THE WORLD WAR TWO GROUP discussion

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ARCHIVED READS > 2016 - August - Theme Read on any Personality of WW2

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments The August 2016 theme read is on any book or books of your choice that covers a personality of WW2.

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

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I am thinking of reading this book for the August theme read:

Field Marshal The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel by Daniel Allen Butler Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel by Daniel Allen Butler


message 3: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4484 comments Good one, AR. In a few days I'll join with --

Truman by David McCullough Truman by David McCullough


message 4: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new)

Mike | 3075 comments Manray9 wrote: "Good one, AR. In a few days I'll join with --

Truman by David McCullough Truman by David McCullough"


I like that choice but it's so big, might take all month to finish! But McCullough is easy readin'


message 5: by Brent (last edited Jul 28, 2016 09:58PM) (new)

Brent | 32 comments Just finished this one last week. Great read!

MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific


fourtriplezed  (4triplezed) | 882 comments Will be reading this. Himmler: Reichs Fuhrer-SS Himmler Reichs Fuhrer-SS by Peter Padfield


message 8: by Betsy (last edited Jul 28, 2016 10:12PM) (new)

Betsy | 503 comments Have just started SLIM The Standardbearer by Ronald Lewin.


message 10: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jul 28, 2016 11:26PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments Seems that folks have some excellent books lined up for the theme read, should be some great posts to follow.


message 11: by fourtriplezed (new)

fourtriplezed  (4triplezed) | 882 comments Agree with Rick. Looking forward to this.


message 12: by Chin Joo (new)


message 13: by Ina (new)

Ina Cawl (inacawl) | 1 comments i guess this Autobiography was the best book i ever read relating to the topic discussed here
A Woman in Berlin Eight Weeks in the Conquered City A Diary by Marta Hillers
A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary


message 14: by Faith (new)

Faith (faithpotts) I'll be reading The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle by Robert Morgan.


message 15: by KOMET (last edited Jul 29, 2016 05:26AM) (new)

KOMET | 381 comments Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea: The Third Reich's Last Hope, 1944-1945 by Howard D. Grier.

Hitler, Dönitz, and the Baltic Sea The Third Reich's Last Hope, 1944-1945 by Howard D. Grier

I am eager to read about the latter-day struggles of the Third Reich to survive in 1944 and 1945 as represented in this book.


message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul (paul_gephart) | 368 comments I'm only about halfway through "An Army at Dawn" An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson (which I began reading about 2/3 of the way through the June theme read), but I did pick up "The Spy Who Loved" The Spy Who Loved The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley from the library for August (which I hope to read), but just in case I don't have enough time, I also picked up the much shorter (and written for youth) "The Emperor General: A Biography of Douglas MacArthur" The Emperor General A Biography of Douglas MacArthur by Norman H. Finkelstein just in case.


message 17: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 503 comments In 1941 Slim was in Iraq when called upon to address his men. I think part of his statement deserves remembering. "But in the end every important battle develops to a point where there is no real control by senior commanders. Each soldier feels himself to be alone...the dominant feeling of the battlfield is loneliness..."


message 18: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3798 comments A statement so simple and true...the hours before H-Hour the start of action especially.


message 19: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new)

Geevee | 3798 comments Some great books posted by members. A good photo too Rick of the soldier with the Bren gun - to me he has that look described in Betsy's post (No. 17).


message 20: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments Geevee wrote: "Some great books posted by members. A good photo too Rick of the soldier with the Bren gun - to me he has that look described in Betsy's post (No. 17)."

I can't remember where I found this photo Geevee but it ties in with Martin Middlebrook's book on Arnhem:

Private H.E. Goddard of The Perth Regiment, carrying a Bren gun while advancing through a forest north of Arnhem, Netherlands


message 21: by happy (last edited Jul 29, 2016 10:17PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 2248 comments Not exactly a leader, but definitely a personality. I think this one will qualify - Mrs. Happy brought it home from the library a couple of weeks ago. Plus I saw the author on BookTV and it really looked interesting

Clementine The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell


message 22: by Boudewijn (last edited Jul 29, 2016 10:16PM) (new)

Boudewijn (boudalok) | 354 comments Halfway in Goebbels: A Biography, until now an interesting read. The author mainly focusses on his diaries, which give a good insight in the man.

