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Author Topic: WWII Book Review  (Read 23952 times)

Offline manchesterreg

  • bookworm
  • Posts: 58
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2017, 09:11:11 PM »
Ive had the pleasure of reading this book, available from Amazon, it's a very heavy and large book, packed with information and photographs and put together extremely well, whilst its price may seem high, its certainly not for what you get.

Offline Wellington Bonaparte

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Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2017, 11:03:30 PM »
I'll start with one of my absolute favourites.

'With The Jocks' - A Soldiers Struggle For Europe 1944-45. Peter White.

A vivid and graphic account written by an officer at the sharp end of the KOSB actions, from the battle for Walcheren right through to the bitter end at Bremen. Very readable, full of detail, sad, gripping and very worthwhile. Lots of details of the actions and people involved.

The original manuscript was apparently hidden away for 50 years.

Highly recommended. A book that I come back to often.

I totally agree with all you have said abo e an amazingand evocative book. White was a South African artillery officer who found himself transferred to a Kings Own Scottish Borderers bn in 1944.
His book reminds me of Ambrose's 'Band of brothers'  and would make a great film, the only major problem is its British, and if portrayed correctly the Jocks would all have very strong accents which would need sub titles to make sense! Having been and Englishman in a Scottish Bn, I can tell it can be hard work.
Any one interested in the British infantry in the late war really should have this book. Incidentally the author was an artist by profession and the drawings in the book are all from his collection many done at the time.

Offline Hummster

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Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2017, 04:41:17 PM »
I'll agree with the recommendations for "With the Jocks" and add a couple more

Hell in Hurtgen Forest: The Ordeal and Triumph of an American Infantry Regiment by Robert S Rush. Very detailed account of the fighting in the Hurtgenwald by the US 22 Infantry Regiment. It is revealing for his analysis of the US replacement system as well as the fighting.

D-Day to Victory: The Diaries of a British Tank Commander - Sgt Trevor Greenwood, based on diaries kept during the fighting from Normandy through to VE day in Europe so giving a feel for the day to day life in a tank regiment.

Offline Sir Rodney Ffing

  • scientist
  • Posts: 379
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2017, 09:16:19 AM »
I have just finished reading "Come to Dust" by Robin Maugham.  It is a slightly fictionalised (names changed and a few real life persons merged into one character) account of his time in 4CLY serving in North Africa.  The author took part in Operation Crusader as a troop leader (in a Crusader regiment as it happens) and in Gazala as the regiment's IO (with much dashing about in a scout car).  It is a gripping narrative combining vivid descriptions of actions he was involved in with nitty gritty detail of what desert service was like and some personal reflections.  The book was written from the author's hospital bed as he recovered from wounds sustained in the Gazala battles and published in 1945.  Out of print, of course, but highly recommended and well worth tracking down if you can find a second hand copy.  Mine was ex-library stock found on the internet.    
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 01:41:02 PM by Sir Rodney Ffing »

Offline wrgmr1

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Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2017, 01:32:07 AM »
"Brazen Chariots by Robert Crisp". It's essentially a diary of one Honey troop commanders experiences during the desert Crusader battles. It really gives you an idea of what it was like in a tank during these confusing and sometimes terrifying battles. I dig this one out every two years or so just for a good read.

"Guns of Normandy", "Guns of Victory" and "Where the Hell are the Guns" are books by Canadian George G. Blackburn. He was an artillery officer with the 3rd Canadian division in Normandy and Holland. A gritty and extremely personal experience of what it was like in Normandy and after. He details how the guns worked and the devastation a full AGRA (Army Group Royal Artillery) could do the the Germans. A lowly FOO could call in an SOS and get every gun within range to hit a target the size of a football pitch in a few minutes.

Offline Jockjay

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  • 'reet.
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2018, 04:19:08 PM »
Review of Jason D Mark's Island of Fire: The Battle for Barrikady Gun Factory. (Leaping Horseman Books)

Note: this is not a boast that I own this rare book. It was a pain to get, I have hunted book shops and car boot sales for ages in the hope of getting it, then my wife ruined my game and bought a copy from the author in Australia. 

This book only covers a 3 month period of the battle, but in that time so much blood was shed by both sides for what rubble remained of the gun factory, and the drama and tragedy experienced by soldiers there makes for incredible reading.

Mark explains how he personally interviewed many German and Russian veterans to get as many first hand accounts as possible. He researched low level formation reports from both sides, and concentrates on smaller unit movements rather than large scale operations. Admittedly this book is more orientated around the German Pioneer battalions and their stories, as Mark states, we do not have many records from German section commanders.

As an ex soldier myself, I genuinely had to put the book down a few times, as the graphic descriptions from the veterans really made me think about that level of suffering, and how I would not wish that upon anyone. It also gave me even more respect for the soldiers of the Eastern Front, to fight in that environment with minimal support, food or ammunition must have been horrendous.

