, and died, taking 150 percent casualties and considering the Purple Heart a badge of office. Stephen Ambrose tells the stories, often in the men's own words, of these American heroes, drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers' journals and letters.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  The Victors (Simon & Schuster, 1999).

From America's preeminent military historian, Stephen E. Ambrose, comes a brilliant telling of the war in Europe, from D-Day, June 6, 1944, to the end, eleven months later, on May 7, 1945. This authoritative narrative account is drawn by the author himself from his five acclaimed books about that conflict, most particularly from the definitive and comprehensive D-Day and Citizen Soldiers, about which the great Civil War historian James McPherson wrote, "If there is a better book about the experience of GIs who fought in Europe during World War II, I have not read it.  Citizen Soldiers captures the fear and exhilaration of combat, the hunger and cold and filth of the foxholes, the small intense world of the individual rifleman as well as the big picture of the European theater in a manner that grips the reader and will not let him go. No one who has not been there can understand what combat is like but Stephen Ambrose brings us closer to an understanding than any other historian has done.  The Victors also includes stories of individual battles, raids, acts of courage and suffering from Pegasus Bridge, an account of the first engagement of D-Day, when a detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion; and from Band of Brothers, an account of an American rifle company from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment who fought, died, and conquered, from Utah Beach through the Bulge and on to Hitter's Eagle's Nest in Germany.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  Citizen Soldiers (Simon & Schuster, 1998).

In this riveting account, historian Stephen Ambrose continues where he left off in his #1 bestseller D-Day. Ambrose again follows the individual characters of this noble, brutal, and tragic war, from the high command down to the ordinary soldier, drawing on hundreds of interviews to re-create the war experience with startling clarity and immediacy. From the hedgerows of Normandy to the overrunning of Germany, Ambrose tells the real story of World War II from the perspective of the men and women who fought it.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  Americans at War (Berkley Trade, 1998).

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the foremost historians of the European theater of World War II, shares his vast knowledge of that conflict as well as the Civil War, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War in this compelling narrative about the American way of war. From Vicksburg to My Lai, Ambrose recounts the history of these wars with extensive coverage of the battlefields and believable portrayals of those involved, creating the perspective that the country's conflicts both reflect and shape American democratic society.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  D-Day (Simon & Schuster, 1995).

Stephen E. Ambrose draws from more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans to create the preeminent chronicle of the most important day in the twentieth century. Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion were abandoned, and how ordinary soldiers and officers acted on their own initiative. D-Day is above all the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their existence, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination—what Eisenhower called "the fury of an aroused democracy"—that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged. 


Ambrose, Stephen H. Eisenhower (Simon & Schuster, New edition, 1991).

Stephen E. Ambrose draws upon extensive sources, an unprecedented degree of scholarship, and numerous interviews with Eisenhower himself to offer the fullest, richest, most objective rendering yet of the soldier who became president. He gives us a masterly account of the European war theater and Eisenhower's magnificent leadership as Allied Supreme Commander. Ambrose's recounting of Eisenhower's presidency, the first of the Cold War, brings to life a man and a country struggling with issues as diverse as civil rights, atomic weapons, communism, and a new global role. 

Along the way, Ambrose follows the 34th President's relations with the people closest to him, most of all Mamie, his son John, and Kay Summersby, as well as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Harry Truman, Nixon, Dulles, Khrushchev, Joe McCarthy, and indeed, all the American and world leaders of his time. This superb interpretation of Eisenhower's life confirms Stephen Ambrose's position as one of our finest historians.


Ambrose, Stephen H.  Pegasus Bridge (Simon & Schuster, Reissue edition, 1988).

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, a small detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion of Europe. Pegasus Bridge was the first engagement of D-Day, the turning point of World War II. This gripping account of it by acclaimed author Stephen Ambrose brings to life a daring mission so crucial that, had it been unsuccessful, the entire Normandy invasion might have failed. Ambrose traces each step of the preparations over many months to the minute-by-minute excitement of the hand-to-hand confrontations on the bridge. This is a story of heroism and cowardice, kindness and brutality -- the stuff of all great adventures.