Interesting and at the same time chilling to read his staunch anti-semitism, absolute dedication to Hitler and narcistic personality.

Goebbels A Biography by Peter Longerich


message 23: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen | 209 comments happy wrote: "Not exactly a leader, but definitely a personality. I think this one will qualify - Mrs. Happy brought it home from the library a couple of weeks ago. Plus I saw the author on BookTV and it really ..."
Oh Happy I have this one on my to-read list. Would love to hear what you think of it. Tell Mrs. Happy great choice!


message 24: by happy (last edited Jul 29, 2016 10:46PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 2248 comments Will do :)


message 25: by fourtriplezed (last edited Jul 29, 2016 11:53PM) (new)

fourtriplezed  (4triplezed) | 882 comments Just finished the first chapter of Padfield's Himmler. This is called "Background" and made fascinating reading.

Padfield covers a little bit of his own travels into Himmler's past, Füssen in Bavaria where the Himmler family made their holidays in the early years of the 20th century for example.

He quotes from Himmler's diary and with that builds a "psychological profile" quoting everyone from Hugh Trevor-Roper to Buddhist thought to build his (obvious) disdain for Himmler's mental state. This was not what I was expecting but I found it extremely interesting. Added in between all this "psychological profiling" was a short history of various other terrors perpetrated in the name of ideology. Witch hunts in Bavaria 400 odd years previously through to the Spanish Inquisition and how they equated to "public demands" (my words) to "find a scapegoat for social frustration" (Padfield's words). Padfield quotes Trevor-Roper and Henry Kaman in that the "community itself" "impose" on tyrants" their general social beliefs and the tyrants are able to act accordingly.

The final few sentences of the chapter are well worth me quoting. "It is not right or just to blame the German nation alone for creating and supporting Himmler and all he personified - not that "blame" is the word one would use in describing the causes of an earthquake. Germany was at the stress-centre of a world system that has always caused upheavals releasing the foulest stenches: the system is material progress, an uneven progress that naturally sets up stresses. In this case a major fault line ran through Germany, but none of the allied powers who constituted the exterior pressure could look back on a blameless past: not Russia, where Stalin had accounted for more millions in purges and forced starvation of peasants than stand to Himmler's account; not America, a great deal of whose wealth was built on the exploitation of slaves and land taken from the natives; not Great Britain, whose world empire had been founded on the barter, transportation and exploitation of African negroes, and whose colonisers had decimated indigenous peoples; nor France, whose trading and colonial history was only less successful. The Nazis indeed saw the world with a childlike vision as it was, and human beings as they were. With childlike lack of sophistication they only wanted to be the greatest humans, the master race. They did not invent the system, nor the human strengths and weaknesses which made it what it was. They where the halbgebildeten, drunk, as is the way of the half-educated, with the half-truth"


message 26: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I remember reading that book in late 1990 just after it was published and I remember buying a copy as I enjoyed the author's previous books on Donitz and some of his naval titles. I really can't recall much of it now but its the only book that I have read on Himmler and I gave it a good rating so it must have been good (I hope). I liked your quoted section from the book 4ZZZ and I will look forward to more of your thoughts on Himmler as you go.

Himmler by Peter Padfield by Peter Padfield

Dönitz The Last Fuhrer by Peter Padfield Dönitz: The Last Fuhrer by Peter Padfield


message 27: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen | 209 comments Just started reading Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship and it really looks to be a great read. Two very complicated personalities who came together at the right time.


message 28: by fourtriplezed (new)

fourtriplezed  (4triplezed) | 882 comments Rick if this books goes well I will read Padfield again. He has written a lot that is of interest.


message 29: by James (new)

James Martin (albacore) | 49 comments I've got a couple books I'm going to finish up first, but I should be able to get to and finish Klaus Barbie: Butcher of Lyons Klaus Barbie Butcher of Lyons by Tom Bower


message 30: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2186 comments Doreen wrote: "Will be reading this. Franklin and Winston An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon MeachamFranklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship."

