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Editor's Choice Awards for 2005
Since 2000 we've been bestowing our annual Editor's Choice Awards on favorites from WWII-related books published in the preceding year, awards sometimes known with humor and affection as the "Stonies." We peruse, read, and review quite a few books each year, and during that time we separate a little wheat from a great deal of chaff. The Stonies allow us to select and acknowledge the titles we rate as the most important new releases of the year.
Mind you, these awards are in their own way just as subjective and imperfect as any other method of honoring books. 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.
The year 2005 started slowly but built momentum with quite a few strong releases in the later months. Interestingly, the year brought the best crop of books we've seen in quite awhile covering the war in Asia and the Pacific. Of course, D-Day and the Normandy campaign remained at the forefront, but it was a weaker year than usual for the Russian Front. Some familiar authors and publishers scored continuing successes, but some new faces also made themselves known.
With all those great new titles arriving on our doorstep during the last twelve months, we managed to read quite a few books we considered top-notch. However, we always limit our annual choices to the very best of the year rather than aiming for a particular number or trying to be overly inclusive. This year we limited our selections to five titles as the creme de la creme.
Without further ado, the Stone & Stone Editor's Choice Awards for non-fiction books about World War II published in 2005, the Stonies, in alphabetical order by author:
Frieser, Karl-Heinz. The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005
With fresh information and fresh insights, Frieser sheds new light on the planning, conduct, and consequences of Germany's "lightning" victory in 1940.
Glantz, David. Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2005
Colonel Glantz continues to prove his mastery of the Russian Front with this huge volume packed with incredibly detailed information about the organization, leadership, and doctine of the Soviet Army.
Parshall, Jonathan and Anthony Tully. Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2005
The best account of Midway from the Japanese perspective and probably the best treatment of the nuts and bolts of Japanese carrier operations.
Reid, Brian A. No Holding Back: Operation Totalize, Normandy, August 1944. Toronto: Robin Brass Studio, 2005
In a crowded field of excellent books about Canadian forces published within the last couple of years, this might very well be the best of the lot.
Shores, Christopher. Air War for Burma: The Allied Air Forces Fight Back in South-East Asia, 1942-1945. London: Grub Street, 2005
Although lacking most of the lively accounts contributed by veteran pilots that helped make the first two Bloody Shambles books so enjoyable, the author's usual day-by-day chronology of air action, victories, and losses earns this volume another big success.
We don't usually include any books beyond the Stonie winners, but this year a few books came so close to the topmost echelon that we've decided to list the Honorable Mentions. Not quite the Stonies, but very good indeed:
- Balkoski, Joseph. Utah Beach: The Amphibious Landing and Airborne Operations on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2005
- Farrell, Brian P. The Defence and Fall of Singapore, 1940-1942. Stroud, UK: Tempus Publishing, 2005
- Smith, Colin. Singapore Burning: Heroism and Surrender in World War II. New York: Viking, 2005
- Willmott, H.P. The Battle of Leyte Gulf: The Last Fleet Action. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005
- Zuehlke, Mark. Holding Juno: Canada's Heroic Defence of the D-Day Beaches: June 7-12, 1944. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2005
Finally, although our self-imposed rules mandate that only books published for the first time in English during the calendar year qualify for inclusion in the Stonies, it's well-worth noting that the single most important book about the naval war in WWII was released in a revised and expanded edition during 2005: Rohwer, Jurgen. Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939-1945: The Naval History of World War Two. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2005.
Our warm congratulations and thanks go out to the authors, editors, publishers, and booksellers who brought us these primo titles of 2005, as well as all the other great new books that arrived last year to enrich and enliven the body of Second World War literature.
Now we start searching for the best new books of 2006!
Previous Editor's Choice winners:
Editor's Choice for 1999
Editor's Choice for 2000
Editor's Choice for 2001
Editor's Choice for 2002
Editor's Choice for 2003
Editor's Choice for 2004
Reviewed 8 January 2006
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone