THE WORLD WAR TWO GROUP discussion

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BOOK DISCUSSIONS > Book that started it all......

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message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan (MightyMjolner) | 7 comments I was perusing my bookshelves, deciding which book I would read next when it struck me that one of my bookcases was completely filled with just WWII books. Every row. So I did a quick inventory on how many I actually had, and including my 24 volume Encyclopedia set of WWII I came up with roughly 75 books. Most I've read, some more than once. Others are kept in waiting, so to speak, for when it's the right time to read them. I tend to read a series of books on one topic, such as the Pacific War, or some about the Eastern front, etc. This got me thinking about which book amongst all these got me started on my WWII kick (my wife would probably say obsession). The very first book I read on the subject was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. Very interesting read. Which book got you started on the subject of the War?


message 2: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 7983 comments That's a hard question Ryan, trying to remember sooo long back which book it was that really got me hooked on WW2. I think for me it was "Enemy at the Gates" by William Craig.

Enemy at the Gates  The Battle for Stalingrad by William Craig by William Craig


message 3: by Singleton (new)

Singleton Mosby | 90 comments Interesting question.
My main interest used to be the American Civil war and I occasionally read a (big-selling) WWII book. But about two or three years ago I read Antony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor which triggered my interest in a not so well known battle south of Berlin and bought this book Slaughter at Halbe  The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army by Tony Le Tissier. That started it all. In the last couple of years I read and bought over 150 books on WWII (oops)


message 4: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments Blimey that's difficult - my interest was pricked as a boy reading the Victor and things like Commando/War Picture Library/battle Picture Library etc. An example here "War Picture Library"  Up and at 'em!  10 of the Most Battle-Scarred War Picture Library Comic Books Ever! (War Picture Library) by Steve Holland.

Since then I have read tons more fiction and non-fiction - my first non-fiction when I was still at school would probably be about D-Day or Arnhem. I also recall my Dad buying books such as this and my reading them Pacific Onslaught  7th Dec. 1941/7th Feb. 1943 by Paul M. Kennedy by Paul M. KennedyPaul M. Kennedy


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex McCabe (alexmc81) | 6 comments My WWII obsession (and that's really the only word for it) came more from the fact that I was born on Pearl Harbor Day (different year) the and grew up in the Philippines while WWII history surronds you more than any thing else that being said, the first book I remember reading cover to cover on the subject was an account by a journalist who was sailing with the USSLexington when it was sunk at the Battle of Coral Sea. Probably the best WWII book I have yet read is 'Midway' by Craig Symonds.


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian | 65 comments Ryan wrote: "Which book got you started on the subject of the War? "
Being born in Nov 1939 my childhood was overshadowed by WWII. Early memories of V1s and V2s and fathers coming home after the war. I seem to have been reading about WWII all my life, but the first books I read were probably those published in the late forties/early fifties by the fighter pilots and POWs - by Paul Brickhill, Douglas Bader, Pierre Clostermann, Russell Bradon etc. (Also of influence were the 'escape' films of the fifties - very popular in the UK). Shirer's book and Chester Wilmot's The Struggle for Europe which I read in my teens were the first 'heavyweight' histories I read. The Struggle for Europe by Chester Wilmot


message 7: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Gee GV i still have a dozen of the Ballantine Illustrated books
on my shelf from my teenage yrs. not that you make me
feel old as your Dad or anything, ahem, hehehe.

Geevee wrote: "I also recall my Dad buying books such as this and my reading them ."


message 8: by Mansoor (new)

Mansoor Azam (azam69) | 41 comments the fact that i m a 4th generation soldier (great grand dad fighting in WW I and grand dad in WW II) got me on WW II track in some way i guess. but the book and writer that was my first and made it my obsession was Paul caurells
Foxes of the Desert  The Story of the Afrikakorps (Luftwaffe Profile Series) by Paul Carell


message 9: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 7983 comments Good book there Mansoor!


message 10: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (last edited Dec 28, 2011 09:09AM) (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments Hi Mansoor, I think you make an interesting point on family connections to the military. I had family members serve at Dunkirk and in Burma, Italy and North Africa (grandfather and uncle with Royal Artillery and Royal Sussex Regt in the British 4th Indian Division) and at Sea, and so was interested to learn more of these campaigns and the actions they were in.


message 11: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments It was probably a kids addition book on D-Day and the fact that my Dad was in the Army Air Corps and two uncles in the Navy and one in the Marines during WWII and tv shows such as The Gallant Men and Combat and the film The Longest Day that got me started at a young age.


message 12: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 7983 comments Loved watching "Combat" as a kid as well and all those classic war movies; "Battle of Britain", "The Longest Day", etc.


message 13: by Wade (new)

Wade (wade1) | 303 comments First read on WW2" The Longest Day" by Cornelius Ryan-sometime in the mid to late 1960's was when i first read this book. Have been hooked on WW2 tiles since.


message 14: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments Another great film released in July of 1945 is The Story Of GI Joe. Robert Mitchum's first film I believe.


message 15: by John (new)

John | 67 comments Dr. Michael wrote: "Another great film released in July of 1945 is The Story Of GI Joe. Robert Mitchum's first film I believe."

According to IMDB it was his 28th movie!


message 16: by John (new)

John | 67 comments Probably what got me started was a comic book series called "Sgt. Rock". A cigar chewing , grizzled U.S. soldier from back when all I read was comics. "Combat" "Twelve O'Clock High" and later "Rat Patrol" (which was terrible) were popular when I was a Kid.


message 17: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments Sgt. Rock comics. Yes, how could I have forgotten them. I even learned the Rifleman's Ceed from Sgt. Rock."This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine...'


message 18: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments Thanks for the clarification on Mitchum John. Still, it's a great film. Burgess Meredith plays Ernie Pyle.


message 19: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments John, do you remember the series The Gallant Men? It only ran one season 1962 to 63.


message 20: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments I was just thinking the same thing Dr M, you beat me to a comment, my Dad watched all these shows so I did too, Combat was a
good one also it probably lasted the longest. how can one forget - Checkmate King 2, This is White rook over? i feel like i served with Sarge Saunders and Lt. Hanley!

i do recall Gallant Men, that took place in Italy and they called Germans Jerries all the time.

it may have just been on 1 season but back then they'd have 30 some episodes in a season.

12 oclock high was another good series. They'd
have guest stars/actors so they could have
some plot changes.

John, yeah there was a lull in TV shows about war then Rat Patrol came on and it was ridiculous and/or I was getting old enough to wonder why the same couple jeeps were defeating the whole Afrika Korps every episode, and who can forget Hans Gudegast? as
the German Lt.? that may have been the show's only
innovation which was to put a face on the opponent.


Dr. Michael wrote: "John, do you remember the series The Gallant Men? It only ran one season 1962 to 63."


message 21: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Yep good book Mansoor, just finished it a couple weeks ago. Carell has a compelling style that
makes you feel you're along for the ride on
a panzer.

Mansoor wrote: "the fact that i m a 4th generation soldier (great grand dad fighting in WW I and grand dad in WW II) got me on WW II track in some way i guess. but the book and writer that was my first and made it..."


message 22: by John (new)

John | 67 comments Dr. Michael wrote: "John, do you remember the series The Gallant Men? It only ran one season 1962 to 63."

I had forgotten about "The Gallant Men". Now that you mention it I do remember the name but I don't remember watching it as much as I remember "Combat".

I think at that time the war shows had stiff competition from westerns - which were another of my favorites.


message 23: by Dr. Michael (last edited Dec 29, 2011 03:37PM) (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments I purchased the Combat dvd set a couple of years ago. That was a damn good tv show. Westerns certainly did dominate tv in the 50s and early 60s before the spy genre of the mid to late 60s.


message 24: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Dr. Michael wrote: "I purchased the Combat dvd set a couple of years ago. That was a damn good tv show. "

may i borrow it?


message 25: by Dr. Michael (new)

 Dr. Michael Galvin (DrGalvin) | 135 comments Sure, come on by.


message 26: by Allan (last edited Dec 30, 2011 09:14AM) (new)

Allan | 50 comments John wrote: "Probably what got me started was a comic book series called "Sgt. Rock". A cigar chewing , grizzled U.S. soldier from back when all I read was comics. "Combat" "Twelve O'Clock High" and later "Rat ..."
Yes, I think "Sgt. Rock" and the whole DC war line did it for me, too. This spring I had the great honor of meeting the strip's artist and co-creator, Joe Kubert. He's very old now but still working and running a comic art school as well. He's a fine gentleman, very good with fans.