On-line Books

Battle ship by war artist, Arthur Beaumont


On-line Books 

The Internet is fast becoming an online library.  Several sources including the Gutenberg Project, Bartleby, the University of Kansas and BookRags offer books and other publications, including poetry, diaries and journals.  In some cases the works may not be complete, but contain only excerpts.  In order to find the books categorized below you can search by the title of the work.  However, you can visit each of the Internet sites previously named.  Each of these sites is constantly adding books to their holdings.  Year of publication is provided when known as well as other pertinent information pertaining to the book, including awards and/or if it was translated into English from other language.

If a book you are looking for isn’t listed, it may mean that it is not yet in the public domain.  Books are copyright free in the European Union 70 years after the death of the author or if published before 1923 in the United States.

Bartleby.com—The Preeminent internet publisher of literature, reference and verse proving students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge. 

BookRags.com—BookRags was founded in 1999 by two recent college graduates interested in providing on-demand educational resources to students around the world. Launched with just 40 book notes, BookRags has expanded over the years into one of the largest, most respected student education websites, with over 5.8 million unique pages of content. The goal of BookRags is to make it a complete research location for students of any age. As the tagline claims: "Research Anything." Enter any topic in the search box, and there's a good chance we'll have quality information on it. Larger topics are discussed in depth, with resources including encyclopedia articles, critical essays, student essays, biographies, primary sources, interviews, and study guides.


Comics and Cartoons--Nakazawa to Zeman

Nakazawa, Keiji.  Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004).

This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author's first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.


Nakazawa, Keiji.  Barefoot Gen: The Day After (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2004).

Volume two of the Gen series, The Day After, focuses on the days following the bombing of Hiroshima, as the living victims struggle to survive in the aftermath. Keiji Nakazawa was six when the atomic bomb dropped on his city. His first published cartoon work appeared in 1963.


Nakazawa, Keiji.  Barefoot Gen: Life after the Bomb (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2005).

Volume three follows Gen, his mother and baby brother as they search for a place to rest in the bomb's aftermath. Facing rejection, hunger and humiliation, they come to realize that they still have—and can share—self-respect, hope, and inner strength.


Nakazawa, Keiji.  Barefoot Gen: Out of the Ashes (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2006).

Volume four, resumes nine days after the bomb, as Gen and his mother continue to struggle for food, shelter and water amid chaos and vast human suffering. Though confronted with the most despicable aspects of humankind, Gen acts with love and compassion.


Spiegelman, Art.  Maus I: a Survivor's Tale; My Father Bleeds History (Pantheon, 1987).

Hailed as one of the most gripping accounts of the Nazi horrors ever produced. This small press comic illustrator broke out of the comic strip 'ghetto' to rave reviews—from the old 'Raw' magazines to the front page of the NY Times' Book Review.  A unique and powerful tale of a Holocaust survivor seen through the art and words of his son, America's leading avant-garde cartoonist.  


Spiegelman, Art.  Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began (Pantheon, 1991).

When Maus was published in 1987, it was an instantaneous success. A comic book in which Jews are mice, Germans are cats, and Poles are pigs, it was like nothing else published before—at once a novel and a biography, recapturing the full terror of the Jews in Poland during the holocaust. Now Spiegelman delivers the long-awaited second half of the tale of his parents' survival of Auschwitz.


Woodcock, Teedie Cowie.  Behind the Sawali: Santo Tomas in Cartoons (Cenografix, 2000).

One hundred and thirty cartoons drawn by a teenage girl during 37 months in a Japanese prison camp, Manila, Philippines are the subject of this work.  Teedie Cowie Woodcock crowded her cheerful little pencil sketches of day-to-day prison life on scraps of cheap paper and assembled these "pages" into a small booklet as a present to her mother on Christmas Day, 1944. They were the only material gift she had to give. "Unearthed" after 55 years and computer restored to remove mildew stains and crease marks, this is a fascinating view inside a civilian prison camp during WWII. A tribute to the courage and fortitude of these thousands of American civilians trapped half a world away from home.


Zeman, Zbynek.  Heckling Hitler (I. B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 1987).

