Calvocoressi, Peter, et. al. The Penguin History of the Second World War (Penguin, Third revised edition, 2001).
Originally published under the title Total War, this acclaimed analysis of the causes and courses of World War II has stood the tests of time and criticism. The first part deals with the war in the West, and the second covers the war in the Pacific Theatre. The three highly regarded authors of this classic resource create a fluid narrative that provides vivid portraits of the war leaders and an unflinching exploration of the devastation and hardship of this major world conflict.
Carter, Allene G. Honoring Sergeant Carter: Redeeming a Black World War II Hero’s Legacy (Amistad, 2003).
Moving story of how Sergeant Eddie Carter’s family succeeded over a period of years to gain Medal of Honor recognition for his heroic action with General George Patton’s 12th Armored Division during the Rhineland campaign.
Cavanagh, William. Battle East of Elsenborn (Pen and Sword, 2005).
The Battle East of Elsenborn closely examines the role of Oberstgruppenfuhrer Joseph 'Sepp' Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army in the massive German winter counteroffensive. Hitler had tasked Dietrich with making the main effort east of the Elsenborn Ridge and against the positions of the US 99th Infantry Division. Hitler's plan was to reach deep into Allied-held territory and seize the vital port of Antwerp. In the event this daring and desperate counterattack failed but it was a close run thing. Credit for the outcome must ultimately go to the American soldiers who, some new to combat and others battle-hardened, fought valiantly to blunt the German advance and ultimately bring it to a halt just east of Elsenborn. The book also studies the actions of six individuals who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, their nation's highest bravery award. It tells of the courageous story of men who believed in their heritage, and who, through their heroic teamwork and dedication, stopped the main effort of the German Sixth Army.
Childers, Thomas. Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II (Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1996).
After their son died when flak destroyed his plane on April 21, 1945, the parents of Howard Goodner endured the frustrating process of finding out from the War Department exactly what happened. They never did find out. In 1992, Goodner's mother died, having kept through the years a cache of letters her son had written home. They inspired Childers, nephew to the long-dead airman and a professional historian of Nazi electoral politics, to reconstruct his uncle Howard's and his crewmates' wartime experiences. This result, a searching and emotional exploration, powerfully evokes the tension and relaxation cycle of flying combat missions, and as Childers builds toward the fateful day, he deeply and deftly involves readers to the extent that Goodner and comrades seem to be their own relatives and their own inconsolable losses. As Childers stands on the spot from which his uncle departed on the last (and unnecessary) mission, as he presses toward the truth through witnesses to the crash and the relative documents, it must be a stony heart that doesn't share his sorrow and tears. Imaginative and emotive, and factually unerring, this outstanding remembrance is possibly the most original title among this year's anniversary works. (Gilbert Taylor for Booklist)
Christman, Al. Target Hiroshima: Deak Parsons and the Creation of the Atomic Bomb (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1998).
Based on recently declassified Manhattan Project documents, including Deak Parson's personal logs, this book offers an unvarnished account of this unsung hero and his involvement in some of the greatest scientific advances of the 20th century. Deak Parsons: "A naval officer with the heart of a sailor and the searching mind of a scientist."
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: The Gathering Storm, Volume 1 (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1986).
The Gathering Storm depicts the rise of Hitler and the indifference of the leaders of the European democracies to the clouds of the gathering storm. Churchill incorporates contemporary documentation and his own reminiscence in this opening memoir.
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: The Finest Hour, Volume II (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1986).
Their “finest hour" refers to Britain that struggled alone to survive overwhelming German advantage; detailed reconstruction of the bombing of London, the Battle of Britain. Churchill, here wartime Prime Minister, incorporates contemporary documentation and his own reminiscence.
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: The Grand Alliance, Volume III (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1986).
The New York Public Library, in looking back on the greatest books of the past century, called Churchill's history "monumental" and said that the author "drew upon thousands of his own memoranda and documents in British archives, but in the end, this epic is structured on his personal experiences and expresses his courage and astonishing self-confidence."
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: The Hinge of Fate, Volume IV (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1986).
From uninterrupted defeat to almost unbroken success: a year when Rommel is gradually thrown back in North Africa, and in the Pacific the tide turns.
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: Closing the Ring, Volume V (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1986).
The fate of the Allies turns with the Normandy invasion after Hitler's defeat at Stalingrad. For the first time, the end of the war with an Allied victory seems possible. Churchill wartime Prime Minister through this period, incorporates contemporary documentation and his own reminiscence.
Churchill, Winston. The Second World War: Triumph and Tragedy, Volume VI (Penguin Books, 2005).
The end of World War II, the crushing of Germany and the devastating bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the entrance into an uneasy and clouded peace as Churchill is dismissed from his office and the Allies embark upon a tragic, misguided and atomic-haunted Cold War. The concluding volume of Churchill's great chronicle of the War resulted in his winning the Noble Prize in Literature.
Citino, Robert, M. Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (University Press of Kansas, 2007).
