Non-fiction--Shachtman to Sloan
Shachtman, Tom. Terrors and Marvels: How Science and Technology Changed the Character and Outcome of World War II (William Morrow and Company, 2002).
This penetrating and fascinating look at the link between science and warfare, focusing on the events of World War II, tells the whole story of the secret war carried on by engineers, physicists, chemists, and biologists, and the weapons they created.
Sheftall, M.G. Blossoms in the Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze (NAL Trade, 2005).
A compelling chronicle of men whose greatest desire was to die as warriors-and the legacy that still haunts those whose destinies were never fulfilled. In the last days of World War II, the Japanese unleashed a new breed of warrior-the Kamikaze, idealistic young men who believed there could be no greater glory than to sacrifice their lives in suicide attacks to defend their homeland. But what of those men who took the sacred oath to die-and lived? Soon after 9/11, ethnographer M.G. Sheftall was given unprecedented access to the cloistered community of Japan's last remaining Kamikaze corps survivors. The result is a poignant and unforgettable glimpse into the lives and mindsets of former Kamikaze pilots who never completed their final missions.
Shiotsuki, Masao. Doctor at Nagasaki (Tuttle Publishers, 1987).
In wartime, Japan, an idealistic young intern fresh from medical school is assgined to the very hospital to which many of the victims of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki are brought. In Part One of this book, he relates his deeply moving account of the hellish days and weeks that followed as he and his colleagues struggled to help their patients survive. Part Two consists of essays written after the war as the author continues his struggle to awaken the medical community and the world at large to the terrible--and incurable—after effects of the atomic bomb.
Shirer, William L. Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich (Simon & Schuster, Touchstone edition, 1990).
William L. Shirer's The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich is a monumental study of the 20th Century's most frightening moments. Now, 53 years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions, and way of life, were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer's description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.
Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, captured by the First Army, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his 6 year quest to dominate the world, only at the end, to see Germany go down in flames.
The combination of personal recollection and amassing of historical evidence distinguishes this book as one of the great historical works of any time. For instance, he recounts that, from his apartment in Plosslgasse, in Vienna, he personally witnessed how perhaps half of Vienna's 180,000 Jews bargained their way to freedom in 1938.
Shirer explains that Hitler believed that France and England were too weak to pose much of a threat to his ambitions to subjugate Czechoslovakia, and later Poland. The momentary relief of Russia as a threat to his domination of Europe as a result of the flurry of diplomatic activity that proceeded his invasion of Poland is fascinating. There is no relief, throughout his narrative, of the brutality of Hitler and such a large contingent of Germans who populate this narrative.
Shohno, Naomi. The Legacy of Hiroshima: It's Past, Our Future (Kosei Publishing Company, 1996).
With the threat of nuclear annihiliation looming over the human race, Legacy offers a message we cannot afford to ignore. The horrible effects of the bombing are explored from a dual perspective: 1) the human toll, and 2) the physical facts. The author closes with a plea for a daring new international vision that will make true peace—and the survival of the human race—a reality.
Showalter, Dennis. Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century (Berkley Trade, Reprint edition, 2006).
General George S. Patton and General Erwin Rommel served their countries through two World Wars. Their temperaments, both on and off the battlefield, couldn't be further apart from each other-but their approaches to modern warfare were very similar.
Written by a prominent military historian, Patton and Rommel takes a provocative look at both figures, intertwining the stories of the paths they took and the decisions they made during the course of the Second World War-and compares the lives and careers of two men whose military tactics changed the course of history.
Sides, Hampton. Ghost Soldiers (Anchor, 2002).
On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in the Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation. In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this daring raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides shows how the POWs banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and torture. Harrowing, poignant, and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.
Sledge, E.B. With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa (Presidio Press, 2007).
In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. Studs Terkel interviewed the author for his definitive oral history, The Good War. Now E. B. Sledge’s acclaimed first-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa returns to thrill, edify, and inspire a new generation. An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division–3d Battalion, 5th Marines. Even after intense training, he was shocked to be thrown into the battle of Peleliu, where “the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets.” By the time Sledge hit the hell of Okinawa, he was a combat vet, still filled with fear but no longer with panic. Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill–and came to love–his fellow man.
Sledge, E.B. China Marine: An Infantryman's Life after World War II (Oxford University Press, 2003).
Hailed as "one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war" by acclaimed author Paul Fussell, With the Old Breed remains the most powerful and moving account of the U.S. Marines in World War II. Now, with his long-awaited sequel, China Marine, E. B. Sledge continues his story where With the Old Breed left off and recounts the compelling conclusion of his Marine career. After Japan's surrender in 1945, Sledge and his company were sent to China to maintain order and to calm the seething cauldron of political and ideological unrest created by opposing factions. His regiment was the first Marine unit to return to the ancient city of Peiping (now Beijing) where they witnessed the last of old China and the rise of the Communist state. Sledge also recounts the difficulty of returning to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and resuming civilian life while haunted by shadows of close combat. Through the discipline of writing and the study of biology, Sledge shows how he came to terms with the terrifying memories that had plagued him for years. Poignant and compelling, China Marine provides a frank depiction of the real costs of war, emotional and psychological as well as physical, and reveals the enduring bond that develops between men who face the horrors of war.
