“World War II: Battle by Battle” by Nickolai Bogdanovic

What are the images that come readily to your mind when you think of World War II? Amongst others, the ones which flash in my mind are the Spitfires in the Battle of Britain; tired British soldiers waiting to be rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk; the U-Boat packs raiding Allied shipping in the Atlantic; the siege of Stalingrad and the bloody winter wars in Russia; D-Day and the landings on Normandy; the last days of the Third Reich in Berlin; the US Marines hoisting the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima; and the formal Japanese Surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

The Second World War which raged between 1939 and 1945 is said to have claimed more than 60 million lives, both military and civilian. However, there will perhaps never be an exact figure for this. This was truly a World War, far wider in scope than the First World War of 1914-1918 as the battles were fought not just in mainland Europe but also in South East Asia going as far as some remote islands of the Pacific Ocean.

A compact publication I enjoyed reading recently was  “World War II: Battle by Battle” by Nickolai Bogdanovic, published by Osprey Publishing.  

Volumes have been written about the War but in this book, thirty of the World War II Battles are described quite succinctly. This gives the reader a bird’s eye view of some of the most important battles that were fought in that time.  Many of them were responsible for turning the course of the War.

The writer has not restricted himself to the battles in Europe. He has covered some of the battles in South East Asia and in the Pacific which were equally important from that region’s perspective. The feats of military leaders on both the Allied and Nazi sides are explained in brief as befitting a book that seeks to cover a very wide spectrum.  In my view, a short preface giving a broad overview of the Second World War would have been useful, especially for the uninitiated.

Students of military history and young people at large who have heard of the War but may have a sketchy idea of the battles would be well advised to read this book. I am sure they will enjoy it.

 

 

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“Where The Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea, 1941-44” by Robert Forczyk

Robert Forczyk has written extensively on the Second World War, especially about the battles between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  “Where The Iron Crosses Grow” which I completed some time ago but could not review earlier due to my ill-health is a detailed account of the battles for the Crimea spread over the period 1941 to 1944. I find that Dr. Forczyk has a Ph.D in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland and this brings to bear a meticulous mind in researching and presenting material in his book.

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“Plotting Hitler’s Death” by Joachim Fest

For most who have followed accounts of the Second World War, the only story that comes to mind when we talk about plots to kill Hitler revolve around Count Stauffenberg. I was delighted to come across this book, “Plotting Hitler’s Death” ( The German Resistance to Hitler) by Joachim Fest. The book translated into English by Bruce Little from the original, “Staatsstreich: Der lange Weg zum. 20. Juli”  was first published in Germany in 1994, almost 50 years after Stauffenberg’s attempt to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944.

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Authors I Admired: William L. Shirer

I am not sure which was the first book about the Second World War that I read as a kid. I rather suspect it was “Reach For The Sky” by Paul Brickhill, that enthralling story of Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader, the legless RAF fighter ace. This led me to read more and more books based on the Second World War and due to my interest in military history, I became a confirmed fan of stories about the War. I must add that I was reading them in India some 20 odd years after the war had ended with the total surrender of first Nazi Germany, and later of the Imperial Japan of those times. Continue reading “Authors I Admired: William L. Shirer”