MeanMrMustardHave just finished reading The Battle Of Normandy 1944 by Robin Neillands. Now I know there are countless books on this battle, and I've read a good few of them, but this one really offers something different. Instead of sticking to the usual route of this division went here, and fought this division, then took this town etc. etc., it takes regular sidesteps from the action to look at the popular 'myths' surrounding the battle. The most significant of these is the role of the British and Canadian armies. All too often you hear about the Brits and Canadians taking their time and being too timid (and as the author points out, always accused of 'drinking too much tea') getting stuck outside Caen etc., whilst the Americans rushed about doing all the hard work and capturing all the important towns. A point that is less commonly stated is that whilst the Americans were largely facing reserve troops and infantry divisions, the British and Canadians were attacking 6 panzer divisions. What's more this is exactly what Montgomery wanted (who incidentally, was the overall commander of ALL allied armies in Normandy, not just the Brits, as SPR and I'm sure other sources would have you believe). The whole idea for Overlord was for the Brits and Canadians to wear down the German forces and keep the Panzer divisions around Caen, giving the Americans the chance to swing round and break out around St. Lo with minimal resistance. Time and again throughout the campaign the Brits were accused of slowness and unwillingness to fight by the Americans, when often they faced far greater resistance than their Allies. Patton's remark during the closing of the Falaise Pocket, that he should be allowed to move forward and 'push the Brits into the sea for another Dunkirk' is a prime example of this. Whilst his men were driving around largely undefended parts of the country capturing huge swaths of land, the Brits and Canadians were facing the last determined resistance from the Panzer divisions they had been fighting since D-Day, which more than explains the reason for their lack of progress. In fact when Patton did eventually move up to take Argentan and came against some proper resistance, he found that he had just as much difficulty in making progress as his Allies. In general the author spends a lot of time picking apart the accusations, myths and often downright lies that surround the campaign, whilst maintaning a largely unbiased opinion. Quite apart from all that it's an excellent study of the battle itself, and has numerous first person accounts, many lasting a page or more, that really drive home some of the horrors of the fighting. A sound recommendation from myself. Both Antony Beevor's books, Stalingrad and Berlin, are recommended as well. He has also written a book about the battle for Crete, which I have been on the lookout for, and one about the Spanish Civil War, which I have and am going to start on soon. For something a bit lighter, 'Popski's Private Army' by Vladimir Peniakoff is an excellent read, the autobiographical account of a Belgian-Polish man who is working in Egypt at the start of the war and joins the British army. He sets up a LRDG style reconnaissance group and the book is the story of their exploits in the desert and Eastern Italy. Some fantastic descriptions of the type of 'secret warfare' that went on, and there's some real 'boy's own' moments in it, such as when the author disguises himself as an Italian officer and walks through an occupied town, even stopping to shout at a lower ranking German soldier in made up Italian! Like I say a bit of a change from the slaughter described in Stalingrad etc., but still interesting from a military point of view so quite refreshing. Harry.
Hmm, the book "The Battle Of Normandy 1944 by Robin Neillands" sounds interesting :nodding:
I am just in the process of reading Sir Basil Liddel Hart's "History of the Second World War". As far as I've got now, it's great. It doesn't go into tank or infantry weapon details, but it's a great book in terms of tactics and strategy altogether. I can really recommend this one; though I'm not sure if it's still in print.
Another book I also like is "The Second World War" (probably) by Raymond Cartier, a Frenchman. Same basical thing as Hart's book, it's about WW2 in general. Easy to read and very profound knowledge.
A book that shook me up quite a bit is "Im Schatten der Siege" by Hans Killian. It's more or less an autobiography of a German field surgeon on the Eastern front at the near the Leningrad front. It's great, but rather harsh reading.
Another book that's quite good is the autobiography of Adolf Galland: "Die Ersten und die Letzten". Galland was with the Luftwaffe from the very start and lived through its rise and decline. I especially like the first part where he tells about how he became addicted to flying in the first place.
