Pony Queen Jace

Looking for WWI or WWII Book Recommendations

73 posts in this topic

It certainly does add to an understanding of those first weeks and they were pretty decisive, weren't they? It's not supposed to handle with all 4 years of the war.

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6 hours ago, Lord of Rhinos said:

I have to say that I'm not very fond of The Guns of August.  The first third or so that is devoted to explaining the military mindsets of the various countries is great stuff but once the war starts it becomes a chronicle of various battles that doesn't add to an understanding of WWI and largely is useless.

I agree. I found the first few chapters that give an insight into the various powers at the time, who is who etc, quite interesting.

After that it become something I had to plow through and did not finish.

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11 hours ago, Calibandar said:

I agree. I found the first few chapters that give an insight into the various powers at the time, who is who etc, quite interesting.

After that it become something I had to plow through and did not finish.

I would disagree here. The firsp part explains how the countries were preparing for war, what were there expectations, and what plans they came up with. 

The second part demonstrates how and why every single one of those plans went out of the window. The period of the war the Guns of August covers is unique in WW1. It is the only period where an actual war of movement was fought and a decisive breakthrough actually could have ended and shortened the war. Why this did not happen - how France and Britain thwarted the German right hook, why the French assault in the Centre failed, how the wheels came off the Russian steamroller at Tannenberg - these are extremely important incidents in understanding the 4 years of trench warfare that followed. 

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Welp, I need to read a few more takes on the subject, but the guy I'm reading is either heavily biased towards Germany or the rest of the belligerent nations were headed by the foolish and the incompetent. Some findings:

I didn't know how late Germany mobilized or that (according to this author) they were basically the only ones to adapt to industrialized warfare.

Didn't know Churchill pushed the tank.

Had no idea how fuck awful everyone who wasn't German, French, or British were at war.

In highschool I remember being taught that Italy stabbed the Central Powers in the back at the outbreak of war, this author paints a very different picture.

French everyman was kind of badass.

Scratch that, French everyman WAS badass. Verdun literally made me cry.

BEF was really awesome sauce.

I knew the name Eric Ludendorff, now I am suitably impressed by he and Hoffman.

Kinda feel bad for Falkenheim and Molte. Schleffen saying 'strengthen the right!' on his deathbed is the kind of legend that doesn't have to be true.

Had NO idea how close the 7th army got to Paris. 

Somme made me mad.

Submarine warfare had a much bigger (by dint of not having as much) effect than I'd been taught. 

And many more... I'm listening to this one and regret that cause I wanna read faster than the readers pace, much more interesting subject than I'd always assumed. thanks to all for recommendations.

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On 11/1/2016 at 10:01 PM, Garett Hornwood said:

Also if your interested in a week-by-week look at World War I, then I suggest the YouTube channel The Great War.  Since July 2014, they have  relating what happened in WWI that week a hundred years ago plus special bios, nations in WWI, and many other things.

As I have been binge-watching these lately, I second the recommendation on The Great War. It covers most of the theaters of the war in fairly good detail and doesn't just focus on the western front. Some things are glossed over a bit and not everything gets a lot of detail, but it's still really good. It won't be finished for another two years, but that just means you'll have plenty of episodes to get through. :)

 

On 11/5/2016 at 8:55 PM, Andorion said:

The second part demonstrates how and why every single one of those plans went out of the window. The period of the war the Guns of August covers is unique in WW1. It is the only period where an actual war of movement was fought and a decisive breakthrough actually could have ended and shortened the war. Why this did not happen - how France and Britain thwarted the German right hook, why the French assault in the Centre failed, how the wheels came off the Russian steamroller at Tannenberg - these are extremely important incidents in understanding the 4 years of trench warfare that followed. 

I agree. The Guns of August is worth it just to see how spectacularly the grand German plans fail when finally implemented but yet, they still come so very close to taking/threatening to take Paris. YMMV on how many names of German, Russian, British, and French generals and random battles it takes before your eyes roll back into your head, but I liked it.

