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Today we present four deserving WWII-related books from a variety of publishers on a variety of topics. Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of all the worthwhile titles being released in this genre, but these all deserve attention from students of the Second World War.
Butler, Daniel Allen. Warrior Queens: The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in World War II. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.
Having previously written books on the Titanic and the Lusitania, Butler turns his attention to less ill-fated vessels. That might mean a bit less drama in the story, but this remains a fascinating account of how the elegant passenger vessels served the Allies as high-speed, high-capacity troop transports. Butler explains how the QM was at sea on an ordinary peacetime voyage when the war broke out, and how the QE, not yet completed, later stole away from the UK to escape German bombs. The book covers the details of how both vessels were refitted for wartime service and chronicles their adventures on the North Atlantic run, including the dramatic incident in which the Queen Mary sliced through the British cruiser Curacoa, cutting it in half as though it were little more than a balsa wood model. Without such fast, commodious transports American troops would have been at far greater risk from U-boats on the voyage to Europe. "Together they logged over one million nautical miles and carried more than one million military personnel."
Metelmann, Henry. Through Hell for Hitler. Havertown, PA: Casemate, 2001.
Originally published in 1990, this reprint (available in the UK from Spellmount) is one of the first offerings from Casemate, which will be publishing some of its own titles while also distributing in the US books from a variety of European publishers. Metelmann's book will certainly attract interest and enthusiasm from the large segment of readers who enjoy first-person narratives from WWII veterans, especially those who fought on the Russian Front. The author joined the German Army as a tank driver early in the war, served briefly on occupation duties in France, and soon transferred to Russia where he served with the 22nd Panzer Division in the Crimea, then in the Stalingrad campaign. This is very much a front soldier's story, including a serious wound, a long trek out of Soviet encirclement, and incidents such as the shooting of an unpopular officer by his own men. Metelmann finally surrendered to the Yanks at the end of the war and served time as a POW in the US and UK, where he married and settled down. Quite a story.
Cora, Paul B. Yellowjackets! The 361st Fighter Group in World War II: P-51 Mustangs over Germany. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2002.
Schiffer remains one of the most prolific publishers of WWII-related books in business today. Although perhaps better known for other kinds of titlessuch as collectibles and militaria and books about military hardwareSchiffer also continues to produce a remarkable number of high-quality USAAF unit histories. In addition to recent titles such as The 448th Bomb Group (H): Liberators over Germany in World War II and The 79th Fighter Group over Tunisia, Sicily and Italy in World War II, Paul Cora's very workmanlike history of the 361st Fighter Group is now available. This mostly follows the same successful formula as other Schiffer air unit histories: an oversize volume with an attractive dust jacket painting, slick pages with ample photographs, gorgeous color plates of representative aircraft from the Group, and solid text which traces the overall course of the air war in Europe while keeping the Group and its men very much in focus. If anything, a bit more emphasis here on a more historical approach and a little less reliance on personal anecdotes. All in all, a fine effort. Definitely of interest to students of the air war, and Schiffer's line of USAAF unit histories is strong enough to turn many mere readers into rabid collectors.
Kane, Robert B. Disobedience and Conspiracy in the German Army, 1918-1945. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2002.
Perhaps the most ambitious of the lot is Robert Kane's detailed examination of what the German Army didand didn't doin resistance to the government in general and Hitler in particular. He begins with the background and development of the oath of loyalty sworn by German soldiers, then looks at the Army in the immediate aftermath of the First World War and during the Weimar Republic. His next three chapters look at the situation during Hitler's early years in power and the immediate pre-war period, with two more chapters devoted to wartime opposition to the Fuehrer. While Stauffenberg and the July 20th plot figure prominently in the latter chapters, Kane finds many other threads of resistance within the Army. He also discusses in some depth how their personal oath of allegiance affected many officers who might otherwise have been more likely to act on their dissatisfactions. Perhaps a little too reliant on English-language sources, but Kane's observations make his book worth a look for anyone interested in this corner of history.
All of these books are available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from the publishers.
Reviewed 17 March 2002
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone
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