|Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew
Historians have long debated whether the origins of the Holocaust can be traced to a German tradition of anti-Semitism that Adolf Hitler was able to channel to his advantage (a view taken by Daniel Goldhagen in his book "Hitler's Willing Executioners"), or whether, instead, the mass murder of Europe's Jewish population was the byproduct of the Nazi war against neighboring states (Christopher Browning's position in "Ordinary Men"). In "Official Secrets", American University historian Richard Breitman proposes an explanation that lies somewhere in between: whereas most ordinary Germans approved of the persecution of Jews, he maintains, the German leadership nonetheless took pains to keep the facts of the Final Solution out of the public eye, fearful that those ordinary Germans might not have approved of wholesale slaughter. Widening the scope of his inquiry, Breitman points out that the Holocaust was well mapped out in the pages of "Mein Kampf", which the Allied leaders had studied well before war broke out. Those leaders also knew, thanks to detailed intelligence reports and intercepted German radio messages, of the existence of extermination camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka. Breitman examines why the Allies did so little to oppose the Holocaust as it unfolded--or, as he puts it, why "the U.S. government and the British government did not try to do what might have worked." His thoughtful answers are likely to excite further debate among historians. "--Gregory McNamee"
|The Onslaught: The German Drive to Stalingrad : Documented in 150 Unpublished Colour Photographs from the German Archive for Art and History
Heinrich Von Einsiedel
The photos are breathtaking not necessarily for their quality - many are washed out and most of the subject matter is routine day to day military stuff - but for their rarity. While the Germans seem to have been at least as far advanced in the use of colour photography as the Americans, there is still a paucity of colour photography in the public record. That is being addressed by the various nations who took large amounts of colour film in an official capacity, including the US, UK, Germany and Canada. The book's captions are adequate to the task, and there are good historical sections, as well as an introduction by Max Hastings as well as commentary by an actual German war corresponent. The strength of the book is in its ability to bring the participants of the subject campaign - the German invasion of Russia up to and including Stalingrad - to life. The use of a large format allows one to note small details of the photos, and relate to the subject matter on a personal level. Despite the lack of "action" shots, there is much to see in facial expressions, uniform details, and especially geography as the Russian steppe is shown in summer and winter, as well as the famous Russian mud (Rasputitsa) about which so much has been written. An attempt to even the balance is awkwardly done, with a few black and white official Soviet photographs tacked on at the end of the book. An admirable attempt at deflecting possible criticism of the book as some sort of "pro-Nazi" tome, but given the nature of Signal magazine, it would be hard to expect much of a balanced coverage of the "other side". Unfortunately, the Soviet photos come off as second best and as an afterthought. If one can suspend one's imagination when looking at long lines of Soviet PoWs (most of whom died in captivity due to mistreatment by the Germans, or died after return to the Soviet Union by the hand of the Stalin regime) and overlook the tragedy of the entire costly, brutal war in the east, the photographs will help bring a visceral understanding of the experiences of German soldiers there, and cast some light on how Soviet civilians lived at the time as well.
|Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II
Historian Michael Gannon argues that the systematic assault by German submarines on merchant tankers and freighters along the U.S. eastern seaboard in 1942 "constituted a greater strategic setback for the Allied war effort than did the defeat at Pearl Harbor." The case for the claim is intriguing and includes a damaging assessment of the U.S. naval command, which ignored information that might have allowed it to avert the disaster, but Gannon never lets his argument distract from the compelling wartime story. Through original interviews and archival research, he describes the exploits of U-123 and its 28-year-old Lieutenant Commander Reinhard Hardegen, who terrorized American home waters on two separate missions. "Operation Drumbeat" presents a remarkable picture of life on the U-boats. (Fans of the movie "Das Boot" especially won't want to miss it.) Gannon's book eventually may become a classic work of naval history; for now it's a great book on a particular aspect of the Second World War. "--John J. Miller"
|Operation Iceberg : The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II
A unique re-creation of one of the century's most decisive battles--the terrible, four-month conflict that preceded by a scant eight weeks the Japanese surrender on V-J Day. Operation Iceberg, as it was known, saw the fiercest attack of kamikazes in the entire Pacific Theater of War. The U. S. fleet suffered severe losses: 34 ships sunk, 368 damaged, 5,000 sailors killed and 5,000 more wounded. Before the Japanese, with a garrison of 100,000, finally surrendered, 7,700 American soldiers were killed and 31,800 were wounded. In "Operation Iceberg" Gerald Astor draws on the raw experience of marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen under fire, from generals and admirals to correspondents, line officers and enlisted men on "both" sides of the battle lines. Their accounts are dramatic and graphic, brutal and awe-inspiring. Based on these first-hand accounts, and presenting a view of the battle that places it in the greater context of the entire Pacific theater, "Operation Iceberg" is a remarkable account of the last great battle of World War II.
|Operation Sea Lion: German Plan for the Invasion of England
No dust jacket. Includes maps in back of book.
|Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy
Hastings strips away the mythology of the "triumphant" march across Western Europe from D-Day to the Falaise Gap. We see instead often confused, all too timid generalship, poor training and worse execution that may have lengthened the European war by months. Hastings is the very best of the current crop of WWII historians. Jerry