last WWII book read? (Full Version)

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brian brian -> last WWII book read? (10/18/2011 9:46:39 PM)

only kinda-sorta OT.....things can get slow here naturally, so maybe we can each discover an interesting new volume to read. And, if you are up for it, add your thoughts on how it relates to the World in Flames game ecosystem, as they call such things these days.

At a used book sale I recently discovered "Blockade Busters" by one Ralph Barker, published initially in the UK in the 1970s, looks not difficult to find today as far as Google knows.

This book covers some obscure operations involving Sweden and Great Britain. Sweden had ball-bearings and other high-tech steel products that both sides wanted....the Germans obviously controlled the sea lanes around Sweden....what happened? First the British simply bought up as much of these materials as they could, as much to keep them from the Germans buying them. Then they decided to try and run the German blockade using Norwegian ships stranded in Swedish ports when Norway was conquered. The first convoy caught the Germans by surprise and made it through; the second one lost 6 of 10 ships, with 2 turned back to Sweden. After that the British accomplished the exports by sailing fast Motor Gun Boats through the Skaggerak on dark foggy nights. For the Swedes, it was a delicate dance to maintain their neutrality as they needed the good graces of both sides to be able to receive occasional small convoys of imports from North America.

A fascinating book about a small part of the war I had never heard of, and I, like many of you, have probably read too much on WWII. It kept reminding me of Colonel Hogan telling the boys "boy they really pasted those ball bearing factories at Dusseldorf last night." Fortunately WiF doesn't get detailed beyond the new aircraft specialty factories in Factories in Flames and this book is somewhat beyond the scope of the game. Perhaps some small house rules could be cooked up for each side to occasionally get a BP out of Sweden, in some far-off future versions of the game that integrate shifting neutral allegiances once General War starts, something that has always seemed mysteriously just out of reach in the game rules system.




ItBurns -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/19/2011 3:58:17 PM)

The last WWII book I read was:
"Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13-15".

I can give this book mixed reviews as the tremendous amount of detail given in the book both works for it and against it. The author uses individual people's accounts of the fighting which become tedious in the air battles as pilots appear, shoot a few bullets, drop a bomb, and run away ad nauseum. Few of the pilots give enough detail to separate their stories from the others.

However in the ship to ship confrontations the stories of individuals takes on an intensely interesting emotional edge (at least for me). From the destroyer captain who said, "setting the target of fire is the preferred means of night time illumination" to the guy who was blown in the air, landed on the barrel of a firing AA gun (breaking both legs), who then slid down the barrels into the arms of the officer in charge of battery who then threw out of the way - down a ladder to lie there stunned, the stories build a very detailed picture of the actions. You also get a feeling for how badly it sucked to have you ship sunk even if you managed to get off it. Depth charges exploding when the sunken ship reaches the proper depth, friendly ships running over you and sending you through the props were just some of the fun they faced.




warspite1 -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/20/2011 12:15:01 AM)

I have read some great books recently (some real dross too, but lets concentrate on the positive!). In no particular order:

Firstly - Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully. If you are in any way shape or form interested in the Battle of Midway and Japanese carrier ops then this is for you, Quite. Simply. Outstanding. All history book would ideally be written in this styleeee.

Secondly - a couple of books by Martin Middlebrook - The Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repluse & Convoy SC122 & HX229. Very well written, easily read.

Thirdly - Rising Sun by John Tolland. The Pacific war from the Japanese perspective.

Fourthly - The Battle for Norway and the German Invasion of Norway by Geirr H Haarr. Could do with more maps and dates, but that is nit picking - two excellent books on the subject that concentrate on the naval aspect of the Norwegian Campaign.

Fifthly - Dunkirk by Hugh Sebag Montefiore. A superb piece of work.

All seven books are great reads and thoroughly recommended.




ItBurns -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/20/2011 3:18:46 PM)

I can vouch for the 1st and 5th entrys on this list as I personally enjoyed both of them (although for some reason I keep thinking the author of Dunkirk is named Huge Seabag). Thanks for the entrys guys - I now have 4 more books to look forward to reading!




Ur_Vile_WEdge -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/20/2011 3:33:48 PM)

The only WW2 book I've managed to have the time to read recently is  The Beginning of the Road: The Story of the Battle for Stalingrad, by Chuikov.

It's... it has parts that are absolutely amazing, and other parts that are either ridiculous, or bald-faced propaganda.  And sometimes he takes a break from whatever he's describing to go off on bizarre tangents, like how he doesn't like Montgomery, how he does like Hershey chocolate, or that in a modern setting, women can be just as good soldiers as men, and people who think otherwise are just plain sexist.