9 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Welp, I need to read a few more takes on the subject, but the guy I'm reading is either heavily biased towards Germany or the rest of the belligerent nations were headed by the foolish and the incompetent. Some findings:

Had no idea how fuck awful everyone who wasn't German, French, or British were at war.

Pretty much every leader/commander in WWI was either gloriously incompetent or supreme in their inability to adequately adapt to the horrors and new realities of modern and mechanized war. The Germans just stand out for being the least worst of the lot, especially when compared to their allies, the Austro-Hungarians and the Ottomans, both of whom seemed to stumble from one military blunder to another. One wonders what might have happened had the Germans had some competent allies in the mix. :)

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11 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Welp, I need to read a few more takes on the subject, but the guy I'm reading is either heavily biased towards Germany or the rest of the belligerent nations were headed by the foolish and the incompetent. Some findings:

I didn't know how late Germany mobilized or that (according to this author) they were basically the only ones to adapt to industrialized warfare.

Didn't know Churchill pushed the tank.

Had no idea how fuck awful everyone who wasn't German, French, or British were at war.

In highschool I remember being taught that Italy stabbed the Central Powers in the back at the outbreak of war, this author paints a very different picture.

French everyman was kind of badass.

Scratch that, French everyman WAS badass. Verdun literally made me cry.

BEF was really awesome sauce.

I knew the name Eric Ludendorff, now I am suitably impressed by he and Hoffman.

Kinda feel bad for Falkenheim and Molte. Schleffen saying 'strengthen the right!' on his deathbed is the kind of legend that doesn't have to be true.

Had NO idea how close the 7th army got to Paris. 

Somme made me mad.

Submarine warfare had a much bigger (by dint of not having as much) effect than I'd been taught. 

And many more... I'm listening to this one and regret that cause I wanna read faster than the readers pace, much more interesting subject than I'd always assumed. thanks to all for recommendations.

Read about Gallipolli if you can. Often gets overlooked, but it was one of the worst British blunders of the war

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19 hours ago, Durckad said:

As I have been binge-watching these lately, I second the recommendation on The Great War. It covers most of the theaters of the war in fairly good detail and doesn't just focus on the western front. Some things are glossed over a bit and not everything gets a lot of detail, but it's still really good. It won't be finished for another two years, but that just means you'll have plenty of episodes to get through. :)

 

I agree. The Guns of August is worth it just to see how spectacularly the grand German plans fail when finally implemented but yet, they still come so very close to taking/threatening to take Paris. YMMV on how many names of German, Russian, British, and French generals and random battles it takes before your eyes roll back into your head, but I liked it.

Pretty much every leader/commander in WWI was either gloriously incompetent or supreme in their inability to adequately adapt to the horrors and new realities of modern and mechanized war. The Germans just stand out for being the least worst of the lot, especially when compared to their allies, the Austro-Hungarians and the Ottomans, both of whom seemed to stumble from one military blunder to another. One wonders what might have happened had the Germans had some competent allies in the mix. :)

Not quite all were incompetent. Read up on Arthur Currie, the Canadian General. The capture of Vimy Ridge was the most astonishing defeat inflicted on the Germans. It was accomplished when the Canadians got out from under the British Army control.

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On 11/2/2016 at 3:30 PM, Pony Queen Jace said:

Again, thanks to everybody. 

I never knew how close the Germans were to reaching Paris in 1914. it kind of breaks my heart for the 7th army.

 

On 11/7/2016 at 0:59 PM, Pony Queen Jace said:

Welp, I need to read a few more takes on the subject, but the guy I'm reading is either heavily biased towards Germany or the rest of the belligerent nations were headed by the foolish and the incompetent. Some findings:

I didn't know how late Germany mobilized or that (according to this author) they were basically the only ones to adapt to industrialized warfare.

Didn't know Churchill pushed the tank.