I, too, watched "Combat" and "Rat Patrol" and so on. The first movie I remember seeing was "Lawrence of Arabia," which was a World War I picture, so I was ready for WWII movies. I think the first book I read on the subject was "The How and Why Wonder Book of World War II," by Edwards and Thompson. My first adult books on the war were four volumes of the Ballantine series, though I can't recall which I bought first: "Bastogne" (Elstob), "D-Day" (R.W. Thompson), and "Stalingrad" and "Kursk" by Geoffrey Jukes. They were all good books, and still are.


message 27: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (lydz25) | 2 comments I think mine was either The Great Escape or The Colditz Story. I can't remember which one I read first, I think it was TGE. But I kept having flashbacks to scenes in Colditz (TV series), which I'd watched with my dad when I was about 6, so got the book and was then hooked!


message 28: by Steve (new)

Steve (sljjjsande5) | 1 comments My first recollection would be a scholastic book on the battle of waterloo. This sparked my interest in history, and then led to finding the Bantam WWII books. The first being Reach for the Sky.


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah My great-uncle was part of the Bataan Death March and was eventually shipped as a POW to Japan, surviving it all. Although I never got the opportunity to talk with him about his experiences before he passed away, I am highly curious about that event and the surrounding details. It has led me to read "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides, a great telling of the troops left at Cabanatuan and the Rangers who rescued them. I also have "Tears in the Darkness" by Michael and Elizabeth Norman to read about Bataan.

Having served in the Marine Corps and knowing general history about Iwo Jima and all th other Pacific campaigns, I want to learn and read more about not just those battles, but also the European campaign, especially in Italy as that is where my grandfather served in WWII in the Army.

Yes, a lot of personal and family history has spurred my desire to learn and read about WWII. (I'm also reading about other wars, but am sticking to this forum's main topic here.)


message 30: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (AussieRick) | 7983 comments Glad to hear that your great-uncle survived the Bataan Death March and his time as a POW. The history of the USMC during WW2 is a great history and I am sure you are proud of their tradition.

Looking at good books covering American forces in Italy during WW2 have you checked out Rick Atkinson's trilogy:

An Army at Dawn  The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson and The Day of Battle  The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Glad to hear that your great-uncle survived the Bataan Death March and his time as a POW. The history of the USMC during WW2 is a great history and I am sure you are proud of their tradition. "

Thank you, Rick. I am proud of having served in the Marines and of course am proud of the history, of those who have gone before...

I'll look into those books you suggested; they look interesting. If you know of other books out there, I'd like to hear of them.


message 32: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Good stories Sarah. I like the WW2 history, and it always adds perspective when you know someone that was in a particular battle or even theater. Gives more meaning to the risks commanders take and to the term casualties.

My dad joined the Air Force in 1950/Korean War time frame. One reason was the 'new frontier' allure of the Air Force at the time and that you were usually on an Air Base and not a foxhole.

His first drill instructor in basic training had also been at Baatan, like your Great Uncle. He told them he was going to make them tough enough to handle something like that should they get captured.

Stationed in Sherman,Texas he had them march to the Red River and back (30-40 miles total), they marched over fences, rancher's property, some pretty scruffy
landscape overall. Gee! the Air Force was great
he thought.



Sarah wrote: "My great-uncle was part of the Bataan Death March and was eventually shipped as a POW to Japan, surviving it all. Although I never got the opportunity to talk with him about his experiences before ..."


message 33: by Will (new)

Will (LeGrognard) | 13 comments When I was seven or eight, I got to meet a crewman from the U-505 so that really got me going. I was building u-boats and destroyers out of legos for weeks after! I've been hooked ever since.


message 34: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments Sarah wrote: "My great-uncle was part of the Bataan Death March and was eventually shipped as a POW to Japan, surviving it all. Although I never got the opportunity to talk with him about his experiences before ..."