Still, at least from where I was coming from, he gave me a very improved understanding about how a battlefield commander observes and communicates in combat, and his description of small unit tactics (he states early in the book that big victories are built out of little victories, and he even goes down to half-squad level tactics in assaulting a single room). Overall, I found it quite interesting.




SeaMonkey -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/20/2011 4:43:24 PM)

I've read so many WW2 books, that it was a thoroughly enlightening experience to purchase "Cry Havoc" by Joe Maiolo the other day at Half-Price BS. Talk about some intriguing information into the beginnings of WW2 through the diplomatic and economic idiosyncracies, "Cry Havoc" leads you into pondering a lot of "what ifs" of the variables of just how the conflict unfolded.

For someone designing a WW2 wargame of the strategic scale, CH would be a must read to create a beginning scenario on the lines of "Days of Decisions". Excellent, thought provoking read.




Palle -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/29/2011 8:42:33 AM)

My last one was Glantz' "Zhukov's Greatest Defeat". Nuff said, it is Glantz writing on what he knows most about and probably is the one who knows most about[&o]

I am myself a historian, so I did not bug down, but I suspect the average reader will; it is very dry reading and at the same time horrifying how Zhukov totally disregards human life and reality in his obsessive pursuit of his goal of defeating Army Group Centre. I am glad I was not a young Russian in 1942, and I always chuckle sardonically when some Russian goes on about how Zhukov was the greatest general ever and was never defeated. I always have, for I knew enough to know it was not true; Glantz provides the detailed study and analysis in this book.




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/29/2011 7:08:31 PM)

two intriguing entries on those last two responses, thanks.

interesting take on Zhukov vis-a-vis 'human life and reality'....I wonder if Glantz speculates on how Communist ideology influenced Soviet military decision-making? I look forward to new versions of WiF with a completely researched and exhaustively tested manpower rules system. The real-life USSR cut things pretty close in that regard.

'Cry Havoc' also sounds interesting....did it consider or discuss AJP Taylor's classic volume "The Origins of WWII" ?




paulderynck -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/30/2011 4:29:15 AM)

Here's my present and prior 2:

With Wings Like Eagles by Michael Korda. "The untold story of the Battle of Britain." This book is excellent and chock full of narrative and footnotes that make you say "wow, I never knew that!" The level of detail is amazing for a book on this subject first published in 2009.

Day of Infamy by Walter Lord. Basically an anthology of personal (both sides) anecdotes arranged in chronolgical order. Concentrates almost exclusively on the time period of the attack.

The Damned by Nathan M. Greenfield. The story of the two battalions of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles who were sent to be sacrificed in the defense of Hong Kong in December 1941. The first half is a well-detailed description of the battle (including some very negative after action reports and opinions on their performance authored by the British general commanding). The second half is the story of their PoW experience in Hong Kong and Japan. This part could have been a book in itself if only it could have been written earlier (copyright 2010) as so many of the survivors have now passed away. Almost all of them carried physical and mental scars from their experience which contributed to them having shorter lifespans than average.

Edit: spelling




Palle -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/30/2011 11:41:57 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: brian brian

two intriguing entries on those last two responses, thanks.

interesting take on Zhukov vis-a-vis 'human life and reality'....I wonder if Glantz speculates on how Communist ideology influenced Soviet military decision-making? I look forward to new versions of WiF with a completely researched and exhaustively tested manpower rules system. The real-life USSR cut things pretty close in that regard.

'Cry Havoc' also sounds interesting....did it consider or discuss AJP Taylor's classic volume "The Origins of WWII" ?


He does, but I cannot recall in which book(s). Glantz is IMO the world's foremost expert on the Eastern Front. He has been critizised for putting thoughts into the heads of the main antagonists, but he is always careful to write "Zhukov must have thought of the... [insert thought/subject]", when he does so, so that only the most dense of readers will not notice that this is Glantz' way od stating his opinion. Hence it does not bother me.

I recommend joining H-War, the military history mailing list where both he and Stephen Ambrose as well as other experts on military history can be found and sometimes discussed with.




Palle -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/30/2011 11:54:58 AM)

I would recommend this book BTW, I have yet to read it, but I know Jörg from H-War and he knows what he is doing. Those other list members who purchased the book (have more money than an unemployed Danish historian) all endorse it heavily.

Subject: ANN: New Book, Jorg Muth, COMMAND CULTURE
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2011 11:52:13 -0500


The University of North Texas Press is pleased to announce the publication of COMMAND CULTURE: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II, by Jörg Muth


ISBN 978-1-57441-303-8, hardcover $29.95. 368 pp. 31 b&w photos. Notes. Bib. Index.


