Good World War 2 Books

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goose_2
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Good World War 2 Books

Post by goose_2 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:53 pm

I have been able to read some really great books as of late on World War 2.

In the past year I have finally finished:
William Shirer's masterpiece "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."
Absolutely brilliant insights and behind the scenes of much of the politics that went into the initial bluff and bluster with Germany and the other nations. Definitely worth the time to read through all 1000 pages.

Hitler's War by David Irving
Well thought out insights on minor changes that could have led to a seriously different outcome in the war year upon year.

The Blitzkrieg Myth by John Mosier
I found this fascinating and completely shook up many of the things emphasized by other books. He really does not like Fulton and is massively researched, which it would need to be in order to make the claims it makes. Very compelling and extremely thought provoking.

I would love to hear anyone's thoughts on any of these books as I found each of them fascinating on so many levels.

So...now I need direction/help.

Where to next? Any suggestions on any great World War 2 books I could read? I have read quite a few and those were just the ones I read in the past year.
I am breaking out my old Existentialist novels from when I was in college. Nothing like this old Lutheran reading good ole' Sartre to get the blood flowing.
So I would love to get an idea of what World War 2 book any of you would recommend.
I love early war stuff.

Thanks for the help.
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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by robman » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:39 pm

Early Western front:

Alastair Horne, To Lose A Battle
Good narrative history of the collapse of France in 1940. For the political background, there is another 1000-page Shirer tome, The Collapse of the Third Republic

John Lukacs, Five Days in London, May 1940
The real turning point of the war was political--Churchill's accession to PM and the decision to fight on

Peter Fleming, Operation Sealion
It was never even close

Winston Churchill, The Second World War
I confess that I never made it all the way through, but the first two volumes are brilliant. Churchill emphasizes the Battle of the Atlantic as the truly critical early-war front.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by Rood » Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:41 pm

I must second Alistair Horne's To Lose A Battle. Probably the best WW II history book I've read.

I liked Rick Atkison's trilogy a lot as well (An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle, The Guns at Last Light).

And then there's Richard J. Evans trilogy (The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, The Third Reich at War) which I consider an "updated version" of William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

And I have to mention the books by Cornelius Ryan of course.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by charge62 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 2:31 am

WWII reading recommendations for Panzer Corps forum.

Beware Churchill, Montgomery, and Galland. Churchill was a consummate politician and was not above manufacturing facts to suit the needs of the moment. Montgomery was a raving egomaniac with a disturbing tendency to avoid facts that didn't support his own greatness. Galland had a great deal in common with Montgomery. While Galland was a great fighter pilot, he was an atrocious combat leader.

Here are some basic recommendations for US and German European combat.

US Army in Europe:

Death Traps, by Belton Cooper, superb study of what attrition warfare means at the tactical unit level.

Dark December, by Robert Merriam. S perfectly done book on an incredibly complex and expansive subject, the Battle of the Bulge. This ranks with Cornelius Ryan for quality.

Patton: Ordeal & Triumph, by Ladislas Farago.

Bradley: A Soldier's Story, by Omar Bradley.

German Panzer Ops:
The following four books provide an excellent view of Panzer operations at all levels, as noted.

Tigers in the Mud, Otto Carius. Autobiography. Low level tactical panzer combat.

The Devil's General, Raymond Bagdonas. Biography of Graf von Strachwitz. High level tactical and operational level panzer ops.

Panzer Operations, Erhard Raus. Autobiography. Solid operational level analysis.

Panzer Leader, Heinz Guderian. Autobiography. Operational and strategic panzer operations.


If you want to see the development of German Panzer theory, then try Actung Panzer, by Heinz Guderian.


I'll throw in some Battle of Britain related books as I've been researching it for the past 4 years.

The Most Dangerous Enemy, by Stephen Bungay. Now the definitive work on the BoB. I've only found 2 errors in it, both related to German operations. Structure is based on major subjects, not chronology.

Spitfire on My Tail, by Ulrich Steinhilper and Peter Osborne. To my knowledge, this is the only English language story of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot who fought in the BoB. A phenomenal source. If you are going to read this, I recommend doing so before Bungay's book; you may better understand Bungay's writing about the LW.

The Narrow Margin, by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster. For several decades this was the go-to book about the BoB. It remains a good source for its chronological organization.

Battle of Britain, by Patrick Bishop. Fairly well done. More of a popular history like something Ken Burns would produce. For this reason, it tends to include more errors than Bungay's work.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by BiteNibbleChomp » Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:32 am

I second the support for Churchill's epic.