Hi Sarah,
Interesting background and so I thought you might find these worth exploring:

My Hitch in Hell  The Bataan Death March (Memories of War) by Lester I. Tenney by Lester I. Tenney

Italy's Sorrow  A Year of War 1944-45 by James Holland by James HollandJames Holland


message 35: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments Will wrote: "When I was seven or eight, I got to meet a crewman from the U-505 so that really got me going. I was building u-boats and destroyers out of legos for weeks after! I've been hooked ever since."

That's an interesting connection to spark an interest Will. Was it a one off encounter with the crewman?


message 36: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks for the recommendations, Geevee. I have noted these books for future reading.

I don't know a lot about what my grandfather went through there in Italy, and he passed away several years before I was born so I never got to talk with him either, of course, but did know he drove a truck and my grandmother said he wrote to her about how bad the mud was there, that their trucks kept getting stuck.


message 37: by Will (new)

Will (LeGrognard) | 13 comments Yeah it was, Geevee. For me at least. My dad had met him (I don't remember how) and invited him over for dinner. They stayed up all night looking at his scrapbooks. They talked every now and then until the u-boater died. It was a fascinating experience, even if he was on the wrong side!


message 38: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Yes a good tale Will. Not many Uboat survivors let alone one in the US.

Geevee wrote: "Will wrote: "When I was seven or eight, I got to meet a crewman from the U-505 so that really got me going. I was building u-boats and destroyers out of legos for weeks after! I've been hooked ever..."


message 39: by David A (last edited Jun 21, 2012 04:26AM) (new)

David A (Lancer_325) | 134 comments Hi All. New to the group. Great group and looking forward to plenty of discussions here. I think my interest was sparked by two things. My Grandfather fought in the Somme in WWI, and although i never met him, i was fascinated. In terms of WWII i think John Toland's Book Hitler http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/65... started it all off for me. I found it in our school library and it just read like a novel he made it so real. From that day on i couldn't get enough on WWII. Have read as much as i can, but im more centered on the central figures in the running of the war such as Churchill, FDR, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini etc etc. and how the policy was set by these nations and followed. Just my thoughts.


message 40: by Wade (new)

Wade (wade1) | 303 comments Welcome David..you have found the BEST group site on the web....We have many knowledgable members who have wide and expansive comprehention of WW2.Our members are very generous in sharring their views and reading expertise-without being condescending. I was and would be lost without them.....welcome and carry on.


message 41: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments ditto on the welcome david. i recall when that book first came out there was a big todo about it. now when i visit the folks the 2 volume version is still on my dad's shelf.

Adolf Hitler, 2 Vols. by John Toland

David wrote: "Hi All. New to the group. "


message 42: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments ryan, a good topic. everyone's book has had me thinking and i thought of this book for me and i know it's rare, a story.

The American Heritage Picture History of World War II by C.L. Sulzberger

This is a classic picture book of WW2; great for the person who wants an overview of the war and also for the veteran history fan. First published in 1966, it is books like this that made the 720 photos, 92 in color, (as the dust jacket flap counts for us),
into familiar remembrances of the conflict.

Also a great remembrance and accomplishment, for me, was acquiring this book. There was a brand new mall with a brand new B. Dalton bookstore in the suburbs of St. Louis. Fellow teenage history and sports loving friends and I were enchanted by the leathery, old English library ambiance. During many visits, in which we rarely bought anything, we paged through the variety of books we longed for. It may have been the first dedicated bookstore I'd ever been in.

When I saw this book I really wanted it, though the $20.00 price was a lofty goal (adjusted for inflation today - $3000.00). I made from $1.50 to $3.00 for mowing a yard. With luck & rain I'd mow 2 or 3 yards a week. Making the money is difficult enough for a teenager, saving it is another with all the temptations at that age.

I was proud of my purchase and I relished looking at every photo and read every word, eventually dozens of times. Also being into model making, the color drawings of the airplanes from the various countries
showing all the markings and camouflage was particularly thrilling. And I still own the now well-worn book, mmmm I may just look through it now.


