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Looking for WWI or WWII Book Recommendations

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I recently read The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad by Salisbury and Stalingrad by Beevor. Both have been fantastic works so far and I will be reading Beevor’s Fall of Berlin in the near future. 

I noticed Beevor has some other less well known books. Has anyone read his The Second World War? As someone who already knows a fair amount about the conflict I am wondering if it would be too shallow of an understanding to be worth reading. I wonder if perhaps single installments such as Stalingrad would be a better way to get a depper appreciation for what happed during the war. 

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On October 25, 2016 at 2:18 AM, Jo498 said:

I am not well versed in the field but a very readable and not too long book on the beginning and first weeks of WW I is Tuchman's "The Guns of August". Among the most famous fiction books (also not that long and readable) is Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front"

^^^ (WW1) All Quiet on the Western Front a good choice imo.

Theres also Hemingways (WW1) "A Farewell to Arms" and (Spanish Civil War) "For Whom the Bell Tolls" , both classics.

Edited by DireWolfSpirit

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8 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

I recently read The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad by Salisbury and Stalingrad by Beevor. Both have been fantastic works so far and I will be reading Beevor’s Fall of Berlin in the near future. 

I noticed Beevor has some other less well known books. Has anyone read his The Second World War? As someone who already knows a fair amount about the conflict I am wondering if it would be too shallow of an understanding to be worth reading. I wonder if perhaps single installments such as Stalingrad would be a better way to get a depper appreciation for what happed during the war. 

I enjoyed his book on the Spanish Civil War.

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49 minutes ago, SeanF said:

I enjoyed his book on the Spanish Civil War.

I am pretty intrigued by that. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be very much wrapped up in the politics of pre-WWII. Some of the reviews I saw were a bit mediocre, but I’m willing to give it a shot. 

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WWI: A World Undone - G. J. Meyer

Also, Dan Carlin's 6-part WWI series on Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon...

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1 hour ago, Ghjhero said:

I am pretty intrigued by that. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be very much wrapped up in the politics of pre-WWII. Some of the reviews I saw were a bit mediocre, but I’m willing to give it a shot. 

There's an excellent six-part BBC/Granada TV documentary I watched  a while back. It's an older documentary(1983) but very good.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1718608/

 

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13 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

I noticed Beevor has some other less well known books. Has anyone read his The Second World War? As someone who already knows a fair amount about the conflict I am wondering if it would be too shallow of an understanding to be worth reading. I wonder if perhaps single installments such as Stalingrad would be a better way to get a depper appreciation for what happed during the war. 

I was a little underwhelmed by his The Second World War. It was too big a subject for him I thought. His style works best when he can easily cover both the overall story of events and give lots of anecdotal stuff of what it was like for individual people involved.

Generally Stalingrad and its thematic sequel Berlin: the Downfall are generally considered his masterpieces I think.

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2 hours ago, A wilding said:

I was a little underwhelmed by his The Second World War. It was too big a subject for him I thought. His style works best when he can easily cover both the overall story of events and give lots of anecdotal stuff of what it was like for individual people involved.

Generally Stalingrad and its thematic sequel Berlin: the Downfall are generally considered his masterpieces I think.

That’s what I afraid of. Not to dismiss Beevor, I think trying to cram the entirety of WWII into a single volume is too tall a task for anyone really. 

As much as the Spanish prelude (is that an apt name?) interests me, i am also hoping to learn more about the island hopping campaign in the Pacific. The only battles I know a good deal about are Pearl Harbor, Midway and Iwo Jima. Even the Japanese invasion of Manchuria is on my radar. The Rape of Nanking has always seemed like it warrants more attention. 

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I think with WWII single-volume books you generally have to go for a stepped-back approach which looks at the war from a general angle (because so many people don't even know that), so something like the book version of the TV series The World at War actually gives a fairly succinct account of the broad beats of the war in just 400 pages. The second you go in deep, like Keegan and Beevor try to do, you run into problems that you're not going to go in deep enough to cover everything needs to be covered in real detail without making it a massive mega-series (in that sense, Churchill's account may be more interesting, aside from the obvious interest of getting his thoughts on the conflict day-by-day).

