Each year for the past five years we've conducted a survey allowing our website visitors to vote for the Top Ten non-fiction books about the Second World War published in that calendar year. Each year the Top Ten has attracted more voters, more nominations, and more ballots, and it's always a fascinating process to watch the votes pour in and the year's titles move up and down in the standings.
At the beginning of each new year with a certain amount of fanfare we announce the Top Ten winners. At the beginning of each new year we also receive without fail messages from perplexed votersand disgruntled authorswho want to know why their favorite books didn't finish atop the standings, and why some less worthy titlesat least in their eyesmanaged to garner so many votes.
Well, there's no accounting for taste. One reader's favorite is another reader's discard, and critical acclaim is no guarantee of popular success. That's why we run the Top Ten voting and let the readers pick the books themselves.
Last year, however, we decided to institute a companion to the Top Ten books of the year: the Editor's Choice Awards. This allows us at Stone & Stone to select and acknowledge the titles we rate as the most important new releases of the year, especially ones that were passed over in the Top Ten voting.
Mind you, these awards are in their own way just as subjective and imperfect as the Top Ten. We can only read so many books in twelve months, and we have our own tastes and preferences about specific topics and about what makes a good book. Buthey!this is our website, so we get to have a little fun once in awhile!
Without further ado, the Stone & Stone Editor's Choice Awards for non-fiction books about World War II published in 2000, in alphabetical order by author:
Cressman, Robert J. The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press
A hugely improved and massively expanded edition of the original US Navy edition of this chronology. The definitive day-by-day account of the USN in WWII. If only it had an index!
Hague, Arnold. The Allied Convoy System, 1939-1945: Its Organization, Defence and Operation. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press
The single most informative book ever published on Allied convoys during the Second World War. Amazing indexes packed with unprecedented details about every North Atlantic convoy that sailed during the war.
Jordan, Roger W. The World's Merchant Fleets, 1939: The Particulars and Wartime Fates of 6,000 Ships. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press
The ultimate guide for shipping lines and merchant ships at the start of the war, including losses and further particulars. Enormous amounts of data all gathered in one place and carefully organized. Like the other two NIP books on this list, an invaluable resource for students of WWII.
May, Ernest R. Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France. New York: Hill and Wang
A big, ambitious book full of information and nuance, supported by reams of endnotes quoting memoirs and official documents, but written in a remarkably crisp and accessible style. A first-class account of the fall of France and a distinguished addition to the literature of World War II.
Osborn, Patrick R. Operation Pike: Britain versus the Soviet Union, 1939-1941. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press
No other author in the year 2000 took such a little-known topic and transformed it into such a great book. This one simultaneously hooks the reader, reveals much that has remained obscure, and convincingly demonstrates how such a remote and forgotten part of the war led to the brink of utterly and irrevocably changing the course of history.
Zetterling, Niklas. Normandy 1944: German Military Organization, Combat Power and Organizational Effectiveness. Winnipeg, Manitoba: J.J. Fedorowicz
A fine job of primary research, and an iconoclastic jolt to many comfortable assumptions about the Normandy campaign. German soldiers certainly were not supermen, and they were never invincible, but in Normandy they absolutely managed to do more with considerably less than most historians have previously conceded. These gusts of facts and opinion are likely to stir up a hurricane of response.
Previous Editor's Choice winners:
Editor's Choice for 1999