In COMMAND CULTURE, Jörg Muth examines the different paths the United States Army and the German Armed Forces traveled to select, educate, and promote their officers in the crucial time before World War II. Muth demonstrates that the military education system in Germany represented an organized effort where each school and examination provided the stepping stone for the next. But in the United States, there existed no communication about teaching contents or didactical matters among the various schools and academies, and they existed in a self-chosen insular environment. American officers who finally made their way through an erratic selection process and past West Point to the important Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, found themselves usually deeply disappointed, because they were faced again with a rather below average faculty who forced them after every exercise to accept the approved “school solution.”


COMMAND CULTURE explores the paradox that in Germany officers came from a closed authoritarian society but received an extremely open minded military education, whereas their counterparts in the United States came from one of the most democratic societies but received an outdated military education that harnessed their minds and limited their initiative. On the other hand, German officer candidates learned that in war everything is possible and a war of extermination acceptable. For American officers, raised in a democracy, certain boundaries could never be crossed.


This work for the first time clearly explains the lack of audacity of many high ranking American officers during World War II, as well as the reason why so many German officers became perpetrators or accomplices of war crimes and atrocities or remained bystanders without speaking up. Those American officers who became outstanding leaders in World War II did so not so much because of their military education, but despite it.


“To the best of my knowledge there is nothing in print in either English or in German that offers the kind of analytical comparison Muth offers. The text is based on a truly exemplary coverage of published literature and very substantial work in relevant archives. The general message, though controversial and certain to lead to arguments, is buttressed by substantial evidence. His topic has immediate present-day relevance and will certainly appeal to those interested in military history and the conflicts in which the United States is currently engaged.”—Gerhard Weinberg, author of A World at Arms and Visions of Victory


“I can’t remember the last work I read that I enjoyed as much as this one. Command Culture is an important and long-lasting contribution to the debate over officer training in the United States. It is at once a study of the U.S. officer corps before World War II, a valuable analysis of U.S. and German officer training and education, and a stinging comparison of the two armies’ military cultures.”—Robert Citino, author of The German Way of War and Path to Blitzkrieg


“This work is a very useful counterpoint to Martin van Creveld’s Fighting Power in that it develops the fundamental differences in officer training between the U.S. and the Prussian/German armies in a context of military effectiveness, as opposed to the more usual approach of contrasting a democratic civilian system with autocratic militarism. Muth makes a strong case that effective command at all levels has a set of elements that do not depend on wider social, cultural, and political matrices. His challenge to the ‘new military history’ will generate controversy but cannot be dismissed.”—Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler’s Panzers and Patton and Rommel


“Jörg Muth’s book is about an interesting and significant topic. Although I disagree in some respects with his thesis, I recognize that it is well argued. Based on extensive research in primary and secondary sources, it is also well written.”—Edward M. Coffman, author of The Regulars: The American Army, 1898-1941



For more information with Google Preview, visit the book’s webpage http://web3.unt.edu/untpress/catalog/detail.cfm?ID=347




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/30/2011 6:22:56 PM)

A great example of pre-war American 'Command Culture' is in Barbara Tuchman's "Stilwell & the American Experience in China", a book I have read several times and I heartily recommend to any player of World in Flames. It is basically a biography of General Stilwell in addition to a good history of the American effort in China during the war.

During Corps-level exercises in Louisiana in 1940, Stilwell led one of the teams and "won" the wargame by breaking the "rules". (I think it was something as simple as attacking at night). Stilwell responded something along the lines of "In war, there are no rules".



Is that Korda book on the Battle of Britain one that comes to the conclusion that Germany could not have won the battle on raw production facts alone (bombs, ammunition, airframes, etc.)? My almost new brother-in-law was reading a 21st Century volume along those lines one Christmas a few years ago and I had planned to read his book, but my sister broke up with him.




paulderynck -> RE: last WWII book read? (10/30/2011 7:57:17 PM)

I'm not quite through the Korda book yet, but I'd say he makes this case as to the defeat:

Goring made exceedingly stupid decisions in an atmosphere of arrogance and over-confidence (even then likely drug-induced).
German failure to understand the significance of radar, ground control, and the true numbers of British fighters available (often estimating a third of actual strength).
German failure to keep doing the things that were working.
The seeming unknown fact that the appeasers Baldwin and Chamberlain were largely responsible for the decisions that allowed the construction of Fighter Command.
Above all else, the foresight and stubborness of Dowding, long before the war started, in the face of "the bomber will always get through" school of thought.

