World War II in Focus | History, June 2019

From Pearl Harbor to D-Day and beyond, these seven new titles reexamine the events and repercussions of World War II.

Borneman, Walter R. Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona. Little, Brown.
May 2019. 368p. photos. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316438889. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316438872. HIST
With the largest single military naval disaster in American history comes an unexpected tragedy. Using primary sources, including interviews and letters, historian Borneman (The Admirals) deftly brings to life the men serving aboard the USS Arizona and illuminates the tales of the 38 sets of brothers who lived and worked together until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Placing the human story of the Arizona among the political melee that surrounded the United States entering World War II adds great depth to the history of December 7, 1941, and honors those unable to tell their tales for themselves. Offering valuable insight into an event that would eventually help shape how the U.S. military handled family enlistments throughout the war, Borneman gives voice not only to the sailors and marines of Pearl Harbor but also to their parents, wives, and siblings left behind.
VERDICT An excellent popular history, this intimately researched text will appeal to anyone with interest in military or maritime history as well as those who enjoy personal narratives.—Elan Ward, Arizona Western Coll., Yuma

Hamilton, Nigel. War and Peace: FDR’s Final Odyssey: D-Day to Yalta, 1943–1945. Houghton Harcourt. (FDR at War, Bk. 3). May 2019. 592p. photos. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780544876804. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780544868540. HIST
Drawing from primary documents that President Franklin D. Roosevelt planned to use to write his memoirs, as well as diaries from people close to the major figures involved in planning D-Day and the end of World War II, Hamilton presents the final installment of his bibliographic trilogy, after The Mantle of Command and Commander in Chief, tracing an engaging and eye-opening series of events from the Tehran Summit through the Yalta Conference and finally Roosevelt’s untimely death in 1945. Challenging what is conventionally and popularly known about the final political moves of the war through Churchill’s memoirs, the book shows how intimately involved Roosevelt was in coordinating military plans, handpicking leaders, and lobbying for maneuvers to help end the war, even when faced with extreme opposition and suspicion from Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Providing more context about the planning of D-Day, this work makes an ideal companion to presidential historian Michael Beschloss’s The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941–1945 .
VERDICT A fantastic read on its own or as part of the series for anyone interested in World War II political history or presidential memoirs.—Elan Ward, Arizona Western Coll., Yuma

redstar Holland, James. Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Battle for France. Atlantic Monthly. Jun. 2019. 720p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780802129420. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780802147097. HIST
The largest seaborne invasion in history began on June 6, 1944, when more than 150,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. For the next 76 days, British, American, and Canadian soldiers and airmen slowly fought against a retreating but not yet defeated German army. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Battle of Normandy was a brutal but ultimately successful retaking of Europe from Nazi control. Historian Holland (Big Week; The Rise of Germany) thoroughly describes the tactical events leading up to and immediately following D-Day, as well as the many challenges, mistakes, and myths surrounding the battle itself. Personal narratives from both Allied and German officers and air and ground troops, along with technical descriptions of weapons manufacture and use, provide an absorbing perspective on one of the most significant events in modern military history. VERDICT Meticulous attention to large and small detail combined with a conversational writing style make this World War II chronicle accessible for most general readers.—Linda Frederiksen, formerly with Washington State Univ. Lib., Vancouver

Kershaw, Alex. The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II. Dutton. May 2019. 384p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780451490056. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780451490063. HIST
On the early morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of ships of all types dotted the English Channel as far as the eye could see. Hundreds of landing craft plowed through white-capped waves along 60 miles of French beaches to land their cargo of men and materiel to begin the liberation of Nazi-held Europe. Hours earlier, several divisions of British and American paratroopers dropped from the inky darkness to begin the task of securing bridges and crossroads to hinder German responses and pave the way for the main landing forces heading toward the fortified beaches. Historian Kershaw (Avenue of Spies), basing his work on more than 20 years of extensive interviews and other firsthand accounts from D-Day veterans, deftly weaves these stories to put readers in the midst of the battle. The author captures all the mixed feelings of that day: fear, anticipation, excitement, and the selfless acts of courage and heroism encountered in every corner of the battlefield, here focusing on individual soldiers and their stories.
VERDICT Kershaw’s latest will appeal to readers interested in World War II and firsthand accounts of soldiers and their time in battle.—Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH

Lacey, James. The Washington War: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Power That Won World War II. Bantam. May 2019. 592p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780345547583. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780345547590. BIOG
Lacey (military history, Marine Corps War Coll.; The First Clash) provides a comprehensive portrait of the intricacies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s political system leading up to and during America’s involvement in World War II. Showcasing a cast of little-known and behind-the-scenes politicians, and the inevitable ineptitude of officials and organizations to navigate government bureaucracy and political showdowns, Lacey shows how Roosevelt’s whim impacted almost every decision regarding foreign policy. This period saw the rise and fall of numerous government agencies along with the realignment of the American government, including the legal system and the Supreme Court. Lacey’s work is one to pair with a social history such as William K. Klingaman’s The Darkest Year in order to better understand the depth of World War II pandemonium on the home front. Includes several underutilized and primary sources now being revisited in the run up to the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
VERDICT A fantastic account for political scientists, 20th- century World War II and policy historians, and history aficionados. Lacey’s flow of language and wit make this an accessible and compelling read.—Elan Ward, Arizona Western Coll., Yuma

redstarLambert, Ray & Jim DeFelice. Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War. Morrow. May 2019. 320p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780062937483. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062947598. HIST
By writing this memoir, Silver Star recipient Lambert has fulfilled one last duty for his country. While the book might not be the best on D-Day (see Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day and John C. McManus’s The Dead and Those About To Die) it is among the most poignant. The affecting quality partly comes from Lambert having written this in his 90s, collaborating with author DeFelice ( American Sniper). Though primarily focused on the D-Day operations, this account tells much more about the American fight with Nazi Germany. Lambert served as a medic within North African and Sicilian campaigns prior to D-Day and recalls how he treated soldiers in combat, honoring the men whom he saw fall on and off the battlefield. By not naming them yet providing historical insight and character, he grants them honor. VERDICT Released in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this is possibly one last testament to those valiant soldiers who helped secured American victory.—Jacob Sherman, John Peace Lib., Univ. of Texas at San Antonio

Rose, Sarah. D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II. Crown. Apr. 2019. 400p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780451495082. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780451495105. HIST
In 1942, desperate to employ any means necessary to resist the relentless progress toward what seemed an inevitable Nazi victory, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) took the radical and controversial step of recruiting women as secret agents for the first time. Rose (For All the Tea in China) follows the story of a handful of these female saboteurs, trained in England and parachuted into occupied France to transmit intelligence, destroy power lines, and disrupt the German war machine at risk of imprisonment and death. Based on interviews, diaries, and declassified archives, Rose’s history of the women of the SOE details the gritty heroism of these British agents who lived through the worst days of World War II and helped keep the French Resistance alive until D-Day at the cost of their own freedom, families, and lives. Readers who enjoyed Damien Lewis’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare will find this a fascinatingly different facet of the SOE; unlike those special-ops commandos, the agents here had to survive invisibly in the guise of civilians, and later vanish into cover identities once again.
VERDICT A solid read highlighting women’s heroism and resistance during World War II and beyond.—Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib, Atlanta

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