Had no idea how fuck awful everyone who wasn't German, French, or British were at war.

In highschool I remember being taught that Italy stabbed the Central Powers in the back at the outbreak of war, this author paints a very different picture.

French everyman was kind of badass.

Scratch that, French everyman WAS badass. Verdun literally made me cry.

BEF was really awesome sauce.

I knew the name Eric Ludendorff, now I am suitably impressed by he and Hoffman.

Kinda feel bad for Falkenheim and Molte. Schleffen saying 'strengthen the right!' on his deathbed is the kind of legend that doesn't have to be true.

Had NO idea how close the 7th army got to Paris. 

Somme made me mad.

Submarine warfare had a much bigger (by dint of not having as much) effect than I'd been taught. 

And many more... I'm listening to this one and regret that cause I wanna read faster than the readers pace, much more interesting subject than I'd always assumed. thanks to all for recommendations.

Just to clarify, are your comments here about The Guns of August or another book?

I'm so glad I found this thread, I have read a decent amount of WWII books and am always looking to add to my total.

Some books I would recommend would be Milkweed- dealing with the affairs of a (Jewish/gypsie? sorry its been a while since i read it) boy in the Warsaw ghetto, fiction I believe, but heart wrenching nonetheless. 

Night by Elie Wiesel should be considered THE book about the Holocaust, a must read of a glimpse into the very worst of the humanity.

I also liked the Zion Covenant series by Bodie Thoene. It centers around a group of Jews escaping Germany and covers the time during the lead up to WWII. The author is very Christian and this can be seen in her writing, so that might be a slight turn off if you aren't interested in being drowned in Bible verses. Still I would recommend the series very much. Great historical detail and full of characters you can relate to.

Battle of Midway by Ira Peck is probably the reason I am obsessed with WWII as I am. It was one of the very first books I read as a kid and has kept me going  since. It covers the events leading up to and the Battle of Midway itself in fascinating detail for a book as small as it is.

The last book I have for you right now is Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley is a great read. If I am not mistaken, the author is the son of one of the soldiers who raised the iconic flag on Iwo Jima. The book centers on the stories of the men in that photograph, what happened to them before, during and after the battle. It is a really powerful book, especially in the case of Ira Hayes concerning what happened to him after the war.

These are just the titles I have to suggest off the top of my head. Once I am done with finals and get home I'll be sure to check my bookshelves and see what else I have forgotten!

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For WW1, I recommend a series of WW1 videos from the youtube channel, Epic History TV.

For WW2, I recommend the book, Total War: Causes and Courses of the Second World War by Peter Calvocoressi and Guy Wint. It's one of the most well written war books I've read yet. Hell, I'm reading it a second time right now.

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 I know this doesn't exactly fit your request @Pony Queen Jace, but you have to check out this guys podcasts. Hardcore History hosted by Dan Carlin. The guy is really into Military History and he does recommend various books throughout the podcasts.

 

I prefer reading myself, but I find that I really enjoy listening to podcasts while gaming and such. Check 'em out.

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Europe's Last Summer by David Fromkin is not really a World War I book but is a great read or listen (it is in Audiobook format and well done) about the July Crisis it about the Politics and Diplomacy of one of the most influential months in history 

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On 1/10/2017 at 9:20 PM, Manhole Eunuchsbane said:

 I know this doesn't exactly fit your request @Pony Queen Jace, but you have to check out this guys podcasts. Hardcore History hosted by Dan Carlin. The guy is really into Military History and he does recommend various books throughout the podcasts.

 

I prefer reading myself, but I find that I really enjoy listening to podcasts while gaming and such. Check 'em out.

I posted this when I was about an hour into the first segment (each segment is about 3 hours). If you are a history buff you have to check these out. They are fantastic. The manner in which Carlin breaks down the early battles and the political decisions being made is comprehensive and extremely entertaining. Check 'em out.

