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Recommend me a book- History of WW2


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Can anyone suggest a good history of WW2? I feel ashamed that I know so little about what was the major event in the world for the past 100 years or so.

 

PLus I'm interested in history anyway.

 

I also want to understand more about what my granddad went through and understand more why every single person who fought was a hero.

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I've always wanted to read Winston Churchill's "The Second World War" in a staggering twelve volumes.

 

Volume I, The Gathering Storm alone is 752 pages, so I reckon that's about 9,000 pages in total :scared:

 

And I've read a couple of Cassell Military History books a long time ago. Each book is about just one small part of the war (The late Alan Clark's The Fall of Crete, for instance. I found them well written whilst still being very readable.

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Do you want a history book that more or less lists all the events so you know what happened or are you looking for books of people who lived during the time. There are a lot of books like that and if you let us know, I'll put together a list of books that I think are worth reading.

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We have at home A World At Arms:A Global History of World War II by Gerhard L Weinberg and published by Cambridge University Press.

 

I quote from the fly-leaf: 'It covers all the theaters of war, the weaponry used, and developments on the home front. It is also the first history of the war to take on a truly global perspective....draws together diplomatic and military operations, home front pressures and world events, economic developments and ideological preconceptions, armaments programs and manpower allocations....'

 

Enough to be going on with?

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A previous job of mine was as an archivist dealing with a lot of Second World War memorabilia (for want of a better word) - I find the history of the whole era absolutely fascinating.

 

The two books by Ian Kershaw 'Hitler: 1889 - 1936 Hubris' and 'Hitler: 1936 - 1945 Nemesis' cover just about all you would need to know about the man and the rise of National Socialism and the Nazi Party. I have managed to read the first one and intend to tackle the second one some time this year.

 

'The First and the Last' by Adolph Galland is a book my husband would recommend - a story from a Luftwaffe Pilot's point of view - he knew Douglas Bader. He also recommends a book called 'The Forgotten Soldier' by Guy Sajer, a German infantryman's account of the Russian campaign.

 

'The Colditz Story' by Pat Reid is fantastic and, while poignant, also has some laugh out loud moments.

 

'A Bridge Too Far' by Cornelius Ryan -about Arnhem and Operation Market Garden is a fantastic read and a comprehensive history of that campaign.

 

Any of Anthony Beevor's books or Richard Overy's are well worth looking at. One of the best young writers (in my humble opinion) is James Holland. He has written books that concentrate on particular theatres of the war so, if you were interested in perhaps the North African campaign I could recommend 'Together We Stand' and his book 'Fortress Malta' really gives you an insight into life on the besieged island.

 

Martin Gilbert's book 'The Holocaust' is an excellent grounding in that subject then look for the many personal accounts that are now published.

 

Matthew Parker's 'Monte Cassino' is a book I have meant to read for ages, it is supposed to be exceptionally good.

 

Two good D-Day books are 'The Bedford Boys' by Alex Kershaw, about a group of young men all from one small town in the US and what they went through on D-Day - I read this on my honeymoon (!) and wept buckets. Another one is about a fantastic Yorkshireman who won the Victoria Cross on D-Day 'D-Day Hero CSM Stanley Hollis VC' by Mike Morgan.

 

Unfortunately most of my books are packed away at the moment, waiting for a room to be decorated and new book cases - so I can't get at books about the Pacific War but off the top of my head - 'The Fall of Singapore' by Frank Owen is a good basic history. Other books that spring to mind are 'The Railway Man' by Eric Lomax - as a POW he worked on the infamous Burma Railroad. For a book about the man Alec Guinness played in the film 'Bridge on the River Kwai - the book 'The Colonel of Tamarkan' by Julie Summers has been highly recommended to me.

 

Hope that helps to gives you a good start! Like Meg says - finding books that cover the whole War is almost impossible, other than the really general histories. Having said that - the book recommended by Chuntzy sounds pretty good! If you pick a subject or campaign you want to start with and if your interest develops, you'll naturally find yourself moving on to other areas and subjects. Look for the personal experience books once you have a grounding in a subject. They can be real gems and describe things the large histories can only skim.

 

Happy reading!

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a failry general history of what started the war and then follows through chronologically what happened.
So, how far back would you want to go? The invasion of Poland in 1939, or the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI, or to the start of that war...and the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo...or further back to 1911 and the formation of The Black Hand?
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First posted by Megustaleer: So, how far back would you want to go? The invasion of Poland in 1939, or the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI, or to the start of that war...and the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo...or further back to 1911 and the formation of The Black Hand?

 

:D

 

First posted by Jeremy: Ideally what I want is a failry general history of what started the war and then follows through chronologically what happened.

 

I think the book Chuntzy recommends sounds ideal in that case. I bet you could pick it up via Amazon.

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First posted by Megustaleer: So, how far back would you want to go? The invasion of Poland in 1939, or the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI, or to the start of that war...and the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo...or further back to 1911 and the formation of The Black Hand?
Ha! I knew someone would ask that. Perhaps starting at what caused the outbreak of WW2 I guess.
Actually, Meg's question isn't that silly and there isn't an easy answer to the start of WWII. The outbreak wasn't the invasion of Hitler into Poland but it did start a long, long, long, long .... time before.
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  • 1 month later...
Actually, Meg's question isn't that silly and there isn't an easy answer to the start of WWII. The outbreak wasn't the invasion of Hitler into Poland but it did start a long, long, long, long .... time before.

 

Indeed, I understand that there's a scene dealing with it at the start of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. ;)

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  • 2 months later...

For a brief left-wing history of the aftermath of both World Wars try Eric Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes : The Short Twenthieth Century 1914-1991. He has a very readable style and his views are a good contrast to the more common right wing stuff.

 

After you have read something about WWII you might like to try Professor Peter Hennessy's Never Again which is an account of British life from 1945-1951. Hennessy is a lucid and amusing writer and as Ian Aitken wrote 'the antithesis of the dry-as-dust academic historian [who] laughs a great deal and punctuates his writing with cheery and illuminating anecdotes'. Hennessy followed this with Having it So Good which covers the Fifties, about which Philip Ziegler wrote 'If the Gods gossip, this is how it would sound'.

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