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Not sure if anyone has mentioned them yet, but after watching The Darkest Hour, I've been reading Churchill's multi-volume autobiography of the War years.  It's very fascinating stuff.  Most interesting is his use of letters and published essays/articles throughout (which make up the bulk of the text) so you aren't just reading someone's hindsight 20/20 view of things. 

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Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder is the book that filled in the most missing pieces for me. It focuses on everything from the Eastern Front from WWI to the reprisals after WWII. 

The numbers of dead are beyond staggering. The Holocaust itself was only a small percentage of the deaths in this area during these years.

Edited by Stego

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18 hours ago, Zupoleon said:

 

Also, Dan Carlin's 6-part WWI series on Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon...

Better than any single WWI book ever written. Don't sleep on Dan fucking Carlin.

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I just finished Eugene B. Sledge's WWII memoir, With the Old Breed, tracing his experiences with the 1st Marine Division, K/3/5 to be precise, at the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Highly recommended for a first-person account of those battles.

Seeing as it's the centennial of the end of WW1, I plan on finally reading a few of the titles on my TBR list for that subject.

I'm roughly a quarter through Mark Thompson's The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919. The author is really taking both sides to task for incompetence, especially the Italians and their blind nationalism. Quite good so far. I've read it's a bit of a recommendation by default since it's one of the only real English-language works on that front.

I'm looking at Gallipoli next. Possibly Alan Moorehead's or Les Carlyon's work if I can find it. I may bite the bullet and spend the money on the first two volumes of C.E.W. Bean's The Official History of Australia in the War 1914-1918.

I'll probably follow that up with the Ottomans non-Gallipoli experiences. Eugene Rogan's The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East.

I also aim to read some of the more famous memoirs and novels: Vera Brittain's A Testament of Youth, Robert Graves Goodbye to All That, Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Henri Barbusse's Under Fire, Pierre Berton's Vimy if I can find a copy. I'm sure I'll find others during the coming year as well.

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Has anyone read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer? It’s pretty highly rated on Goodreads, but at ~1600 pages, it’s a slog. 

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15 hours ago, Astromech said:

I also aim to read some of the more famous memoirs and novels: Vera Brittain's A Testament of Youth, Robert Graves Goodbye to All That, Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Henri Barbusse's Under Fire, Pierre Berton's Vimy if I can find a copy. I'm sure I'll find others during the coming year as well.

I would suggest also Undertones of War by Edmund Blunden. It was written mostly as self therapy and gives a very good impression of what it must have been like to be on the Western Front. I think it is available online.

 

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31 minutes ago, A wilding said:

I would suggest also Undertones of War by Edmund Blunden. It was written mostly as self therapy and gives a very good impression of what it must have been like to be on the Western Front. I think it is available online.

 

Thanks. I'll give it a look. There is so much good literature that came out of WWI.

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On 13/02/2018 at 10:42 AM, Spaßvogel said:

Not sure if anyone has mentioned them yet, but after watching The Darkest Hour, I've been reading Churchill's multi-volume autobiography of the War years.  It's very fascinating stuff.  Most interesting is his use of letters and published essays/articles throughout (which make up the bulk of the text) so you aren't just reading someone's hindsight 20/20 view of things. 

I mentioned it in the post immediately above yours :)

 

Quote

 

Has anyone read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer? It’s pretty highly rated on Goodreads, but at ~1600 pages, it’s a slog. 

Yes, it's a very readable account of the rise of the Nazi Party in the interwar years as well as a very effective account of the war itself. Shirer was a journalist based in Berlin during the period, rather than a historian, and was present at many key moments. He was at Munich and even witnessed the French surrender, which Hitler insisted take place in the exact same railway carriage where the Germans signed the 1918 armistice (he had it taken back to Berlin and put on display, where it got blown up by an American bomber in 1945).

From that POV it's very engaging and never feels its length (unlike other massive tomes, like Alan Bullock's interesting but ponderous Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives). It is, however, a product of its time and perspective. As a journalistic account of the war it's very interesting. As a historical text it's best approached with caution and contrasted with other books using more documents and sources that emerged after the war.

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I remember reading some posters thought Beevor was too sympathetic to the Soviets. I find that interesting cause I’m halfway through The Fall of Berlin and I think it’s the opposite way around. I thought there was a lot of focus on Soviet atrocities and not enough on the Nazis. The retreat to Berlin gives them an underdog vibe which was not what I was expecting. 

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