3/27/15

Five for Friday 34: A Stack of World War 2 Books

My most recent World War 2 reading has taken me a bit off the beaten path. As near as I can tell, I have read about 100 books on WW2, going back to childhood. I am still as fascinated as ever by the single biggest (and worst) event in human history, but I am more interested now in the cultural and political aspects of the war and less interested in the actual combat. Here are my latest five books (in alphabetical order):

  • The Battle for History: Re-Fighting World War II by John Keegan. I am a John Keegan fan and picked up this book used. Keegan has a great recommended reading section at the end of his book, The Second World War. The Battle for History is an expansion of his recommended reading with more background on the academic debates around certain concepts and theories. I found it to be a quick and enjoyable read.
  • Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear. A forgotten side of Dr. Seuss. Some fascinating things here: (1) Before the U.S. entry into the war, Geisel was a liberal who advocated intervention against the fascists; and (2) Geisel wasn't perfect but he did a pretty good job of avoiding racial and ethnic stereotypes in a medium where it was rampant during WW2.
  • The Red Orchestra by Gilles Perrault. I picked this book up used some time ago and finally read it. He focuses on the Brussels and Paris circles of the Soviet WW2 spy ring known as the Red Orchestra. The key figure here is Leopold Trepper and Perrault's book is based primarily on face-to-face interviews with former spies and spy-chasers. The book is flawed and subsequent research, using then unavailable documents and records, highlights the flaws. 
  • Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra by Shareen Blair Brysac. Again, another book picked up years ago in a used bookstore. I read it after reading Perrault's book. It is well-written and sympathetic treatment of Mildred Harnack, an American woman executed by the Nazis, at the personal direction of Hitler, for her part in an underground resistance and espionage circle. It is very well-researched and balanced. I was surprised to find out that Mildred's husband, Arvid, was a cousin to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran pastor and theologian. Bonhoeffer is popular in a variety of Christian circles because of his role in the German resistance movement and his execution by the Nazis shortly before the war ended.

Previous World War 2 related posts:
My Favorite World War 2 Books
My Latest World War 2 Reads
More World War 2 Books
Even More World War 2 Books
Yet More World War 2 Books

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