This collection of 178 political caricatures captures the dynamics of the Nazi era and serves as a useful auxiliary to standard historical treatments.  Zeman has selected the best and most illustrative works of such cartoonists as David Low, George Grosz, and John Heartfield. His commentary on the individual caricatures and their creators is incisive, though the accompanying text a rather slapdash, miniature history of the Third Reich contains some basic factual errors. This caveat notwithstanding, the book has a powerful cumulative effect on the reader. It has the potential to sharpen one's impressions of Hitler, his cohorts, and his times.  (Mark R. Yerburgh, Trinity Coll. Lib., Burlington, Vt. for Library Journal)


Comics and Cartoons--Bryant to Minear

Bryant, Mark.  World War II in Cartoons (Gallery Books, 1989).

The cartoon has a special place in the history of World War II. During the London Blitz the British upper lip was kept resolutely stiff by the antics of Strube's little man and the red-faced indignity of Low's Colonel Blimp. Fougasse's Underground posters, Lancaster's pocket cartoons, Pont's unique drawings and the work of Vicky have an immediacy that has been unaffected by the passage of time. Giles, Searle, Illingworth, Zec and many more portrayed the grim realities and humorous asides of the conflict. Across the Atlantic a discerning public enjoyed the work of Peter Arno, Arthur Szyk, Saul Steinberg, Daniel Fitzpatrick and many others. Krokodil meanwhile produced its own brand of Soviet humor and satire, and considerable talent existed in Germany, Italy, Japan, and elsewhere between 1939 and 1945.


Boyd, Bentley.  World War 2 Tales (Chester Comix, 2005).

Chester the Crab spans the globe to tell the story of World War 2 and the struggle of democratic nations against fascist nations trying to supply easy answers at the end of a gun. Included are the Battle of Britain, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, D-Day and the Pacific Island island-hopping campaign. From the invasion of Poland to the atomic bombs on Japan, this colorful graphic novel will excite reluctant readers, prepare students for standardized tests in history, and help homeschooling parents!


Darracott, Joseph.  A Cartoon War: World War Two in Cartoons (Leo Cooper, 1989).

A Cartoon War presents an unusual history of the Second World War drawing heavily on the resources of the Imperial War Museum where the author worked. Cartoonists from many nations are represented.


Egendorf, Laura K. (Editor).  World War II (Greenhaven Press, 2004).

World War II forever changed the global political and economic landscape. Cartoonists in this compilation explore life on the battlefield, attitudes toward the war in the United States and throughout the world, and the war's legacy.


Mauldin, Bill.  Up front (The World Publishing Company, 1945).

Originally published in 1945, Bill Mauldin's collection of drawings of American infantrymen in World War II was a popular classic of its genre.


Minear, Richard H.  Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel (New Press, 1999).

Dr. Seuss Goes to War features handsome, large-format reproductions of nearly 200 of the best of Theodor Geisel's political cartoons from this time.


Young Adult Fiction--Yep to Zussks

Yep, Laurence.  Hiroshima (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1996).

In quiet, simple prose, Yep tells what happens when the atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. He tells it in short chapters in the present tense, switching from crewmen on the Enola Gay to children in a Hiroshima classroom; then he describes the attack, the mushroom cloud, and the destruction of the city; finally, he talks about the aftermath, immediate and long term, including the arms race and the movement for peace. One chapter explains the physics of the explosion and of radiation. The facts are so dramatic and told with such controlled intensity that we barely need the spare fictionalization about a young Hiroshima child who is there when the bomb falls and who later comes to the U.S. for treatment (Yep says in an afterword that she's a composite of several children). The account is fair and totally devastating. Though accessible to middle-grade readers, this will also interest older readers, who will find nothing condescending in content or format. Fifty years later, the event is still the focus of furious controversy (even the numbers are in dispute), and this novella will start classroom discussion across the curriculum. There's a bibliography for further reading. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Jane Yolen.  The Devil's Arithmetic (Puffin, 2004).

