Non-Fiction--Page to Pringle
Page, Martin. Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major: The Songs and Ballads of World War II (Panther, 1975).
With an introduction by Spike Milligan of the songs of the Second World War, written and sung by the soldiers who fought it, and the songs that Vera Lynn did not sing.
Patton, George S. War As I Knew It (Mariner Books, Reissue edition, 1995).
Adored by many, loathed by some, General George S. Patton, Jr., was one of the most brilliant military strategists in history. War As I Knew It is the personal and candid account of his celebrated, relentless crusade across western Europe during World War II. First published in 1947, this absorbing narrative draws on Patton's vivid memories of battle and his detailed diaries, from the moment the Third Army exploded onto the Brittany Peninsula to the final Allied casualty report. The result is not only a grueling, human account of daily combat and heroic feats - including a riveting look at the Battle of the Bulge - but a valuable chronicle of the strategies and fiery personality of a legendary warrior.
Paulin, Tom. The Invasion Handbook (Faber and Faber, New edition, 2003).
The Invasion Handbook opens with the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919, which excluded Germany from the community of nations, and with the answering but ill-fated attempt of the Locarno Treaties of 1925 to restore the torn fabric of Europe. It evokes Weimar culture, Hitler's rise to power, and the beginnings of the persecution of the Jews. The poem is a triumph of technique, a simultaneous vision that proceeds by quotation and collage, catalogue and caption, prose as well as verse--a myriad staging of historical realities through the poet's intense and bitter scrutiny of the particulars of time and place. It affirms the struggle and the memory of a generation upon whom the doors of living memory are now closing and it extends concerns which have long haunted Tom Paulin's poetry: the relation of art to war and to questions of national identity, the search for peace and for a shared civic culture.
Pearson, Judith L. The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy (The Lyons Press, 2005).
Virginia Hall left her comfortable Baltimore roots of privilege in 1931 to follow a dream of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. After watching Hitler roll into Poland, then France, she decided to work for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret espionage and sabotage organization. There she learned techniques her wealthy Baltimore contemporaries would never have imagined—demolitions, assassination, secret radio communications, and resistance organization. She was deployed to France where the Gestapo imprisoned, beat, and tortured spies.
Against such an ominous backdrop, Hall managed to locate drop zones for the money and weapons so badly needed by the French Resistance, helped escaped POWs and downed Allied airmen flee to England, and secured safe houses for agents in need. Soon, wanted posters appeared throughout France offering a reward for the capture of “the most dangerous of all Allied spies . . . We must find and destroy her.” By winter of 1942 Hall had no choice but to flee France via the only route possible: a hike on foot through the frozen Pyrénées Mountains into neutral Spain. The escape was arduous, and Hall’s artificial leg (nicknamed “Cuthbert”) became very painful. In a radio message to London during the journey, she mentioned that Cuthbert was giving her trouble. Forgetting her leg’s nickname, London replied, “If Cuthbert is giving you trouble, have him eliminated.”
Upon Hall’s return to England, the OSS recruited her and sent her back to France disguised as an old peasant woman. While there, she was responsible for killing 150 German soldiers and capturing 500 others, sabotaging communications and transportation links, and directing resistance activities. But the Gestapo had become wise to her ways, and inexorably tightened the noose around her day by day. This is the true story of Virginia Hall, a remarkable woman ignored by history books for over fifty years.
Perry, Mark. Partners in Command (Penguin Press, 2007).
The depth and significance of the relationship between George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower has eluded historians for years. In Partners in Command, acclaimed historian and journalist Mark Perry gets to the heart of arguably the most fateful partnership in American military history, a union of two very different men bound by an epic common purpose. He follows Marshall and Eisenhower's collaboration from the major battles in North Africa and Italy to the planning and execution of the D-Day invasion, the crisis of the Battle of the Bulge, and the postwar implementation of the Marshall Plan, and the establishment of Eisenhower's leadership of NATO. Perry shows that Marshall and Eisenhower were remarkably close colleagues who brilliantly combined strengths and offset each other's weaknesses in their strategic planning, on the battlefields, and in their mutual struggle to overcome the bungling, political sniping, and careerism of both British and American commanders that infected nearly every battle and campaign. Finally, Marshall and Eisenhower collaborated in crafting the foreign policy and military infrastructure that became the foundation for winning the Cold War.
