'-------------------------------------------------- Cascoly Books: World War II

Cascoly Books - World War II

  • The Second World War - The best single volume study of the war available.
    • This account of WW II, though controversial, is rich in fresh perception, interpretation and opinion. In addition to penning a fast-paced campaign chronicle, Keegan ( The Mask of Command ) makes a convincing case for the prime motivations of Allied and Axis leaders, pinpoints the practical results of Allied summit conferences and defines the war's geopolitical dimensions. He maintains that Stalin's purge of the Soviet high command was beneficial in certain respects, and explains why Guadalcanal was a cheap victory for the U.S. Keegan argues that Churchill's hope that resistance forces would "set ablaze" Europe was a romantic notion, and that the British "descended to the enemy's level" in the strategic bombing of Germany. Most provocative are his comments on Roosevelt: while many historians would agree that FDR was the most enigmatic of the war's major figures, few will concur that his policies were "profoundly ambiguous." From Publishers Weekly


      In contrast to Martin Gilbert's broader The Second World War  Keegan's work is more a battle campaign. His strength as a military historian ( The Face of Battle, The Price of Admiralty ) is in his ability to synthesize the order of battle without getting bogged down in minutae. The mighty German-Russian struggles are well covered, as is the war in the Pacific. While Robert Leckie's Delivered from Evil: The Saga of World War II ( LJ 9/1/87) is nearly twice as long as Keegan's book, integrates biographical material into the narrative, and is less analytical than Keegan's, Keegan's is extremely well written; the reader can almost visualize the movement of an army without looking at the maps. On another level, however, Keegan tends to be simplistic (e.g., in his discussion of the causes of World War II, in his view that the war would have come even without Hitler) and skim over many topics. Nevertheless, academic and larger public libraries will find this in demand. From Library Journal

      Six Armies in Normandy : From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris
      Times Atlas of the Second World War
      Who's Who in World War II
      The Battle for History : Re-Fighting World War II
      The Great Battles and Leaders of the Second World War : An Illustrated History;

       The Mask of Command;

  • Splendid Blond Beast - Simpson -- Examines the funding of Hitler's Germany by US & British financiers during the 1920'2-30's
  • Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell Spanish Civil War

    John Ellis

  • One of the few contemporary historians to rival Keegan's treatments of WWII is Carlo D'Este. His earlier books on Sicily and Anzio are not always available, but grab them if you find them in a used bookstore. Meanwhile, Decision in Normandy is the best book I've read on Normandy. (Keegan's 6 Armies is close, but is not as comprehensive.) His biography of Patton is amazing in the number of new facts and stories he reveals about this legendary commander.


  • World War II in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 Vol 2
  • West Point Atlas of American Wars
  • Heisenberg's War - THomas Powers describes the controversial Nazi efforts to build an atomic bomb.
  • Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II history rewoven
  • Samurai -- memoirs of a Japanese fighter pilot who survived the war. Excellent descriptions of aerial combat and the campaigns in the South Pacific
  • Panzer Leader - Guderian - memoirs of one of Germany's best Panzer generals
    • More World War II classics

      I discovered Pipeline to Battle a few years ago, in its original 1943 pocket book edition, along with yellowed paperback editions of the other books described below. . It's one of a series of books written shortly after the war by active giving a better overall understanding of World War II, mostly at the tactical level.  Other similar books include
      • Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. A forerunner of Band of Brothers, describing the Allied infantry advance thru Germany in 1944-5
      • Away All Boats! The Battle Cry of the South Pacific by Kenneth Dodson 1954. First hand accounts of the Pacific amphibious operations in World War II, from the point of view of the fictional attack transport ship Belinda which carried the landing craft and invasion troops. It's more well known than the others, being on the Naval Academy's reading list for amphibious warfare.
      • Panzer Leader - Heinz Guderian - Gives an inside look at the leaders of the Nazi Party and the German Army from one of the most innovative and revolutionary military thinkers. Guderian was largely responsible for the development of the combined arms Blitzkrieg strategy that gave Germany it's early successes. Luckily for the Allies, Hitler did not follow Guderian's later advice particularly in under estimating the Soviet Union. Guderian was dismissed after the failure to capture Moscow in 1941, but brought back to try to stave off the Russian counter offensive in 1943
      • Samurai - autobiography of the Japanese Zero ace

      WWII Fiction:

    • Away All Boats - the South Pacifc campaigns from the point of view of those who ran the landing craft
    • Cross of Iron - the Eastern front from the point of view of stranded German infantry behind Russian lines. [The James Coburn movie's not too bad either]
    • Cryptonomicon

      Other links

    • How I Won the War
    • World War II Naval vessels
    • World War I & II aircraft
    • Men at war
    • Elements of Architecture
    • Chronos: Interactive Historical Timelines
    • Antique maps
    • Politics & Economics
    • Historical maps
    • Consumer price index 1790-1990 - incredible, unprecedented inflation of the late 20th century
    • Battlefields
    • Civil War

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