A time travel novel that finds a 12-year-old Jewish girl tired of hearing the same family stories over and over again transported from her home in New York to a Polish village in 1942. She knows the history of the Holocaust and the fate of the Jews, but she cannot convince the Jews of the village to run when they encounter Nazis who tell them that they must relocate. Though targeting middle grade readers, the book gives readers of all ages a detailed description of life in the concentration camps and emphasizes the importance of remembering.


Zapruder, Alexandra (Editor).  Salvaged Pages: Young Writers` Diaries of the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2004).

For the millions who read The Diary of Anne Frank (1952), this collection of 14 Holocaust diaries by young people from all over Europe will extend the history beyond Anne's attic walls. Scholars will want this volume--editor Zapruder's research is meticulous, drawing on archives and museums across the world--but the intensely personal voices of these young people who record the unimaginable will also draw a general audience. In her clear overview and introductions to each diary, Zapruder gives historical context and biography and decries any message of consolation or redemption, pointing out that these stark narratives banish forever the stereotypes of sweet victim, beneficent rescuer, and unfeeling bystander; instead, they suggest the immense complexity of ordinary people. Some writers are dull; some write with heartbreaking power. One diarist focuses on hunger: he's absolutely obsessed with food. Another's anguish is the loneliness, the separation; she cannot forget having to leave her grandmother in the street. The places range from the Czech forests and the Lodz ghetto to Auschwitz and the horrific scenes at liberation. (Hazel Rochman for Booklist)


Zindel, Paul.  The Gadget (Laurel Leaf, 2003).

Near the end of World War II, scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, are working on a project that will alter the fate of the world. Thirteen-year-old Stephen Orr is living at a top secret military base with his father, a leading physicist, building the atomic bomb. Stephen realizes the dangers involved when one of the scientists becomes hospitalized as a result of working with the project. The scientist alerts him to disasters that could come from The Gadget. Stephen feels it is up to him and his friend Tilanov to find the answers that lie behind this veil of secrecy.


Zullo, Allan and Mara Bovsun.  Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2005).

These are the true-life accounts of nine Jewish boys and girls whose lives spiraled into danger and fear as the Holocaust overtook Europe. In a time of great horror, these children each found a way to make it through the nightmare of war. Some made daring escapes into the unknown, others disguised their true identities, and many witnessed unimaginable horrors. But what they all shared was the unshakable belief in—and hope for—survival.


Zussks, Markus.  The Book Thief (The Bodley Head, 2007).

Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels’ story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves.


Young Adult Fiction--Uchida to Wulffson

Uchida, Yoshiko.  Invisible Thread (HarperTrophy, 1995).

The author of The Best Bad Thing, The Happiest Ending, and A Jar of Dreams tells of her childhood in Berkeley, California. Although her parents were both born in Japan, Yoshiko, her older sister Keiko, and her parents all consider themselves Americans. Although Yoshiko and her family are happy in the United States, she describes her feelings of not fitting in and her fears about being different from her mostly white classmates and neighbors. When Yoshiko is in college, her fears of discrimination become reality when, because of mass hysteria, racism, and paranoia after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese-American population of California and other western states are forced to live in internment camps in the United States. The people in the camps—many of them American citizens—are stripped of their civil rights and treated like criminals. Yoshiko describes the harshness of life in these camps, and how she and her family struggled to survive. After being released, Yoshiko became a teacher and the author of Journey to Topaz and Journey Home, which are based on her experiences in the internment camps.


Uchida, Yoshiko.  Desert Exile: the Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family (University of Washington Press, 1984).

Yoshiko Uchida has given us a chronicle of a very special kind of courage, the courage to preserve normalcy and humanity in the face of irrationality and inhumanity. Her family's story, told in loving detail, brings alive the [Japanese] internment experience and is an important book for all Americans.


Uchida, Yoshiko.  Journey Home (Alladin, 1982).

This sequel To Journey To Topaz takes place after 12-year-old Yuki and the rest of her Japanese-American family are released from Topaz, the internment camp they and many other Japanese-Americans were forced to live in during World War II. Although Yuki and her family are once again free, they are still often treated with hatred and prejudice. Will Yuki be able to readapt to life in California?


Uchida, Yoshiko.  Journey to Topaz (Creative Publications, 1971).