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I'll second that recommendation. I'm about halfway through the second podcast on the First World War and they really are very good. Thanks for pointing them out Manhole.

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5 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

I'll second that recommendation. I'm about halfway through the second podcast on the First World War and they really are very good. Thanks for pointing them out Manhole.

No worries. I'm on the last segment (Part VI) right now. This guy is amazing. I'm looking forward to checking out his other podcasts. The King of Kings one (regarding the Persian Empire) looks really promising as well.

 

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I've not had much energy for reading of late (since my last post here really) but I'll give this podcast a try.

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2 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

I've not had much energy for reading of late (since my last post here really) but I'll give this podcast a try.

I like listening to them when I'm playing my grindy computer game. They are quite entertaining. Hope you like it.

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So I recently finished The Guns of August and I thought it was fantastic! What book might be considered a sequel of sorts? I know it stalemates in the trenches from here on out, which sounds to be about as boring as it gets. So would it be better to find a book that details the end of the War? I would like to know how and why Germany lost in the end. What does the Board recommend to someone who wants to learn more about The War to End All Wars?

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On 2/27/2017 at 7:27 PM, Ghjhero said:

So I recently finished The Guns of August and I thought it was fantastic! What book might be considered a sequel of sorts? I know it stalemates in the trenches from here on out, which sounds to be about as boring as it gets. So would it be better to find a book that details the end of the War? I would like to know how and why Germany lost in the end. What does the Board recommend to someone who wants to learn more about The War to End All Wars?

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast Blueprint for Armageddon. Can't hype it hard enough. If memory serves, Carlin attributes a few different factors to the German loss. Opening the floodgates on submarine warfare was one. Also a ham-handed diplomatic attempt to bring Mexico into the war. Those two things accelerated American involvement. Also Austria-Hungary being a huge weak link that the Germans consistently had to divert resources to in order to bail them out of bad decisions. In the early going, the violation of Belgian neutrality was huge, as this brought a reluctant Britain into the conflict.  

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I guess the short version is that Germany lost in those first two months because they could not win at the western front in those first weeks (as they had hoped) and in a war of attrition they could not have won in the long run, regardless of how long the stalemate was held and despite the 1917 revolution and peace with Russia. In any case a friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable and who gave "The guns of August" to me told me when we discussed the books later on that despite the impression in Tuchman's book that Germany was very close to pulling it off against France in those first weeks most historians today believed that it wasn't really possible or at least that it was not as close as it could appear from such books as Tuchman's.

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On 3/1/2017 at 3:42 PM, Manhole Eunuchsbane said:

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast Blueprint for Armageddon. Can't hype it hard enough. If memory serves, Carlin attributes a few different factors to the German loss. Opening the floodgates on submarine warfare was one. Also a ham-handed diplomatic attempt to bring Mexico into the war. Those two things accelerated American involvement. Also Austria-Hungary being a huge weak link that the Germans consistently had to divert resources to in order to bail them out of bad decisions. In the early going, the violation of Belgian neutrality was huge, as this brought a reluctant Britain into the conflict.  

Ok thanks! Im not too much for podcasts, but ill check it out!

On 3/2/2017 at 2:51 AM, Jo498 said:

I guess the short version is that Germany lost in those first two months because they could not win at the western front in those first weeks (as they had hoped) and in a war of attrition they could not have won in the long run, regardless of how long the stalemate was held and despite the 1917 revolution and peace with Russia. In any case a friend of mine who is quite knowledgeable and who gave "The guns of August" to me told me when we discussed the books later on that despite the impression in Tuchman's book that Germany was very close to pulling it off against France in those first weeks most historians today believed that it wasn't really possible or at least that it was not as close as it could appear from such books as Tuchman's.

That is really interesting. Throughout much of the book i kept thinking to myself, "How on earth did Germany lose this thing???". I got me wondering what Europe would have looked like had they won the war, i think it's probable WW2 would have been prevented, at least in the manner that it unfolded.

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