Sloan, Bill. The Ultimate Battle (Simon and Schuster, 2007).
The Ultimate Battle is the full story of the last great clash of World War II as it has never before been told. With the same "grunt's-eye-view" narrative style that distinguished his Brotherhood of Heroes (on the Battle of Peleliu), Bill Sloan presents a gripping and uniquely personal saga of heroism and sacrifice in which at least 115,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from both sides were killed, as were nearly 150,000 civilians caught in the crossfire or encouraged to commit suicide by Japanese troops.
It is a story set against a panorama of more than 1,500 American ships, nearly two thousand Japanese kamikazes sworn to sink those ships, and two huge armies locked in a no-quarter struggle to the death -- the 541,000 GIs and Marines of the U.S. Tenth Army, and Japan's 110,000-man 32nd Army. Woven into the broader narrative, in Band of Brothers style, are the personal stories of men who endured this epic battle and were interviewed by the author. In many cases, their experiences are told here in print for the first time.
A few days after Japanese defenders surprised American assault troops by allowing them to land virtually unopposed on April 1, 1945, scouts of the 96th Division stumbled onto the outerworks of formidable Japanese defenses near Kakazu Ridge, where fierce fighting erupted. It would continue without respite for nearly three months as American forces used every weapon and strategy at their disposal to break through three cunningly designed Japanese lines of defense, each anchored by commanding high ground, intricate underground installations, and massed artillery. When one line was about to be breached, the Japanese would slip away to the next one, forcing the Americans to repeat the same exhausting and deadly "corkscrew and blowtorch" assaults all over again.
Much of the action in The Ultimate Battle unfolds among men pinned down under relentless fire on disputed hillsides, in the ruins of shell-blasted villages, and inside stricken tanks and armored cars. Sloan also takes readers aboard flaming ships and into the cockpits of night-fighter aircraft to capture the horror and heroism of men and vessels besieged by kamikazes.
When the battle was over, most of the GIs, Marines, and sailors who survived it were too worn out to celebrate. More than 49,000 of their comrades had been killed or wounded, and they knew that the even more brutal invasion of Japan's home islands loomed just ahead. But as Sloan makes clear, the slaughter at Okinawa helped to convince President Truman to use the atomic bomb against Japanese cities in the hope of shortening the war and averting a far more horrific loss of life.
Sloan, Bill. Brotherhood of Heroes (Simon and Schuster, 2006).
"A Band of Brothers for the Pacific, this is the gut-wrenching but ultimately triumphant story of the Marines' most ferocious—yet largely forgotten—battle of World War II. Between September 15 and October 15, 1944, the First Marine Division suffered more than 6,500 casualties fighting on a hellish little coral island in the Pacific. Peleliu was the scene of one of the most savage no-quarter struggles of modern times, one that has been all but forgotten—until now. Drawing on extensive interviews with Marine veterans, Bill Sloan follows a small group of young Americans through this incredibly vicious campaign and rescues their heroism on Peleliu from obscurity. Misled by faulty intelligence, the 9,000 Marine infantrymen who landed on Peleliu's beaches under withering enemy fire found themselves facing 11,000 Japanese embedded in an intricate network of caves and underground fortifications unrivaled in the history of warfare. At the heart of the Japanese defensive system was a maze of sheer cliffs and deep ravines known collectively as the Umurbrogol plateau. Endless strings of ridges bristled with concealed artillery, mortars, machine guns, and riflemen, making every inch of contested ground a potential death trap for Marines. Making matters worse, Japanese soldiers had been told by their commanders that they were to hold Peleliu at any cost in a suicidal defense of the island. Sloan's gripping narrative seamlessly weaves together the experiences of the men who were there, producing a vivid and unflinching tableau of the twenty-four-hour-a-day nightmare of Peleliu—a melee of nonstop infantry attacks, ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, night assaults, and exhausting forced marches in temperatures that topped 115 degrees. With casualties in some infantry units averaging more than sixty percent, Peleliu ranks with the bloodiest battles in the Corps' history. Exemplifying these staggering losses was K Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment (K/3/5), on whose gallant officers and enlisted men the narrative focuses from the initial assault on the beaches to the horrific struggle for the Umurbrogol's crags and crevices. Surprisingly, Peleliu received little public notice back in the States even as it was being fought and was virtually forgotten after the war, despite elements of controversy that are still debated by military strategists today. The invasion was ordered by Army General Douglas MacArthur to protect his flank as he launched his campaign to recapture the Philippines. But many experts believed then—and still maintain today—that the bloodshed at Peleliu was needless and that the island could have been safely bypassed. In Brotherhood of Heroes, readers witness the brutal spectacle of Peleliu close-up through the eyes of the Marines who fought there. Their story will stand with Ghost Soldiers and Flags of Our Fathers as a modern classic in military history and a riveting read."