Edit: PS: having the pilot lives or dies rule in PiF is certainly a well-proven concept in light of this book. Love those orange results.




warspite1 -> RE: last WWII book read? (11/20/2011 9:10:47 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: warspite1

I have read some great books recently (some real dross too, but lets concentrate on the positive!). In no particular order:

Firstly - Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully. If you are in any way shape or form interested in the Battle of Midway and Japanese carrier ops then this is for you, Quite. Simply. Outstanding. All history book would ideally be written in this styleeee.

Secondly - a couple of books by Martin Middlebrook - The Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repluse & Convoy SC122 & HX229. Very well written, easily read.

Thirdly - Rising Sun by John Tolland. The Pacific war from the Japanese perspective.

Fourthly - The Battle for Norway and the German Invasion of Norway by Geirr H Haarr. Could do with more maps and dates, but that is nit picking - two excellent books on the subject that concentrate on the naval aspect of the Norwegian Campaign.

Fifthly - Dunkirk by Hugh Sebag Montefiore. A superb piece of work.

All seven books are great reads and thoroughly recommended.
Warspite1

To this list I would definitely add Richard Franks's Guadalcanal.




micheljq -> RE: last WWII book read? (11/21/2011 3:01:36 PM)

I did read "Normandy 1944 : The Canadian summer" for those interested in the canadian role in Normandy.  Interesting read, a lot about the Caen's sector.  I remember some parts where the canadian fought at the entrance of the city overnight againts panther's tanks with PIATs.  The 12th SS division, etc.

Also the ineffective "carpet bombing" of the city by the british strategic bombers which put the city in ruins and gave the german a lot of hiding places, hence the nickname "the little Stalingrad".




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (11/22/2011 2:49:32 AM)

I almost can't count this one as actually 'read' because I just continually skipped around a whole bunch. So I would not recommend Stephen Ambrose "D-Day: June 6, 1944" because it is far too full of far too similar remembrances from D-Day veterans. Naturally, the section on Omaha Beach was gripping. The rest, not so much.




oh, and the WiF applicability: almost zilch really. planning a good D-Day somehow in the game would probably be a better use of your time. just set up the 1944 scenario and go to it on your own. it's not as easy as it looks, something the Ambrose book does get across well.




Grotius -> RE: last WWII book read? (11/22/2011 3:29:36 AM)

Just started reading Max Hastings' "Inferno." Seems like a good single-volume history of the war. Enthusiastic review in this Sunday's New York Times, which compared it favorably with Gerry Weinberg's "World at Arms."




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (1/24/2012 1:40:57 AM)

durnit, I thought there was a mini review of Rick Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn" in here, must have been elsewhere. I just picked up his "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944" and it looks pretty interesting. But.....it is also labelled 'Volume two of the Liberation Trilogy'....so that took the wind out of my sails and it seems I will want to read the first one first? Anyone have these?

Quite a lucky score ... $2 on the donation table at my library.




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (12/27/2012 12:27:49 AM)

now avidly flipping around in Dirty Little Secrets of World War II, by James Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi. This will lead to many a quiz question for you fine folks methinks. Here is one now - why would I be excited to read a book by these two authors, even though I have consumed many more media projects by the two of them that are not books?


I am pretty sure there will be a little nugget of info in there somewhere I can exploit in my next game of WiF....Dunnigan never fails in this regard.




paulderynck -> RE: last WWII book read? (12/27/2012 5:33:28 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: brian brian

now avidly flipping around in Dirty Little Secrets of World War II, by James Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi. This will lead to many a quiz question for you fine folks methinks. Here is one now - why would I be excited to read a book by these two authors, even though I have consumed many more media projects by the two of them that are not books?


I am pretty sure there will be a little nugget of info in there somewhere I can exploit in my next game of WiF....Dunnigan never fails in this regard.


The originators of S&T.




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (12/27/2012 7:15:53 PM)

ahh but then one must know what S&T stands for --- now that would be a great web archive to have! actually one gets the impression that the Dirty Little Secrets books are just that, somewhat.

S&T = Strategy & Tactics magazine, which contained an SPI wargame in each issue. I sure miss it sometimes.




ezzler -> RE: last WWII book read? (12/27/2012 9:33:21 PM)

Just read most of The Decisive Duel: Spitfire vs 109.
Quite good but for such a long book a big flaw.

Spitfires didn't really fight 109's much after 1940. So becomes a bit pointless as it goes along.

The Max Hastings book Inferno was very good.
As was To Lose a Battle: France, 1940.