Ryan wrote: " This got me thinking about which book amongst all these got me started on my WWII kick..."


message 43: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy | 80 comments That's a cool story Carl :) I'm surprised by the B. Dalton bookstore reference though. I would surmise I'm quite a bit younger than you, but my memories of B. Dalton stores in malls were they were really small and didn't have that much of a selection compared to gigantic stores like Barnes & Noble. I would guess time and location/particular stores vary though. I have fond childhood memories of going to Barnes & Noble every time I visited my dad, and my uncle always gave us BN gift cards for Xmas. Greatest feeling ever to me as a kid was walking in with the gift card in my pocket knowing I had my pick of books in the monstrous store :)


message 44: by Wade (new)

Wade (wade1) | 303 comments My first Crusade In Europe--this co-incided with our local television broadcast of the series by the same name--now this was in the early 1960's and for a local station to broadcast a lenghtly series was immesuarable..


message 45: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments David wrote: "Hi All. New to the group. Great group and looking forward to plenty of discussions here..."

Hi David and welcome. Looking forward to sharing views on books and spotting those new titles.

If you're interested in the policy and strategic direction - and I accept its a bit dry but - have you tried the UK's Official History series?
The are 5 volumes on Foreign Policy (6 if you include an abridged volume) and six on Grand Strategy all published by HMSO.

The full listing is here:
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/UK...


message 46: by David A (new)

David A (Lancer_325) | 134 comments Hi Geevee. Thanks for the welcome and for the heads up on Foreign Policy. hadn't seen that before so cheers. I know policy can be a bit dry to some, but i think its what drives the direction of any war. For example Stalin's policy was 'not a step back' and that drove the soviet war effort from Stalingrad. That's the kind of stuff im talking about when i say policy. Im looking forward to reading "Yalta" http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/71...


message 47: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3106 comments My pleasure and I'll be interested to read your views on Yalta too.

I have the Grand Strategy and Foreign Policy volumes but have not tackled them cover to cover merely dipping in to periods relating to certain events or in relation to points made in other volumes of the military or civil series.


message 48: by David A (new)

David A (Lancer_325) | 134 comments Geevee wrote: "My pleasure and I'll be interested to read your views on Yalta too.

I have the Grand Strategy and Foreign Policy volumes but have not tackled them cover to cover merely dipping in to periods r..."

Sure Geevee, I'll be happy to post my views here. One thing i'm looking forward to though is to see how the author used the as described "newly declassified Soviet documents and unpublished diaries and letters of the participants..." in the book. Not sure when and where he got the access but i'm sure the book will reveal that.


message 49: by carl (new)

carl  theaker | 977 comments Thanks Chrissy, glad you liked it. For some reason whenever i start a story i think 'about 10 yrs ago', then i go well, 20, then i keep adding as necessary for accuracy, more or less.

i also recall B Daltons being smaller stores in their later days. in the 60-70s (olden days) most of the dept stores had the equivalent of a book store in them and drugstores usually had a large paperback area also. so just taking a guess, chain bookstores weren't common.

you piqued my interest in the history of B. Dalton and looking about i found that the St Louis store was only their 2nd store. so i was unknowingly getting in on their early days. i read that they also had fancy things like parquet flooring and wide aisles, items i must have
attributed to English libraries hehe.

i know what you mean about giftcards, i still have one i got this year for Christmas to amazon, still relishing what to spend it on,
that's half the fun.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled WW2 content.


Chrissy wrote: "That's a cool story Carl :) I'm surprised by the B. Dalton bookstore reference though. I would surmise I'm quite a bit younger than you, but my memories of B. Dalton stores in malls were they were ..."


message 50: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 77 comments My interest was initially peaked in my early teens watching the Gwynne Dyer documentary "War" on TV. I can't remember if I saw all the episodes but the Bataan episode always stuck with me. I ended up spending 8 years in the Canadian military where the interest continued and both my grandfathers were in WWII (though unfortunately both died when I was little).
I can't remember the name of the first book I ever read (though I"m pretty sure it was about either Market Garden or Midway)...can't even remember the names of most of the books I've read. Went through a library kick about 6-7 years ago and read so many and didn't keep track except a few that really stuck with me.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad (other topics)
The Fall of Berlin 1945 (other topics)
Slaughter at Halbe: The Destruction of Hitler's 9th Army (other topics)
Up And At 'Em!: 10 Of The Most Battle Scarred War Picture Library Comic Books Ever! (other topics)
Pacific Onslaught 7th Dec. 1941/7th Feb. 1943 (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

William Craig (other topics)
Paul Kennedy (other topics)
Rick Atkinson (other topics)
James Holland (other topics)
Lester I. Tenney (other topics)
More...