I read this just recently. It was a very interesting book. Hope you like it.


message 31: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jul 31, 2016 07:29PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I'm not sure how many people are aware that Rommel had an affair prior to his marriage to Lucie which led to the birth of a girl, Gertrude, who later lived with the Rommel's. This incident is mentioned in some of the more recent books on Rommel but not in all accounts. I looked for a mention of Gertrude Stemmer in David Fraser's excellent book on Rommel but could not find a listing in the index and I don't recall reading about it.

Walburga and Gertrude Stemmer:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walburg...

Knight's Cross A Life Of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel by David Fraser by David Fraser


message 32: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 503 comments That is interesting about Walburga Stemmer. I'm sure it's something that happened all too often, but it must have been heartbreaking for Wallburga.


message 33: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments The author mentions Rommel's first wounding which occurred on September 24, 1914, near Varennessen-Argonne when leading his platoon on an assault on the village he was confronted by five French soldiers, he managed to shoot two of the French soldiers but his rifle clicked when he pressed the trigger for the third time. Rommel then charged the remaining French soldiers hoping to win the engagement by hand-to-hand fighting but was shot in the left thigh. He was subsequently awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class.

"Years later, when he was writing of the tactical lessons to be learned from this encounter, he would comment wryly that 'In a man-to-man fight, the winner is he who has one more round in his magazine'."


message 34: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen | 209 comments While reading Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship I find it fascinating how Churchill is able to pull Roosevelt into helping.


message 35: by fourtriplezed (last edited Aug 01, 2016 04:54AM) (new)

fourtriplezed  (4triplezed) | 882 comments Chapter 2 is called Youth. The author is trying to get into the psychology of a youthful Himmler and I find that interesting. The author quotes from Himmler's diary's so he sees his comments on the Jews (as a 20 year old) no different than may have been the norm of a young German catholic of the times. He does start to note changes in the wording of the diary over the space of about a year in that his attitude hardens. Discusses Himmler's "romantic" views on women and considers them no less idealised than any other Freikorp male youth of the time. Himmler had wanted to be an officer but the end of the Great War forced change. He got into some farming but later went back and studied. He and his brother joined a reserve auxiliary unit that was loyalist Monarchist. Read Houston Stewart Chamberlain and with inflation anti Semitism hardened.

Enjoying this book immensely. My knowledge of Himmler is really limited to my 39 - 45 readings of the war. This is a very useful addition.


message 37: by Derek (new)

Derek Nudd | 249 comments At risk of being cheeky, do you mind if I suggest my own book Armageddon Fed Up With This - A Gunner's Tale? It follows an articulate conscript's progress, largely in his own words, from the Blitz through increasingly rigorous training to the Normandy and North-West Europe campaigns. The book sets his personal story in the context of the military, political and social convulsions going on around him.
(Full disclosure: he happened to be my Dad)
To celebrate the theme read I have arranged a 25% discount when purchased from the publisher's web site: http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.....
Armageddon Fed Up With This by Derek Nudd


message 38: by ^ (new)

^ | 44 comments For a couple of years I've been meaning to get around to reading my 1950 hbk edition of "Odette: The Story of A British Agent".

"Personality" both does and does not feel like the right word here. Just glancing at the Epilogue, I read "I am a very ordinary woman to whom a chance was given to see ordinary human beings at their best and at their worst. I knew kindness as well as cruelty, understanding as well as brutality".

I expect this to be a grippingly good, but also emotionally fraught read.


message 39: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I liked this maxim of Rommel's as quoted by the author in regards to the attack on Longarone during the fighting on the Piave during WW1:

"A risk is a chance you take; if it fails you can recover. A gamble is chance taken; if it fails, recovery is impossible."