Each soldier who is mentioned or interviewed is annotated with their date of birth, and date of death/ MIA. Just reading these margin passages, clocking the age of some of these soldiers makes it more real than many of the books I have read. There are hundreds of pictures and maps, even detailing which corner of a certain house on the map was manned by whom. An incredible attention to detail, I would not be doing it justice by trying to describe every faucet.

The to and fro, and brutality of the house to house fighting, is explained well, describing individual actions, after a while of reading the maps and units, you can almost see the action in your mind's eye. Keen attention to detail to soldiers equipment and weaponry is a great addition, as by that point it was very safe to assume that no one in the Barrikady area was using standard SOP kit, accounts of the Germans preferring the PPsH are rife in the book. Mark's approach really does give a feel of a grunt's perspective. It does not linger too long on the overarching battle raging through Stalingrad, but holds a microscope over one fiercely contested area. 

It is a flipping expensive book. And it has taken me a year to get through it without damaging it. But it has been worth every penny, as I have yet to read so detailed an account on any battle in Stalingrad yet, and arguably have not read a book that has forced me to empathize so much with the soldiers who fought so bravely there.

If you are interested in the Stalingrad theater, I cannot recommend this enough.


Offline Abwehrschlacht

  • scientist
  • Posts: 361
    • Storm of Steel Blog
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2018, 09:48:49 PM »
I am not sure if anyone has mentioned this book about the Malaya Campaign: Japan's Greatest Victory/Britain's Greatest Defeat (Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MSHTwu). It's by Masanobu Shuji the Japanese Colonel in charge of the operation. The speed at which the Japanese army advanced down the Malay peninsular is amazing and described in quite some detail. Stepping away from the military history, it is also interesting to see that Shuji glosses over the Japanese atrocities that were carried out on the civilian population and gives you an insight into how some of the Japanese army saw the war they were fighting. I used the book when I was researching the fall of Singapore and, as I mentioned, if you read between the lines, it's an interesting take on the campaign.

Offline Helen

  • The Grey Heron
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Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2018, 10:08:34 PM »
Thanks for your review.

Having spent a period of time posted in Malaya it was good to tour some of the battles.

All the best,

« Last Edit: August 27, 2018, 10:46:15 PM by Helen »

Offline Abwehrschlacht

  • scientist
  • Posts: 361
    • Storm of Steel Blog
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2018, 10:25:50 PM »
I got interested in the Malaya campaign and the fall of Singapore when I worked there myself about ten years ago. I spent my weekends visiting the battlefields of a campaign that I knew very little about before.

Offline Helen

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Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2018, 10:46:53 PM »
I was there in 1980 and 1985.

Offline Cubs

  • scatterbrained genius
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  • "I simply cannot survive without beauty ..."
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2018, 11:17:14 AM »
Kokoda - by Peter Fitzsimons

This is an account of the fierce fighting on New Guinea in late 1942, between a rag-tag group of Australian reservists and regular infantry, and a well equipped Japanese invasion force determined to force their way south across the jungles and mountains to reach Port Moresby, a valuable harbour, airfield and possible launchpad for operations against Australia. It is gripping and evocative and a fascinating account of a battle not widely known outside Australia.

A word of caution though; Fitzsimons is an enthusiastic, one might even say fanatical, republican and his anti-British and anti-American sentiment drips from the pages. Whilst rightly attempting to highlight an important Australian victory that was rare in that it was directly defending a threat to the Australian mainland rather than the broader Allied aims of the war, he rather over-plays his hand and displays wilful blindness to the importance of broader strategic aims. There is great bitterness in his writing towards the fact that Australian military decisions were part of a larger scheme which meant that Australian troops were posted elsewhere by senior commanders, which in his view meant they were protecting British or American interests, not Australian. If you can get past his lack of military understanding and unashamed partisanship (which is understandable, it's an Australian book for an Australian readership after all), it's a good read and well worth the time.
'Sir John ejaculated explosively, sitting up in his chair.' ... 'The Black Gang'.

Paul Cubbin Miniature Painter

Offline tuco74

  • bookworm
  • Posts: 60
Re: WWII Book Review
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2019, 10:13:09 AM »
I'm currently reading 'Barbarossa' by Alan Clark (deceased now but he was a Tory MP and notable, ahem, 'swordsman').
It's pitched very much at how the various generals and Hitler directed the invasion of Russia and covers a lot about how internal disagreements affected the campaign. That said, it is very readable and although it emphasises the history in military history (if that makes sense) more than I would usually like, I would recommend it.
I've got a couple of Osprey to read next (one of the Gebirgsjager books and one on the Caucasus) but after that I'm looking at buying Beevor's Stalingrad.


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