Admittedly I was introduced to Turtledove in February and haven't bothered much with actual history for quite a while - AH is more fun :D

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by captainjack » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:30 am

I agree about Churchill - he's a great writer but his interpretation of events is (not suprisingly) very pro-Churchill. I've not made it to his WW2 stuff but his works about WW1 and how Gallipoli could have worked are well presented and persuasive.

Achtung Panzer is good, and The Last Days of the Third Reich by James Lucas is a very well written look at the last few months of the war - not surprisingly it's a bit grim, but full of insights that are often overlooked.

Most of the rest I've come across are a mixed bag.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by goose_2 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 7:23 pm

Whoa I am looking this up:

Alastair Horne, To Lose A Battle

And it details a 3 volume trilogy dealing with all 3 battles between Germany and France.

Have you guys read all 3 novels.

I think I am going to have to get all of them it just looks to awesome to just pass it up.

Let me know if you would recommend getting all 3 or just focus on ww2 novel.

Thanks compadres. :lol:
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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by stan23 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:13 pm

If you liked The Blitzkrieg Myth by John Mosier, you might also enjoy reading The Blitzkrieg Legend by Karl-Heinz Frieser, possibly the most well researched study of the 1940 Campaign in the West, (the Bibliography alone is almost 80 pages), particularly emphasizing the breakthrough at Sedan. Cheers from Virginia.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by Rood » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:36 pm

The Fall of Paris and The Price of Glory both by Alistair Horne are still on my reading list.
Both books are not about WW 2 though!

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by edahl1980 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:09 pm

The forgotten soldier by Guy Sajer.
A young boy enlisted with the Grossdeutchland when war is going downhill.
If you are gonna read one book about world war 2, this is it.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by philabos » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:12 pm

I am usually not a fan of single volume histories of the entire war, but this one is outstanding:

A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
by Gerhard L. Weinberg

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by ptje63 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:26 pm

I enjoyed Stephen Zaloga's books on tank warfare, his * vs * title series, like "Panther vs. Sherman" - the particular book cured me from my (and many others) thoughts that the Panther was the tank that prevailed over the Sherman at all times and takes a look at each tank from different perspectives.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by Razz1 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:54 am

The complete History of World War II

Armed Service Memorial Edition

Francis Trevelyan Miller

http://www.biblio.com/book/complete-his ... fgodaoIHsw

Factual book from Allied perspective written for the US Government and all soldiers who were in the war

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by jeff00t » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:34 am

and the reference from antony Beevor : world war 2 ? it is for me the best book i have ever read on ww2.
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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by IttoOgami » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:57 pm

Oh, there are so many.
No wonder the "juggernauts" are mentioned, those big books covering the whole war like Shirer, Beevor and so on.
Won't say they are not great reads, but often they miss out what happened tactically on the battlefield.

A great book that views cautiously the operational scale is "Blitzkrieg Legende" by Karlheinz Friesser, one of the few outstanding german military historians.
Its translated in English, I think, and covers what happened in the first stages of the France campaign 1940 until the battle of Dunkirk.

Personally I read in the last years a lot of the uncountable smaller american works, like the ones officers do for exams. They are of very varying quality, but cover up small-scale battles where you cannot read much about anywhere else. And they are for free, often.
One of these works I really liked was "In final defense of the Reich" by a guy named Stephen Rusiecki. Its about the demise of one of the last SS units, 11th regiment of the 6th SS mountain division, in spring of 1945.
Its a good account about how one of the countless small-scale battles on the western front in 1945 went out. Like the kind of operations they deal with in the movie "Fury", but how it was really like.

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by PanzerTax » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:42 am

I would be most wary of those authors who are associated with Holocaust Denial and glossing over the vile ideological heart of the Third Reich.
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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by robman » Mon Aug 29, 2016 6:43 pm

And let us not forget the great fiction that emerged from the war, whether written by those who participated in it, or by subsequent generations. Here are some of my favorites:

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five
Joseph Heller - Catch-22
Vasily Grossman - Life and Fate
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Pierre Boulle - The Bridge Over the River Kwai
Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient
James Jones - From Here to Eternity
Väinö Linna - The Unknown Soldier

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Re: Good World War 2 Books

Post by TSPC37730 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:04 am

Some favourites...

Armageddon & Retribution (separate titles) by Max Hastings. Read these not too long ago. Short stories & tales of the battles for Germany & Japan respectively.

The Sharp End by Ellis. Gives you a really honest feel about what it must have been like as an allied grunt.

The Nuremberg Raid by Martin Middlebrook. It's focused on one raid but gives a background which presents a full picture of what RAF bomber crews faced.

World War II Day by Day by Sommerville. A neat breakdown of major events through the entire war day by day.

The Forgotten Soldier by Sajer. Story of a soldier in the SS - also mentioned by Tiger III above.

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