I can also recommend two other books that deal with WW2, but in a special way: "Das Boot" by Lothar-Günther Buchheim and "Stalingrad" by Theodor Plievier. Buchheim was a Kriegsberichterstatter with the German Navy, in other words he had to do all sorts of propaganda stuff. I'm not quite if he actually ever was on a submarine, but at least he tells about life on a sub very vivid and in a detailed way. The movie from the 80s was really good, the book is better IMO. The vocabulary is rather indecent in some places, to say the least. "Stalingrad" would have to be called a novel based on a historic event. It's great reading, though - especially because Plievier goes into details about the grunts very much and what Hitler's decision of defending Stalingrad meant to them.
EDIT: Whoops, I almost forgot about the books on D-Day I read. Shame on me... :) Both "The longest day" (by Cornelius Ryan) and "Dawn of D-Day" by David Howarth are great reading.
Hey I have heard of Adolf Galland's book and have been trying to locate an English translation. Can you tell me what "Die Ersten und die Letzten" is in english? Oh, and the name of the publisher would be helpful too.
"Enemy at the Gates" is a great read, the movie shouldv'e been called something else, though. "Company Commander" by Charles MacDonald, great about small infantry unit battles "The Battle of Huertgen Forest" also by MacDonald " A Time of Trumpets", great Ardennes battle recap reading " Barbarossa" right now theres one I have called "Guadalcanal" thats unbelievable. Great writing about the sea, land and air battles. I'll find out author "A Bridge Too Far " should be required reading
I really liked those books with drawings of tanks and planes from a lot of nations, dont know what they're called
i have read "the forgotten soldier" by guy sajer too, there is no doubt that in parts it is very moving (particually when at the end his own mother walks past him because she doesn't recognise him) and also the death of some of his colleagues, but for further information on this auther and book take a look at http://members.shaw.ca/grossdeutschland/sajer.htm anyone who has read the book and can remember parts of the storyline will find that link of interest. personally i put the book on the same level as the novels of Sven Hassel, which is in no way a criticism! incidentally i think the forgotten soldier would make a great film! regards,
Hassel's book are great, but I'm not sure if they are just fictional novels, or factual, or mixed. Well the general events are of course factual, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Was he really there, did he do that, etc. At least the first book in his series, which I think is factual, differs here and there from the rest. Well, all that aside, they are nice reading, I should really read them again, been too long since I read them (except for one that I read this summer again) :)
Other than that, I've read Beevor's book about Berlin, planning on trying to locate his Stalingrad book from the library too.
Mostly, though, I've read books about the Finns. Mostly infantry stuff earlier, both factual and fictional, but during the military service where I incidentally had plenty of free time and not too much to do, I also read quite a few books about the Finnish Air Force in WW2, as well as two books about the Finnish Armored Force's doings in the war. Currently reading a book about the Armored Force too. Foreigners should really read a bit about what Finland did, if they can get their hands on a book that tells about it reliably. I'm sure many, maybe even most, would be surprised.
thought of another one in my library "Frozen Hell" about the Russo-Finnish War. What an eye-opener
" Frozen Hell", about the Russo-Finnish war is great also
The Third Reich by Michael Burleigh 2000
Replaces Shirer as a definitive history.
Tobruk 1941 by Chester Wilmot 1945
Scourge of the Swastika, Knights of Bushido by Lord Russell of Liverpool 1954
Short histories of both the Nazi and Imperial Japanese war crimes.
The Naked Island by Russell Braddon 1952
POW by Ian Ramsey 1985
Retreat from Kokoda by Raymond Paull 1958
Siegfried by Charles Whiting 1983
The Nazis' last stand against the west, September 1944 - February 1945
German Uniforms of WWII by Andrew Mollo 1976
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII by Chambers & Doyle w/ Jenz advising 2nd edition 2001
Military Small Arms of the 20th Century, 7th Edition by Hogg & Weeks 2001
Steel Storm by Tim Ripley 2002
Waffen SS Panzer Battles of the Eastern Front 1943-1945
Wehrmacht 1939-1945 also by Tim Ripley 2003
Hitlers Samurai by Bruce Quarrie 1983
Any Opsrey Military New Vanguard publication