For Hitler and the German military, 1942 was a key turning point of World War II, as an overstretched but still lethal Wehrmacht replaced brilliant victories and huge territorial gains with stalemates and strategic retreats. In this major reevaluation of that crucial year, Robert Citino shows that the German army's emerging woes were rooted as much in its addiction to the "war of movement"--attempts to smash the enemy in "short and lively" campaigns--as they were in Hitler's deeply flawed management of the war.
From the overwhelming operational victories at Kerch and Kharkov in May to the catastrophic defeats at El Alamein and Stalingrad, Death of the Wehrmacht offers an eye-opening new view of that decisive year. Building upon his widely respected critique in The German Way of War, Citino shows how the campaigns of 1942 fit within the centuries-old patterns of Prussian/German warmaking and ultimately doomed Hitler's expansionist ambitions. He examines every major campaign and battle in the Russian and North African theaters throughout the year to assess how a military geared to quick and decisive victories coped when the tide turned against it.
Citino, Robert, M. The German Way of War (University Press of Kansas, 2005).
Citino focuses on operational warfare to demonstrate continuity in German military campaigns from the time of Elector Frederick Wilhelm and his great "sleigh-drive" against the Swedes to the age of Adolf Hitler and the blitzkrieg to the gates of Moscow. Along the way, he underscores the role played by the Prussian army in elevating a small, vulnerable state to the ranks of the European powers, describes how nineteenth-century victories over Austria and France made the German army the most respected in Europe, and reviews the lessons learned from the trenches of World War I.
Through this long view, Citino reveals an essential recurrent pattern—characterized by rapid troop movements and surprise attacks, maneuvers to outflank the enemy, and a determination to annihilate the opposition—that made it possible for the Germans to fight armies often larger than their own. He highlights the aggressiveness of Prussian and German commanders--trained simply to find the enemy and keep attacking--and destroys the myth of Auftragstaktik ("flexible command"), replacing it with the independence of subordinate commanders. He also brings new interpretations to well-known operations, such as Moltke's 1866 campaign and the opening campaign in 1914, while intro-ducing readers to less familiar but important battles like Langensalza and the Annaberg. The German way of war, as Citino shows, was fostered by the development of a widely accepted and deeply embedded military culture that supported and rewarded aggression. His book offers a fresh look at one of the most remarkable, respected, and reviled militaries of the past half millennium and marks another sterling contribution to the history of operational warfare.
Cohen, Hilda Stern. Words that Burn Within Me: Faith, Values, Survival (Dryad Press, 2008).
A collection of photographs, essays, stories, snippets of interviews, and poems detailing Cohen's experiences during the war and the Holocaust as a German resident. Hilda talks about happier times in her village and with her sister, the trials of childhood and being bullied, but soon the reality of politics sets in and her family is forced to leave their ancestral home. Cohen's writing is sparse but detailed in its observations of those around her in the ghetto and the concentration camps. Her keen eye examines the impact of starvation on her fellow neighbors and on her family members, and it also sheds light on how well her family and herself cope with their situation.
Cohn, Marthe. Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany (Three Rivers Press, Reprint edition, 2006).
Marthe Cohn was a beautiful young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Her family sheltered Jews fleeing the Nazis, including Jewish children sent away by their terrified parents. But soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. As the Nazi occupation escalated, Marthe’s sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. The rest of her family was forced to flee to the south of France. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army.
As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders.
When, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily while helping defeat the Nazi empire. At its heart, this remarkable memoir is the tale of an ordinary human being who, under extraordinary circumstances, became the hero her country needed her to be.
Conant, Jennet. 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos (Simon and Schuster, 2006).
In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant, charismatic head of the Manhattan Project, recruited scientists to live as virtual prisoners of the U.S. government at Los Alamos, a barren mesa thirty-five miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thousands of men, women, and children spent the war years sequestered in this top-secret military facility. They lied to friends and family about where they were going and what they were doing, and then disappeared into the desert. Through the eyes of a young Santa Fe widow who was one of Oppenheimer's first recruits, we see how, for all his flaws, he developed into an inspiring leader and motivated all those involved in the Los Alamos project to make a supreme effort and achieve the unthinkable.
Cornwell, John. Hitler's Scientists: Science, War, and the Devil's Pact (Viking, 2003).
When Hitler came to power in the 1930s, Germany had led the world in science, mathematics, and technology for nearly four decades. But while the fact that Hitler swiftly pressed Germany's scientific prowess into the service of a brutal, racist, xenophobic ideology is well known, few realize that German scientists had knowingly broken international agreements and basic codes of morality to fashion deadly weapons even before World War I. In Hitler's Scientists, British historian John Cornwell explores German scientific genius in the first half of the twentieth century and shows how Germany's early lead in the new physics led to the discovery of atomic fission, which in turn led the way to the atom bomb, and how the ideas of Darwinism were hijacked to create the lethal doctrine of racial cleansing.
By the war's end, almost every aspect of Germany's scientific culture had been tainted by the exploitation of slave labor, human experimentation, and mass killings. Ultimately, it was Hitler's profound scientific ignorance that caused the Fatherland to lose the race for atomic weapons, which Hitler would surely have used. Cornwell argues that German scientists should be held accountable for the uses to which their knowledge was put-an issue with wide-ranging implications for the continuing unregulated pursuit of scientific progress.