The Bitter Sea: The Brutal World War II Fight for the Mediterranean: 5/10. Good for unusual info on Vichy France, Syria, Greece politics and SOE operations. Not much for anything else though. A difficult read.




SLAAKMAN -> RE: last WWII book read? (12/28/2012 6:26:34 AM)

KURSK

[image]local://upfiles/7190/0B03FB8270B84E2FBA9BD85D3294FCA3.jpg[/image]




brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 6:31:14 PM)

I finished a WWII book recently, though it felt like it took nearly as long to read as the title: "The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad" by Harrison E. Salisbury, which also felt like it was 900 pages long.

It was an informative read for me, but I can't totally recommend the experience to others. Published in 1969, I'm sure there is much better history on this subject available now, and I note that David Glantz has written a book on this topic, that I hope to track down some day.

Of course, the 1960s were well before Glasnost/Perestroika/end-of-USSR significantly changed the research materials available to WWII historians of the Eastern Front, and this is a telling problem in this particular book, which is written 98% from the Soviet point-of-view, with just an occasional passing reference to German thinking, generally from Halder's diary.

So the book relies on extensive survivor interviews, which works well for depicting the utter horror of the siege, but not well at all for the military details that war-gamers would be interested in. There are some of those, but too many from the wrong subjects. I don't really need to read a blow-by-blow reminiscence of the Soviet naval evacuation of the minor Latvian port of Libau, nor do I need to know the name of an Engineer Lieutenant who wired a bridge for demolition during the German advance.

As for the civilian stories, there are simply too many of them. Concentrating the narrative on just a half-dozen survivors would have worked much better than a seemingly endless amount of people who one can't recall from their previous appearance, 50 densely packed pages previously.

The author does an interesting job of shining a light on the sad idiosyncrasies of Stalinist military command, as the author was indeed a New York Times reporter / Kremlinologist well versed in the byzantine nature of Soviet politics. That topic would be well worth it's own volume, or several actually.

So I look forward to reading on this subject in another, newer book. I picked up my copy at random at a thrift store, and I learned a lot. But only enough to want to learn it again, which isn't what I want out of investing a serious amount of time in a book. In this one, I eventually found myself simply skimming page after page to try and reach the end - even that took far too much time for the information obtained.




Shannon V. OKeets -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 6:45:41 PM)

Last month I finished "Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East" by David Stahel.

I recommend it unreservedly. I've read a half dozen (or more) other books on Barbarossa and the Nazi-Soviet war but this was by far the most knowledgeable/informed of the group.




warspite1 -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 7:30:02 PM)

The Soviets as Naval Opponents 1941-45 (Ruge)

A truly excellent book that describes the little written about fighting between the Kriegsmarine and the Soviet Navy. Its written from the German perspective by Vice-Admiral Friedrich Ruge and its clear that there is no love lost between the author and the Soviets (the cold war was still going strong when written) but is a great read nonetheless. Interested in naval warfare generally? or the Eastern Front? or both? This book is a must.




paulderynck -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 7:36:03 PM)

An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson. Excellent. Pulitzer Prize winner.

The Anglo American campaign in North Africa from Torch to Tunis. First of a trilogy, followed by a book on Sicily-Italy and then one from Overlord to the end of the war in Europe.

I can't recall a book on WWII I've enjoyed as thoroughly.




Jagdtiger14 -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 7:44:59 PM)

Reread: "Dunkirk: The Patriotic Myth" by Nicholas Harmon.

Awesome book dispelling the patriotic myths about the "spirit of Dunkirk". The book was written from info released after Britain's Secrets Act expired on the info.

I'll mention quickly here that it reveals war crimes and deception of her allies worse than you could imagine than what happened at Mers-el-Kebir.

In addition I'll also mention that Harmon has gotten things wrong when he didn't stick to the subject of Dunkirk: Hitler working with Stalin concerning Finland.




Centuur -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 8:33:08 PM)

I think my last book that I've read about the World War was the book: "Die Deutschen Panzer", which has technical descriptions and the history of the German tanks and Self Propelled Guns. The main part of the book is about the second World War, but also the modern German tanks (such as the Leopard series) are in it.

Very interesting was the fact that the German army trained officers in the use of tanks in the Soviet Union during the mid 1930's...





brian brian -> RE: last WWII book read? (6/3/2016 9:16:32 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Jagdtiger14

In addition I'll also mention that Harmon has gotten things wrong when he didn't stick to the subject of Dunkirk: Hitler working with Stalin concerning Finland.


ahh don't tease us, give up the details on that...







I read the 2nd Atkinson book, quite good. Want to track down the 1st and 3rd, will eventually.




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