Eleven-year-old Yuki Sakane and her family are living in California when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, it seems as if all people of Japanese descent are seen as suspicious. Soon Yuki's father is taken away by the FBI, and Yuki, her mother, and her brother are sent to an internment camp--first at the horse stalls of the Tanforan Racetrack and then at a desert camp called Topaz. Life in the camp is scary and difficult, and Yuki wonders whether she and her family—and the thousands of other Japanese-Americans held in internment camps—will ever get their freedom back.


Walsh, Jill Paton.  Fireweed (Univ of Nebraska Press, 1994).

In this novel set in London during the 1940 blitz, readers follow the adventures of a boy and girl who have run away from their families.


Watkins, Paul.  Night Over Day Over Night (St. Martin’s Press, 1997).

This ``remarkably accomplished'' first novel comes at WW II from an unusual angle. Its protagonist is the wry, embittered 17-year-old Sebastian Westland, who lives in a small German town and, during the last year of the war, enlists in the SS. PW called this ``a dark triumph, with the grip of nightmare.''  (Publisher’s Weekly)


Weinblatt, Charles S.  Jacob's Courage (Mazo Publishers, 2007).

Jacob's Courage is a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Jacob's Courage chronicles the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. In 1939, seventeen-year-old Austrians Jacob Silverman and Rachael Goldberg are bright, talented, and deeply in love. Because they are Jews, their families lose everything; their jobs, possessions and money, contact with loved ones, and finally their liberty at the hands of the Nazis. Jacob and Rachael "grow up" during the Holocaust. As teenagers, they survive the beatings, rapes, and murderous acts of the Nazis, enjoy the physical and spiritual pleasure of being in love and are able to become husband and wife in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, before being imprisoned in Auschwitz. Eventually Jacob and Rachael become Partisans to fight the Nazi enemy. While "Jacob's Courage" is a novel, the author, Charles Weinblatt, has based portions of the story on his mother's experience. Clara Volk Weinblatt was a childhood victim of pogroms in her Russian Jewish village. Much of Weinblatt's maternal extended family perished in the Holocaust. Great grandparents, great-aunts and uncles and many cousins disappeared into the void of Nazi annihilation. This book is dedicated to the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust. They have been lost, but will never be forgotten.  Jacob's Courage is Holocaust literature for adult readers.  Jacob's Courage is a beautiful love story set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.  Jacob's Courage chronicles the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. In 1939, seventeen-year-old Austrians Jacob Silverman and Rachael Goldberg are bright, talented, and deeply in love. Because they are Jews, their families lose everything; their jobs, possessions and money, contact with loved ones, and finally their liberty at the hands of the Nazis. Jacob and Rachael "grow up" during the Holocaust. As teenagers, they survive the beatings, rapes, and murderous acts of the Nazis, enjoy the physical and spiritual pleasure of being in love and are able to become husband and wife in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, before being imprisoned in Auschwitz. Eventually Jacob and Rachael become Partisans to fight the Nazi enemy. While Jacob's Courage is a novel, the author, Charles Weinblatt, has based portions of the story on his mother's experience. Clara Volk Weinblatt was a childhood victim of pogroms in her Russian Jewish village. Much of Weinblatt's maternal extended family perished in the Holocaust. Great grandparents, great-aunts and uncles and many cousins disappeared into the void of Nazi annihilation. This book is dedicated to the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust. They have been lost, but will never be forgotten.  Jacob's Courage is Holocaust literature for adult readers.


Werner, Emmy E.  Through the Eyes of Innocents: Children Witness World War II (Westview Press, 2001).

World War II was the first modern war in which more civilians than soldiers were killed or maimed: When it ended in August 1945, more than thirty-nine millions civilians had died as a direct result of the war, and some thirteen million of these were children. In Through the Eyes of Innocents, Emmy Werner tells the story of the children of World War II through their own words. Drawing on diaries, letters, and journals kept by youngsters caught up in the war, Werner shows the universality of their experience. Children and teenagers from a dozen countries - England, Germany, France, Japan, the former Soviet Union, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Poland and the United States - are all represented in some 200 eye-witness accounts. Werner focuses on their shared reactions to the war, the hardships they endured, how they coped, and how the war experience shaped their lives. The message they share with other children in contemporary wars is an extraordinary affirmation of life and the sustaining power of hope and human decency.


