Nalty, Bernard C. Right to Fight: African-American Marines in World War II (History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1995).
Compact, well-illustrated history on the long neglected topic of courageous service provided by African American Marines in the Pacific Theater.
Nagai, Takashi. The Bells of Nagasaki (Kodansha International, 1994).
On Thursday, August 9, 1945, at two minutes past eleven in the morning, Nagasaki was wiped out by a plutonium atomic bomb which exploded at a height of five hundred meters over the city. Among the wounded on that fateful day was the young doctor Takashi Nagai, professor of radiology at the University of Nagasaki. Nagai succeeded in gathering a tiny group of survivors--doctors, nurses, and students--and together they worked heroically for the wounded until they themselves collapsed from exhaustion and atomic sickness.
As he lay dying of leukemia, Dr. Nagai wrote The Bells of Nagasaki, vividly recounting what he had seen with his own eyes and heard from his associates. It is a deeply moving and human story. He tells how it dawned on him that this awful havoc was indeed the work of an atomic bomb, how he speculated about the American scientists who had put it together, how he picked up a leaflet dropped by American planes warning the Japanese to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, how he and his companions shed tears over the defeat of their country.
Nagorski, Andrew. The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II (Simon and Schuster, 2007).
The Battle for Moscow was the deadliest battle of World War II--and the deadliest battle of all time. Between September 30, 1941 and April 20, 1942, seven million German and Soviet troops took part in the battle, and 2.5 million of them were killed, taken prisoner, missing or severely wounded. As German troops approached Moscow, half of the city's population fled, while others looted stores, staged strikes and attacked those who were escaping. In the end, the German drive fell short, but Stalin's regime was so embarrassed by how close they came, by the mistakes the Soviet dictator made that allowed them to do so, and the behavior of many of its own citizens, that the battle was given short shrift in their history books.
Both Hitler and Stalin (briefly allied and now newly at war) intruded themselves into the strategies for their armies. Hitler was so overconfident--even though his generals warned him--that the German army went into battle in the Russian fall with no winter clothes. Stalin was so in denial that the majority of Russian soldiers had no weapons. They had to wait for a comrade to fall in order to acquire a gun. Soviet soldiers following the front lines were under orders to shoot anyone who retreated. Meanwhile, the German soldiers, well equipped with armaments, and well trained but with no winter clothes, were freezing to death by the thousands.
Nelson, Anne. Red Orchestra (Random House, 2009).
In this unforgettable book, distinguished author Anne Nelson shares one of the most shocking and inspiring–and least chronicled–stories of domestic resistance to the Nazi regime. The Rote Kapelle, or Red Orchestra, was the Gestapo’s name for an intrepid band of German artists, intellectuals, and bureaucrats (almost half of them women) who battled treacherous odds to unveil the brutal secrets of their fascist employers and oppressors.
Based on years of research, featuring new information, and culled from exclusive interviews, Red Orchestra documents this riveting story through the eyes of Greta Kuckhoff, a German working mother. Fighting for an education in 1920s Berlin but frustrated by her country’s economic instability and academic sexism, Kuckhoff ventured to America, where she immersed herself in jazz, Walt Disney movies, and the first stirrings of the New Deal. When she returned to her homeland, she watched with anguish as it descended into a totalitarian society that relegated her friends to exile and detention, an environment in which political extremism evoked an extreme response.
Greta and others in her circle were appalled by Nazi anti-Semitism and took action on many fronts to support their Jewish friends and neighbors. As the war raged and Nazi abuses grew in ferocity and reach, resistance was the only possible avenue for Greta and her compatriots. These included Arvid Harnack–the German friend she met in Wisconsin–who collected anti-Nazi intelligence while working for their Economic Ministry; Arvid’s wife, Mildred, who emigrated to her husband’s native country to become the only American woman executed by Hitler; Harro Schulze-Boysen, the glamorous Luftwaffe intelligence officer who smuggled anti-Nazi information to allies abroad; his wife, Libertas, a social butterfly who coaxed favors from an unsuspecting Göring; John Sieg, a railroad worker from Detroit who publicized Nazi atrocities from a Communist underground printing press; and Greta Kuckhoff’s husband, Adam, a theatrical colleague of Brecht’s who found employment in Goebbels’s propaganda unit in order to undermine the regime.
For many members of the Red Orchestra, these audacious acts of courage resulted in their tragic and untimely end. These unsung individuals are portrayed here with startling and sympathetic power. As suspenseful as a thriller, Red Orchestra is a brilliant account of ordinary yet bold citizens who were willing to sacrifice everything to topple the Third Reich.
Newton, Adolph W. Better than Good: A Black Sailor’s War, 1943-1945 (History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1995).
Poignant narrative from a World War II sailor who was one of the first African Americans assigned to an integrated navel ship.
Newton, Steven H. Kursk: The German View (Westview Press, 2003).
This compilation of German material on the Battle of Kursk (1943) is about as user-friendly as a Tiger tank, but just as indispensable in the right place. Newton has assembled a variety of primary source material from high-ranking German participants either not previously available in English or found only in translations of dubious value. The first part of the book goes to a new translation of a study of Operation Citadel (the great tank battle of Kursk) edited by General Theodor Busse, which offers the perspectives of key tank, infantry, and air commanders. The rest is devoted to essays, mostly by corps commanders facing the Soviet offensive that followed the German defeat at Kursk, but with one perceptive set of comments by a senior railroad officer who throws light on the role (and limitations) of the Soviet partisans in the general logistical nightmare that was the Eastern Front. Both the introduction and the conclusionary third section, which Newton pens, add insightful editorial comments with a tendency to debunk the German myths of "we almost won," and support the characterization of Kursk as a battle the Germans should not have fought because they could not have won it at an acceptable cost. Largely inaccessible to the beginning student of the decisive campaign of World War II, the book may be hailed as invaluable by the serious one.
Nicholas, Lynn H. The Rape of Europa (Vintage, 1955).
Every few months you'll read a newspaper story of the discovery of some long-lost art treasure hidden away in a German basement or a Russian attic: a Cranach, a Holbein, even, not long ago, a da Vinci. Such treasures ended up far from the museums and churches in which they once hung, taken as war loot by Allied and Axis soldiers alike. Thousands of important pieces have never been recovered. Lynn Nicholas offers an astonishingly good account of the wholesale ravaging of European art during World War II, of how teams of international experts have worked to recover lost masterpieces in the war's aftermath and of how governments "are still negotiating the restitution of objects held by their respective nations." (Amazon.com)
Norman, Elizabeth M. We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese (Atria, 2000).
"This is a gripping book. Elizabeth Norman presents a war story in which the main characters never kill one of the enemy, or even shoot at him, but are nevertheless heroes. . . . First on Bataan, then moved to Corregidor, they were under almost constant shell fire, were always hungry, close to starvation, had horrendous diseases to deal with despite a shortage or even a complete lack of proper medicines, getting little or no sleep, nothing in the way of recreation--yet they were a true band of angels, inspiring all the men whom they were there to help. In a squalid prison camp, they remained giants, despite their small size. . . . They were the bravest of the brave, who endured unspeakable pain and torture. Americans today should thank God we had such women." (Stephen E. Ambrose)