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Editor's Choice Awards for books of 2009
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.
From the perspective of those who purchase and read new books about WWII, the business seems to have continued to suffer in 2009. What we wrote last year applies all over again. "Publishing houses, including publishers of WWII-related books, seemed not to be immune to global economic problems. All the evidence indicates that publishers found it increasingly difficult to thrive amid a retail meltdown. Fewer WWII titles released, reduced print runs, decreased sales, and diminishing profits trapped many publishers and booksellers in a painful death spiral. Certainly some of our favorite specialized booksellers suffered severely."
Nevertheless, some books of the very highest quality always emerge every year. When we choose the annual Stonies, we never aim for a particular number of top books; instead we seek quality rather than quantity. For 2009 we identified six new books as the "best of the best."
From those six choices, for whatever reason, an unusual pattern emerged. Two of the books came from one author's trilogy about a single campaign. Two books were written by first-time authors (they were at least new to us) about operations in Norway in 1940. One bookand this one is very nearly outside our self-imposed guidelines for the Stoniesrepresented a major revision of an old title. And one book came from a unique tabulation and assessment of long-forgotten wartime documents. In sum, this made for a rather quirky and narrow range of topics and choices for the year, but that's just the way the books stacked up.
Whatever all that means to readers, without further ado we present the Stone & Stone Editor's Choice Awards for non-fiction books about World War II published in 2009, the Stonies, in alphabetical order by author:
||Alden, John D. and Craig R. McDonald
United States and Allied Submarine Successes in the Pacific and Far East during World War II. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2009.
The fourth edition amasses data from a wide range of sources to produce a comprehensive reference book about what the submariners thought they had accomplished, buteven more what they actually achieved. This version looks like the ultimate compendium of accurate, thoroughly checked and cross-referenced material on the subject.
Canadians under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War. Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queens University, 2009.
Exploiting for the first time a fascinating trove of archival information, Engen conducts a thought-provoking survey of how Allied infantryCanadians in particularfought the war in Europe, and he simultaneously brings new guns to bear on SLA Marshall's controversial studies and theories.
||Glantz, David M. with Jonathan M. House
The Stalingrad Trilogy, volume 1: To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April-August 1942. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009.
In the first volume of a new trilogy, the authors look deeply into the Stalingrad campaign, revealing levels of detail and nuance unmatched by any other work, and setting a new standard for charting the course of Russian Front combat.
||Glantz, David M. with Jonathan M. House
The Stalingrad Trilogy, volume 2: Armageddon in Stalingrad, September-November 1942. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2009.
Colonel Glantz continues to awe Russian Front fans with his third mega-book of the year, this onemeasuring over 900 pagesas important as it is large, and certain to be the definitive history of the battle in the city of Stalin for years to come.
||Haarr, Geirr H.
The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009.
The second major work on the invasion of Norway to appear this year, this one focusing on the naval campaign. A virtuoso performance by first-time author Haarr.
||Lunde, Henrik O.
Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940. Havertown, PA: Casemate, 2009.
Not just the British perspective, but the best English-language coverage of all the combatants with considerable tactical detail. An excellent job by the author, but the editing and production process wasn't quite as strong.
Our warm congratulations and thanks go out to the authors, editors, publishers, and booksellers who brought us these primo titles of 2009, 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 2010!
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
Editor's Choice for 2005
Editor's Choice for 2006
Editor's Choice for 2007
Editor's Choice for 2008
Reviewed 10 January 2010
Copyright © 2010 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone