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World War II books

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Showing 1-25 of 90 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 2, 2013 5:26:39 AM PST
What is the best single volume work on the war? I've read many books on various aspects of the war but never a really good overview, which now I really want to read. OK, maybe one on the Pacific theater and one on Europe... I just want input from the many of you here who are better versed on the topic than I. THANK YOU in advance.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2013 5:52:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 2, 2013 5:53:15 AM PST
JR Fleming says:
These are good books. The Weinberg book (World at Arms) is excellent, but not the easiest to read.
The Second World War

A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

The Pacific War

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2013 10:48:12 AM PST
Debunker says:
John Keegan's "The Second World War".Max Hastings also has a good one volume treatment of the war.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2013 5:31:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 3, 2013 5:35:09 PM PST
I would say "The Pacific War 1941-1945" by John Costello. The Pacific is my current area of expertise. I doubt that a single volume could do justice to the entire conflict. It's just too complex. I would narrow it down to the Pacific, and to Europe.

Posted on Feb 24, 2013 5:00:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2015 4:46:29 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
When I was a kid, "Life's Picture History Of World War II", published circa 1950, made an indelible impression on me. Large size. Some of the most vivid photos of the war were collected there--German paratroopers dropping out of the sky; a bombed-out Coventry Cathedral; little British kids being evacuated to the country; sweaty, exhausted G.I.s far from home. Good text, too. Unforgettable.

Posted on Feb 24, 2013 5:52:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2013 8:17:49 PM PST
Al says:
The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed
Gives an excellent and unconventional account of what caused the war. Author David Hoggan was a professor of history at Harvard.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2013 7:04:01 PM PST
John M. Lane says:
One of the best WW II books I've read is THE THIRD REICH AT WAR by Richard J. Evans. It was published in 2009 and Evans is Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and it's available in paperback now. It is focused on the European phase of the war, however.

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 12:53:38 AM PST
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany is the seminal work on WW2 in Europe.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2013 8:06:12 AM PST

It is not seminal, it is but one of many and has numerous flaws, it is rather a soap opera of the doings of the time with only a cursory examination of the myriad of things going on during that period. There is little context and the scholarship is rather weak, even at the time. Moreover the book is over 50 years old. Evans books (or book depending on what period you want to know) are better. But I guess the big question is what do you want to know because it informs the decisions. Do you want to know about battlefield events, the German homefront, the Allied homefront, or what?

I'd go with Keegan's "The Second World War" I'd rather say that it's the best treatment, it has its flaws but it's pretty good. But I also liked Weinberg's "A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II" (it gives a great overall view). But these books are big. And there is so much to cover.

But, "The Rise and Fall" is very dated and it shows.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2013 8:14:42 AM PST
Debunker says:
I still have that book!

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 11:02:05 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 22, 2015 5:11:38 AM PST]

Posted on Feb 26, 2013 5:48:27 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
The Axis Strained
The Axis Reversed
The Axis Broken

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2013 2:47:13 PM PST
patrick says:
they were crude howdy-doody captions, werent they?

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 3:05:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2013 3:05:43 PM PST
Pat Answer says:
I'm halfway through Weinberg's "A World At Arms" at the moment (having finally decided to acknowledge there is military history after 1865). :-D
It's a long one, but I heartily add my recommendation of it to those already made in this thread.

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 4:07:30 PM PST
Steelers fan says:
Not at all. Powerful and indelible.

Posted on Mar 1, 2013 4:08:09 PM PST
Steelers fan says:
As were the unforgettable images which accompanied them.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2013 4:14:55 PM PST

"having finally decided to acknowledge there is military history after 1865" pshaw ... I though it was mostly pedestrian economics after 1815 ;P

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2013 8:37:02 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 9, 2013 6:48:24 PM PST
The absolute best book I've read on the Pacific theater is David Bergamini's "Japan's Imperial Conspiracy". This was published in 1971 and is now out of print, but used copies are still available on Amazon at reasonable prices--brand new copies are astronomically expensive. This hefty, and I mean HEFTY, book (paperback version 1200 pages of dense print excluding notes) covers not only the war, but Japan's political history from 1921 on to 1945. It focuses on Hirohito's central role in the drive to war and his decision to keep it going long after he knew it was lost. The book was rediculed when first published but history has since confirmed the author's thesis of the Emperor as THE war criminal that made everything tick.
The book covers a lot of ground with a cast of bizarre characters, improbable plots, conspiracies and assassinations, plus the ideological, cultural and dynastic factors that shaped Hirohito; he was filling the role his grandfather, Emperor Meiji, laid down for the Yamato clan and Japan since the 19th century. A mild-mannered man, Hirohito's passion was the study of marine biology, at which he was accomplished; had he not been Emperor, he probably would have become a scientist. What makes this book so fascinating is that the author, as an adolescent, with his missionary family was imprisoned by the Japanese for the entire war in a civilians internment camp that was strict, but not brutal. He got to know the Japanese, spoke the language, exchanged goods with the guards and kept a low profile. Bergamini always wondered why these people, so kind to children, did what they did--he spent his life trying to answer this question; this book is the result. This is a MUST MUST read!!

Posted on May 10, 2013 5:17:38 PM PDT
New Book - we recently published our Aunt's diary which she kept growing up as a teenager in war torn Munich as a member of the Hitler Youth. She started it in late 1939 and continued until mid 1946. It provides a unique first person account of events as they happened and thought you might like to know it exists. The title is "Wolfhilde's Hitler Youth Diary 1939-1946", the book's FB page is at Thanks, Doug. Wolfhilde's Hitler Youth Diary 1939-1946

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2015 12:19:57 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 29, 2015 1:41:21 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 22, 2015 4:51:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2015 10:49:12 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Am currently reading Hilda Van Stockum's "The Borrowed House", about a teenage German girl and her actor parents as "guests" in occupied Amsterdam. Young Janna, a Hitler Youth member and a believer in the Reich, soon learns what Nazism really is.

Ms. Van Stockum's "The Winged Watchman", also about the Dutch Resistance from a youth's perspective, remains one of the best books I ever read as a kid.

Posted on Nov 24, 2015 6:47:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2015 6:49:26 PM PST
D. Vicks says:
AMERICAN WARLORDS is good.Also try the Victory at Sea series of Films.

Posted on Nov 26, 2015 10:57:38 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
I see where Amazon censored the common three-word abbreviation for the Eastern enemy during the war, even though it was used universally. How can history even be discussed without running afoul of political correctness?

Posted on Nov 26, 2015 10:58:38 AM PST
Steelers fan says:
Here is a link to a period poster. Wonder if this too will be censored.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2015 12:06:06 PM PST
patrick says:
the J-word or the N-word..
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  21
Total posts:  90
Initial post:  Feb 2, 2013
Latest post:  Dec 15, 2015

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