Westall, Robert.  The Kingdom by the Sea (Egmont Books, 2002).

A riveting story of a boy's struggle to survive after the loss of his family in World War II.  Harry, 12, accompanied by a dog he finds, must provide for the two of them while avoiding the authorities who will certainly turn him over to his dreaded Cousin Elsie. On his travels, he meets physical and emotional challenges with growing confidence based on innate resourcefulness and sensitivity. The novel is sparely written but rich in details of time and place and especially in character. Even minor characters are vividly depicted. Adult concerns Harry must contend with (the death-dealing destructiveness of war, potential child molestation) are handled appropriately for young readers. The plot is engrossing, studded both with moments of drama and action, and quieter, more reflective scenes. Sights, sounds, smells, and emotions are all revealed with clarity and honesty. British terms and occasional dialect are discernible in context. The one real flaw in an otherwise superior novel is the resolution, which takes an unfortunate change of direction without preparing readers, a change that seriously undermines the magic of what has gone before. It also seems gravely unfair to Harry, who has undergone so much and matured so greatly. This concern aside, Kingdom would be an excellent selection for private enjoyment, for reading aloud, as a supplement to units on war, or as a discussion starter on the human capacity to survive extreme adversity.  (Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada for School Library Journal)


Westall, Robert.  Blizt Cat (Macmillan Children's Books, 1995).

A view of the Second World War seen through the eyes of a cat. The fear, loneliness, bravery and comradeship which many experienced is brought vividly to life by a master writer. A recommended read for any child with an interest in history. Wonderful images of a turbulent period in our past. The Blitz Cat touches many lives and you can't help but feel a whole spectrum of emotions as she searches for her lost owners. Westall uses fact and fiction to explore the idea of psi-trailing, the cat's ability to travel hundreds of miles to find people it cares about. (Mrsmad.com)


Westall, Robert.  The Machine Gunners (Macmillan Children's Books,New edition, 2001).

Based on a true accident during WWII, this Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book tells the story of a group of teenagers who plan to use a scavenged Nazi machine gun to launch a counter-attack on invading Germans.


Westall, Robert.  Fathom Five (Macmillan Children's Books; New Edition, June 1996).

A teenage boy and his friends spend the spring of 1943 trying to discover who in Garmouth, a sleepy English seaport, is passing information to the Germans.


Williams, Laura. Behind the Bedroom Wall (Milkweed Editions, 2005).

It's 1942. Thirteen-year-old Korinna Rehme is an active member of her local Jungmadel, a Nazi youth group, along with many of her friends. She believes that Hitler is helping Germany by instituting a program to deal with what he calls the "Jewish problem," a program that she witnesses as her Jewish neighbors are attacked and taken from their homes. Korinna's parents, however, are members of a secret underground group providing a means of escape to the Jews of their city. Korinna is shocked to discover that they are hiding a refugee family behind the wall of her bedroom. But as she comes to know the family, her sympathies begin to turn. When someone tips off the Gestapo, loyalties are put to the test and Korinna must decide what she really believes and whom she really trusts. Filled with adventure, Behind the Bedroom Wall helps readers understand the forces that drove so many to turn on their neighbors and the courage that allowed some to resist.


Wilson, John.  Flames of the Tiger (Kids Can Press, Ltd., 2003).

As a boy growing up in Germany during Hitler's rise to power, Dieter has been seduced by the pomp and circumstance of war. But as global hostilities intensify, Dieter is called upon to fight for his country in a conflict that he doesn't fully understand. With most of his family dead, Berlin in ruins and the Russian army closing in, Dieter can no longer naively cling to his childhood beliefs. The world he is facing is brutal, dirty and unforgiving, and the most he can hope for is the chance to survive.


Wiseman, Eva.  My Canary Yellow Star (Tundra Books, 2001).