The Fight at Longarone:

http://www.worldhistory.biz/world-war...


message 40: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments The end result of Rommel's audacious assault on Longarone:

" ... Momentarily stunned, Rommel quickly had the men of his detachment fall in and they marched into Longarone, where Rommel formally accepted the surrender of the town and the garrison: the entire 1st Italian Infantry Division, 10,000 strong; 200 machine guns; 18 pieces of mountain artillery; 600 draft animals; 250 wagons; 10 trucks and two ambulances."


message 41: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 503 comments Quite a day for Rommel. This is the battle he won the POUR LE MERITE, isn't it?


message 42: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments Betsy wrote: "Quite a day for Rommel. This is the battle he won the POUR LE MERITE, isn't it?"

Yes it is Betsy.


message 43: by Larry (last edited Aug 02, 2016 11:10PM) (new)

Larry Loftis | 75 comments August is quite timely for two very significant events in WWII history ... 75 years ago THIS WEEK, British Lt. Commander Ian Fleming shadowed a playboy MI6 agent, Dusko Popov, into Casino Estoril. What transpired that night led to Fleming's creation of JAMES BOND and his first novel, Casino Royale.

Then, about two weeks later, on August 18, 1941, that same MI6 agent met with FBI Asst. Director, Earl Connelley in New York and informed Connelley--with tangible evidence--that the Japanese were planning to attack Pearl Harbor. Director J. Edgar Hoover was informed the next day ... and did nothing. After the attack he buried the information with classification .. for the rest of his life.

The book is INTO THE LION'S MOUTH: The True Story of Dusko Popov--World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond (Berkley-Caliber, June 14, 2016).

Two four-star admirals (James Lyons and Ronald Zlatoper), both former Commanders of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Dr. Robert Kuckuck, a former director of Los Alamos, provided glowing reviews (see the Amazon page).

Into the Lion's Mouth The True Story of Dusko Popov World War II Spy, Patriot, and the Real-Life Inspiration for James Bond by Larry Loftis


message 44: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 | 4484 comments Today I started --

Truman by David McCullough Truman by David McCullough


message 45: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I liked this account from my book on Rommel in regards to the loyalty of the Germany army during one of the many crisis's faced by the Weimar Republic:

"At this point Ebert asked von Seeckt straight out 'Is the Reichswehr reliable?' The general replied, 'I do not know if they are reliable, but they do obey me!' "


message 46: by Rose (new)

Rose Scott (roseseilerscott) | 12 comments Just read Defiance The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec
by Nechama Tec
The story of the Bielski Partisans goes against the notion that the Jews didn't fight back-- sometimes they did. Tuvia Bielski and his brother's primary goal though was to save as many Jews as possible and it was remarkable what they accomplished, even building a functioning community in the forest.


message 47: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments Excellent choice Rose, did the movie bear any semblance to the book?


message 48: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 18349 comments I've heard this story before but its worth quoting again, the incident when Rommel took command of the III Battalion of the 17th Infantry Regiment and the officers tried to get one over him:

"Not long after he had reported to his new posting, they invited him to climb to the top of a nearby mountain and then ski to the bottom. Rommel readily agreed, then invited them to repeat the excursion with him - three more times. The officers demurred at the suggestion of a fifth round trip and Rommel had made his point."


message 49: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen | 209 comments While reading Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship I'm really enjoying the evolution of their friendship.


message 50: by Manray9 (last edited Aug 04, 2016 08:57AM) (new)

Manray9 | 4484 comments For this month's theme read I've embarked on David McCullough's Truman. It will take about 260 pages to reach WW II. But some good background is provided just within the first 55 pages. Harry Truman's maternal grandparents, Solomon and Harriet Louisa Young, were early pioneers in western Missouri having emigrated from Kentucky. Solomon, among many other endeavors, led wagon trains across the Oregon and Santa Fe trails. Unlike most of his neighbors, he wasn't of Scots-Irish heritage. He was German and his name was initially spelled Jung. Harriet Louisa remained at home on the farm tending the children and livestock. She withstood raids by Kansas "Red Legs" during the Civil War (If you've seen Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales, you know of "Red Legs"). Old Solomon was a no nonsense character. I chuckled when reading McCullough's statement about him:

Skeptical of preachers or anyone who made too much show of religion, he liked to say that whenever he heard a man praying loudly, his first instinct was to go home and lock the smokehouse.


That reminds me of my old grandpa in Georgia. He would have said that if he'd thought of it.


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