Non-Fiction--Bonisch to Brooks
Bonisch, Fred. Children of Our Own War (Authorhouse, 2006).
From the Writer: “It is 1943 and the big war in Europe is now in its fourth year. The Allies have begun to take the fight to Germany, and bombing raids on German cities are now an almost daily and nightly occurrence. As cities are being destroyed, panic-stricken survivors are frantically searching for relatives to find shelter with. Refugees, driven out of recently occupied Russian territories in the east, are now arriving with only small pieces of luggage as their only possessions and they are in desperate need of places to stay. Our small house, which we already shared with another family, soon nearly doubles its occupancy as desperate relatives in need of shelter kept arriving. All eligible men are away fighting at one of Hitler's many fronts. The overwhelming need to support this effort has left the country drained of nearly everything and has forced mothers alone to protect and provide for their families during this most difficult period of history. Fear, hunger, and the struggle to survive have become a way of life. As children we did not always understand the serious time in which we lived, however, we learned to assess the fear from the expressions on our mother's faces, especially so during the frequent air raids. Often it was their despair that we quietly observed while they struggled with the constant inability to adequately provide for their families. In late1943, my family received the news that Dad had recently become a prisoner of war. By late1944, it became clear that Germany was losing the war. Fear that Russian troops would reach our area ahead of American or British forces became the real concern now. Just days prior to Germany's capitulation, our occupation occurred, and this eventwould forever remain in my memory and directly affect much of my young life. The events, as described, were real and have been written as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Following our liberation, we came to realize the enormous atrocities that had occurred and learned of people whose suffering had been far greater than ours, and to those people I wish to offer my deepest respect.”
Bradley, James. The Imperial Cruise (Little, Brown and Co., 2009).
In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft on the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in history to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea. Roosevelt's glamorous twenty-one year old daughter Alice served as mistress of the cruise, which included senators and congressmen. On this trip, Taft concluded secret agreements in Roosevelt's name.
In 2005, a century later, James Bradley traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's mission and discovered what had transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing and Seoul. In 1905, Roosevelt was bully-confident and made secret agreements that he though would secure America's westward push into the Pacific. Instead, he lit the long fuse on the Asian firecrackers that would singe America's hands for a century and set the stage for WWII.
Bradley, James. Flags of Our Fathers (Bantam, 2006).
The picture of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima in 1945 may be the most famous photograph of the twentieth century. Its fame was immediate, and immediately hitched to the wagon of publicity. The president summoned home the soldiers pictured to promote the government's final bond drive of World War II. After some confusion, the men were identified, but only three of the six flag-raisers survived the Battle of Iwo Jima. The survivors became celebrities. Bradley, the son of corpsman John Bradley, probes the nature of heroism--its appearance versus the reality. The reality was what happened on Iwo Jima: an 84 percent casualty rate inflicted on the flag-raisers' unit, Company E of the Second Battalion of the Twenty-eighth Regiment of the Fifth Division of the U.S. Marine Corps. In the course of his narrative, Bradley reconstructs Easy Company's war, starting with background material on the men, proceeding to their enlistment in the marines (the navy, in Bradley's case), training, landing on Iwo Jima, and fighting for Mount Suribachi, capped by the fluke of the photograph. The artifice of the bond drive elevated the survivors, who regarded their actions (if they spoke of them at all) as unworthy of being elevated above those of the marines who died. A riveting read that deals with every detail of the photograph--its composition, the biographies of the men, what heroism is, and the dubious blessings of fame. (Gilbert Taylor for Booklist)
Bradley, James. Flyboys (Little, Brown and Company, 2003).
Flyboys is the true story of eight young American airmen who were shot down over Chichi Jima.Seven of these young men were captured by Japanese troops and taken prisoner. One was rescued by an American submarine and went on to become president. The reality of what happened to the seven prisoners has remained a secret for almost 60 years. After the war, the American and Japanese governments conspired to cover up the shocking truth. Not even the families of the airmen were informed what had happened to their sons. It has remained a mystery-until now. Critics called James Bradley's last book “the best book on battle ever written.” Flyboys is even better: more ambitious, more powerful, and more moving. On the island of Chichi Jima those young men would face the ultimate test. Their story-a tale of courage and daring, of war and of death, of men and of hope-will make you proud, and it will break your heart.
Braithwaite, Rodric. Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War (Vintage, 2007).
The defense of the Soviet capital against the German invasion of 1941 is cast in this history against the ordinary Muscovite's call to arms. Braithwaite, formerly a British ambassador in Moscow in the late 1980s, focuses on firsthand experiences that capture the difficulties of living, both materially and psychologically, in the atmosphere of Stalinism. The German attack produced widespread dread, both for what the Nazis portended and, more immediately, the draconian reintensification of Stalin's terror. The dictator also appealed to patriotism, however, and the author probes the motivations of Moscow's students, workers, artists, and professionals in joining military units, confirming that not everyone signed up under the gun. Personal stories in the dozens fit into Braithwaite's chronicle of the German bid for the capital, which reached Moscow's outskirts and provoked panic before being repulsed at horrendous cost in December 1941. Conversantly connected to his interviewees and to documentary sources, Braithwaite delivers a tragically human Moscow of 1941, victorious but traumatized. (Gilbert Taylor for Booklist)
Brandt, Nat. Harlem at War (Syracuse University Press, 1996).