The Second World War was a time of terrible injustices. It was also a time of incredible bravery. My Canary Yellow Star is the remarkable story of one of the last century’s greatest heroes, Raoul Wallenberg, who was responsible for saving as many as 100,000 lives. Young Marta’s life in Budapest has been shattered by the war. First, her school closes. Jews are prohibited from attending classes. Then her father, along with other able-bodied men, is arrested and sent to work digging ditches on the eastern front. The family’s apartment is confiscated, and Marta, her brother, and her mother must share cramped space with her aunt and cousin. Food, warm clothing, and any kind of personal freedom have all but vanished.

Jewish life becomes more and more confined as the old people, women, and children are forced into the ghetto. From there, the next step is the waiting cattle cars and the concentration camps. But Marta’s family is lucky. They are numbered among those who could be saved by the efforts of Raoul Wallenberg. Among the few points of hope was this extraordinary Swedish diplomat. Raoul Wallenberg issued papers to thousands of Jews, declaring them to be Swedish citizens. Wallenberg was questioned by the Russians after the war and disappeared, possibly to die in Siberia. An international movement has been in place for decades to press Russia for news of his fate. Although details of his death remain a mystery, he has come to represent courage and justice in the face of great evil.


Woodson, Jacqueline.  Coming On Home Soon (Putnam Juvenile, 2004).

Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.


Wulffson, Don L.  Soldier X (Puffin; Reprint edition, 2003).

Sixteen-year-old Erik Brandt barely knows what Germany is fighting for when he is drafted into Hitler's army in 1944. Sent to the killing fields of the Eastern Front, he is surrounded by unimaginable sights, more horrific than he ever thought possible. It's kill or be killed, and it seems clear that Erik's days are numbered. Until, covered in blood and seriously injured, he conceives of another way to survive. Filled with gritty and visceral detail, Soldier X will change the way every reader thinks about the reality of war.


Young Adult Fiction--Sierakowiak to Toll

Sierakowiak, David.  The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak: Five Notebooks from the Lodz Ghetto (Oxford University Press, 1998).

"In the evening I had to prepare food and cook supper, which exhausted me totally. In politics there's absolutely nothing new. Again, out of impatience I feel myself beginning to fall into melancholy. There is really no way out of this for us." This is Dawid Sierakowiak's final diary entry. Soon after writing it, the young author died of tuberculosis, exhaustion, and starvation--the Holocaust syndrome known as "ghetto disease." After the liberation of the Lodz Ghetto, his notebooks were found stacked on a cookstove, ready to be burned for heat. Young Sierakowiak was one of more than 60,000 Jews who perished in that notorious urban slave camp, a man-made hell which was the longest surviving concentration of Jews in Nazi Europe. The diary comprises a remarkable legacy left to humanity by its teenage author. It is one of the most fastidiously detailed accounts ever rendered of modern life in human bondage. Off mountain climbing and studying in southern Poland during the summer of 1939, Dawid begins his diary with a heady enthusiasm to experience life, learn languages, and read great literature. He returns home under the quickly gathering clouds of war. Abruptly Lodz is occupied by the Nazis, and the Sierakowiak family is among the city's 200,000 Jews who are soon forced into a sealed ghetto, completely cut off from the outside world. With intimate, undefended prose, the diary's young author begins to describe the relentless horror of their predicament: his daily struggle to obtain food to survive; trying to make reason out of a world gone mad; coping with the plagues of death and deportation. Repeatedly he rallies himself against fear and pessimism, fighting the cold, disease, and exhaustion which finally consume him. Physical pain and emotional woe hold him constantly at the edge of endurance. Hunger tears Dawid's family apart, turning his father into a thief who steals bread from his wife and children. The wonder of the diary is that every bit of hardship yields wisdom from Dawid's remarkable intellect. Reading it, you become a prisoner with him in the ghetto, and with discomfiting intimacy you begin to experience the incredible process by which the vast majority of the Jews of Europe were annihilated in World War II. Significantly, the youth has no doubt about the consequence of deportation out of the ghetto: "Deportation into lard," he calls it. A committed communist and the unit leader of an underground organization, he crusades for more food for the ghetto's school children. But when invited to pledge his life to a suicide resistance squad, he writes that he cannot become a "professional revolutionary." He owes his strength and life to the care of his family.