Petrova, Ada and Peter Watson. The Death of Hitler (W.W. Norton, 1996).
It is one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century: how, exactly, Adolf Hitler died and what happened to his remains. With access to the Russians' Hitler Archive, this book reveals not only what happened after the Russians captured Hitler's bunker but also why the Soviets felt the details of his death had to be suppressed.
Potter, Lou. Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts during World War II (Harcourt Brace Jovanich. 1992).
Supplement to a PBS American Experience segment with particular emphasis on the contributions of the 761st “Black Panther” Tank Battalion.
Pressburger, Chaya. The Diary of Petr Ginz (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007).
Lost for sixty years in a Prague attic, this secret diary of a teenage prodigy killed at Auschwitz is an extraordinary literary discovery, an intimately candid, deeply affecting account of a childhood compromised by Nazi tyranny. As a fourteen-year old Jewish boy living in Prague in the early 1940s, Petr Ginz dutifully records the increasingly precarious texture of daily life. With a child’s keen eye for the absurd and the tragic, he muses on the prank he played on his science class and then just pages later, reveals that his cousins have been called to relinquish all their possessions, having been summoned east in the next transport. The diary ends with Petr's own summons to Thereisenstadt, where he would become the driving force behind the secret newspaper Vedem, and where he would continue to draw, paint, write, and read, furiously educating himself for a future he would never see. Fortunately, Petr's voice lives on in his diary, a fresh, startling, and invaluable historical document and a testament to one remarkable child's insuppressible hunger for life.
Pressler, Mirjam. Treasures from the Attic (Doubleday, 2011).
Some version of it comes to all families. An aged parent passes, leaving a lifetime’s artifacts and curiosities. But when Gerti Elias cleaned out the attic of her late mother-in-law, she discovered historians’ gold. Helene Elias was the sister of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father. Their mother, Alice, was the family matriarch and the clearinghouse for news from her four children. They visited her regularly. They sent photos and drawings. They wrote voluminously. Alice saved all of it—a sheet anchor for a way of life disrupted, then destroyed. Helene preserved it. And Mirjam Pressler, award-winning German author and translator, edited an inchoate mass of material into a compelling literary and historical mosaic.
Treasures from the Attic tells the story of a family scattered to the corners of Europe by the Great Depression, the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust. Yet the Franks had centuries-deep roots in Germany, and in Frankfurt. The first third of the book reconstructs the family’s rise into a German-Jewish upper bourgeoisie that flourished during the Second Empire. From peddlers they rose to businessmen; Anne’s grandfather Michael became a banker. The Franks saw no contradiction between Jewish and German identities. Germany had been good to the family, and the Franks reciprocated. Michael’s support of military charities was recognized before his death in 1909 by Kaiser Wilhelm himself. Otto and his two brothers served in World War I; Alice was a volunteer nurse. All returned home safely. But the economic and political circumstances of the early 1930s impelled fundamental changes.
Pringle, Heather. The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust (Hyperion, 2006).
In 1935, Heinrich Himmler established a Nazi research institute called The Ahnenerbe, whose mission was to send teams of scholars around the world to search for proof of Ancient Aryan conquests. But history was not their most important focus. Rather, the Ahnenerbe was an essential part of Himmler’s master plan for the Final Solution. The findings of the institute were used to convince armies of SS men that they were entitled to slaughter Jews and other groups. And Himmler also hoped to use the research as a blueprint for the breeding of a new Europe in a racially purer mold.
The Master Plan is a groundbreaking exposé of the work of German scientists and scholars who allowed their research to be warped to justify extermination, and who directly participated in the slaughter -- many of whom resumed their academic positions at war’s end. It is based on Heather Pringle’s extensive original research, including previously ignored archival material and unpublished photographs, and interviews with living members of the institute and their survivors. A sweeping history told with the drama of fiction, The Master Plan is at once horrifying, transfixing, and monumentally important to our comprehension of how something as unimaginable as the Holocaust could have progressed from fantasy to reality.