This misleadingly titled book concerns not only Harlem but also the experience of all black America during WWII, as well as the political and social conditions that fueled the Harlem riot of 1943, a harbinger of urban riots in the 1960s and beyond. Brandt (Massacre at Shansi) has capably synthesized a broad range of sources and added several interviews to portray a shameful aspect of our not-so-distant past. He first sketches the racial discrimination and economic ills prevalent in New York's largest black community in the 1920s and '30s. Such conditions, duplicated around the country, meant that black Americans were acutely aware of the hypocrisy involved in fighting Nazi Germany while still tolerating Jim Crow, both at home and in the armed forces. In fact, racial clashes took place at military bases, at defense plants and in the cities. A white-on-black riot in Detroit led to a tepid official response. And when a black soldier was shot by a white cop in Harlem, the neighborhood suffered six deaths, nearly 700 injuries and property damage of $5 million. Ending prophetically, Brandt states that the city "is ignoring" Harlem again and "the community is neglected." (Publishers Weekly)
Brey, Ilaria Dagnini. The Venus Fixers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009).
In 1943, with the world convulsed by war and a Fascist defeat in Europe far from certain, a few visionaries—civilians and soldiers alike—saw past questions of life and death to realize that victory wasn’t the only thing at stake. So was the priceless cultural heritage of thousands of years.
In the midst of the conflict, the Allied Forces appointed the monuments officers—a motley group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists—to ensure that the great masterworks of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The journalist Ilaria Dagnini Brey focuses her spellbinding account on the monuments officers of Italy, quickly dubbed “the Venus Fixers” by bemused troops.
Working on the front lines in conditions of great deprivation and danger, these unlikely soldiers stripped the great galleries of their incomparable holdings and sent them into safety by any means they could; when trucks could not be requisitioned or “borrowed,” a Tiepolo altarpiece might make its midnight journey across the countryside balanced in the front basket of a bicycle. They blocked a Nazi convoy of two hundred stolen paintings—including Danae, Titian’s voluptuous masterpiece, an intended birthday present for Hermann Göring.They worked with skeptical army strategists to make sure air raids didn’t take out the heart of an ancient city, and patched up Renaissance palazzi and ancient churches whose lead roofs were sometimes melted away by the savagery of the attacks, exposing their frescoed interiors to the harsh Tuscan winters and blistering summers. Sometimes they failed. But to an astonishing degree, they succeeded, and anyone who marvels at Italy’s artistic riches today is witnessing their handiwork.
In the course of her research, Brey gained unprecedented access to private archives and primary sources, and the result is a book at once thorough and grandly entertaining—a revelatory take on a little-known chapter of World War II history. The Venus Fixers is an adventure story with the gorgeous tints of a Botticelli landscape as its backdrop.
Bryant. Michael S. Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953 (University Press of Colorado, 2005).
Years before Hitler unleashed the "Final Solution" to annihilate European Jews, he began a lesser-known campaign to eradicate the mentally ill, which facilitated the gassing and lethal injection of as many as 270,000 people and set a precedent for the Nazis' mass murder of civilians.
In Confronting the "Good Death," Michael Bryant tells the story of the U.S. government and West German judiciary's attempt to punish the euthanasia killers after the war. His fascinating work is the first to address the impact of geopolitics on the courts' representation of Nazi euthanasia, revealing how international power relationships played havoc with the prosecutions. Drawing on primary sources and extensive research in archives in Germany and the U.S., Bryant offers a provocative investigation of the Nazi campaign against the mentally ill and the postwar quest for justice. His work will interest general readers and provide critical information for scholars of Holocaust studies, legal history, and human rights.
Breuer, William B. Secret Weapons of World War II (Wiley, 2002).
Secret Weapons takes a fascinating look at the clandestine battle between the brilliant scientists and code breakers of the Allies and the Axis powers. Filled with over seventy tales of ingenious technological innovations, Secret Weapons Of World War II focuses on the human drama of the men and women involved, many of whom were as eccentric as they were brilliant. In a fascinating look at the behind-the-scenes duel between the scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and technicians on both sides, Breuer tells of the ingenious weapons that were crucial to winning the war--from radar, huff-duff (high frequency direction finding), and invisible radio beams to secret codes, electronic guidance systems, homing devices, and submarine detection equipment. Vivid, fast-paced, and suspenseful, Secret Weapons of World War II captures the high-wire tension as enemies race to harness new technologies to create powerful secret weapons and devices that turned the tide of the war.
Brooks, Geoffrey. Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross (Pen and Sword, 2006).
Josef "Sepp" Allerberger was the second most successful sniper of the German Wehrmacht and one of the few private soldiers to be honoured with the award of the Knight's Cross. An Austrian conscript, after qualifying as a machine gunner he was drafted to the southern sector of the Russian Front in July 1942. Wounded at Voroshilovsk, he experimented with a Russian sniper-rifle while convalescing and so impressed his superiors with his proficiency that he was returned to the front on his regiment's only sniper specialist. In this sometimes harrowing memoir, Allerberger provides an excellent introduction to the commitment in fieldcraft, discipline and routine required of the sniper, a man apart. There was no place for chivalry on the Russian Front. Away from the film cameras, no prisoner survived long after surrendering. Russian snipers had used the illegal explosive bullet since 1941, and Hitler eventually authorised its issue in 1944. The result was a battlefield of horror. Allerberger was a cold-blooded killer, but few will find a place in their hearts for the soldiers of the Red Army against whom he fought.