Spinelli, Jerry.  Milkweed (Laurel Leaf, 2005).

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham. He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.  Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.


Steele, D. Kelley.  Would You Salute? (Hidden Path Publications, 2006).

This is the story of a young girl who grew up in Germany many years ago. Her life was similar to yours. She loved her mother and her father. She loved to play with her friends. One day at school, she was taught about a man named Hitler. She did not know it then, but her life was about to change forever.  Author D. Kelley Steele writes this true story for the old and the young, the teacher and the parent- but it is written especially for children. The story is told simply and carefully. The reader is invited into this young girl's world so that he or she may understand the power of the choices that we make. A biographical section is included at the back of the book, giving readers the opportunity to learn more about Margot and her family. 


Stern, Fritz.  Five Germanys I Have Known (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).

The “German question” haunts the modern world: How could so civilized a nation be responsible for the greatest horror in Western history? In this unusual fusion of personal memoir and history, the celebrated scholar Fritz Stern refracts the question through the prism of his own life. Born in the Weimar Republic, exposed to five years of National Socialism before being forced into exile in 1938 in America, he became a world-renowned historian whose work opened new perspectives on the German past.

Stern brings to life the five Germanys he has experienced: Weimar, the Third Reich, postwar West and East Germanys, and the unified country after 1990. Through his engagement with the nation from which he and his family fled, he shows that the tumultuous history of Germany, alternately the strength and the scourge of Europe, offers political lessons for citizens everywhere—especially those facing or escaping from tyranny. In this wise, tough-minded, and subtle book, Stern, himself a passionately engaged citizen, looks beyond Germany to issues of political responsibility that concern everyone. Five Germanys I Have Known vindicates his belief that, at its best, history is our most dramatic introduction to a moral civic life.


Streatfeild, Noel.  When the Sirens Wailed (HarperCollins Publishers, 1986).

Rather than stay with a new family, three young evacuees try to return to their home in London after their country host dies suddenly.


Tec, Nechama.  Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood (Oxford University Press, 1984).

A story of a young Jewish girl's coming of age during the tragic years of the Holocaust.


Toksvig, Sandi.  Hitler’s Canary (Roaring Book Press, 2007).

When Nazi invasion brings a restrictive dictatorship to the fair and free-thinking Danes, Bamse's theatrical family chooses to ignore the increasingly dangerous circumstances in the hope that their gentile family and thespian lifestyle will not be affected. Older brother Orlando sees the writing on the wall and joins the Resistance while Uncle Johann sides with the Nazi sympathizers, hoping for survival through cooperation. Caught in a cage between the British and German fighting, Denmark is dubbed "Hitler's Canary." The increasing number of arrests and likely deportation of all Danish Jews force the Skovlunds to come to terms with reality. Bamse and his Jewish friend Anton begin to work secretly alongside Orlando until Anton's family is forced into hiding. Bamse's political-cartoonist father loses his job and his famous stage-actress mother makes good use of her acting talent to create an effective diversion for the Gestapo searching their home. Through the voice of 12-year-old Bamse, Toksvig mixes in a sardonic humor that adds spice and comic relief to a story about a very perilous and frightening time. Drawing on real events and the experiences of her family, she re-creates an episode in history when many citizens willingly put their lives at risk to participate in the 10-day rescue of the Danish Jews during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays of 1943. In total, close to 7200 Jews and 689 non-Jews escaped to Sweden.  (Rita Soltan, Youth Services Consultant, West Bloomfield, MI for School Library Journal)


Toll, Nelly.  Behind the Secret Window (Puffin, 2003).

The Nazis come to Poland when Nelly is six. By the time she turns eight, the events of World War II have taken almost everyone she loves. Scared, lonely, and running from the Nazis, Nelly hides in the bedroom of a Gentile couple in Poland. For over a year, she lives in fear of discovery, writing in her diary and painting pictures of a fantasy world filled with open skies and happy families. Illustrated with Nelly's original watercolors, this powerful memoir tells the true story of how a little girl's imagination helped her survive a nightmare.