Book Suggestions

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Book Suggestions

Unread postby Ritalingamer » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:19 pm

If you're playing Unity of Command and other wargames, you're probably a history nerd like me.

So, what books would you recommend, particularly about World War 2?

Here are a few of my favorites:
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose - Ambrose has lost a lot of respect over the last decade, because of his plagiarism, but it doesn't change the fact that Band of Brothers is a moving, intimate portrait of what combat is like for infantrymen.

Armored Thunderbolt by Steven Zaloga - Zaloga has some surprising insights and overturns old myths about the Sherman tank. In his assessment, it was a good tank, albeit hobbled by the US Army's reluctance to upgrade or replace it. I'm currently working with Tomislav on a review of this book.

Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1942: Schwerpunkt by Robert Forczyk - I'm still reading this one, but it's an exhaustively detailed discussion of German and Soviet doctrine in the first two years of the war. It's really fun to read this book while playing the battles depicted in Unity of Command.

Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II by Jeffrey Cox - A gripping and vivid description of the rise and fall of ABDACOM and the conquest by Japan of the East Indies. I love how it includes a lot of detail about otherwise obscure ships like the USS Langley and gives very good portraits of leaders like Tommy Hart, Conrad Helfrich, and Karel Doorman.

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshal and Anthony Tully - This book is a rare gem - a groundbreaking history (using Japanese sources and using skilled analysis to question old conclusions) that is excellently written and an easy read. The best thing about this book is how it shows the rarely seen Japanese side of the battle and explains Nagumo and Yamamoto's decisions.

So, which book are your favorites? What should I read next Let's help each other out!

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Re: Book Suggestions

Unread postby U-47 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:57 pm

The Third Reich trilogy by Richard J. Evans is a fantastic read and would recommend it to any WWII enthusiast interested in Nazi Germany. Hitlers U-boats is also another fantastic read if you're interested in U boats, though be warned many call it a dry read, but since U boats are what I predominantly study for my future profession I didn't seem to notice.

Links if interested:

Third Reich Trilogy: ... rd+j+evans ... rd+j+evans ... rd+j+evans

Hitlers U-boats: ... 102%2C160_ ... 109%2C160_

My apologies if links aren't allowed, I haven't had the time to read the forum rules just yet.

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Re: Book Suggestions

Unread postby Ritalingamer » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:44 pm

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Re: Book Suggestions

Unread postby Danielefc » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:43 am

I'll go with these two:

Wages of Deestruction by Adam Tooze ... 0143113208

This one is an evaluation of the German war economy in comparison to the other warring nations. It is filled to the brim with very very interesting data and analysis. It kills of many old and die-hard myths like: the lack of German economic mobilization pre- and early war, the genius of Albert Speer, lack of introduction of female workers etc etc, Most of all it underlines the utter hopelessness of the axis' position.

Most will disregard this book offhand due to the "economic history" label. But it really is a must read for anyone who wants to discuss possible outcomes of world war 2 (turns out there was ever only one if you ask this pile of paper ;) ).

Crete - the Battle and the Resistance, by Antony Beevor ... 0813320801

A much more "relaxing" book than the above. One of Beevor's first books. It covers the German airborne invasion of Crete in 1941 and the subsequent resistance up until its liberation. Sadly not many books on Crete exist - but this one is my favourite of the bunch. Many will say its not as well put together as his later works, but i disagree. Well written dramatic events and a boatload of "fun sidestories".

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Re: Book Suggestions

Unread postby Csh2724 » Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:26 am

Chris Bellamy's Red God of War is the best introduction to Soviet artillery in English. Unfortunately it's only Glasnost era, so despite general accuracy it's lacking some specifics, and its WWII section is very short.
David Zabecki's Steel Wind, which details the work and influence of Bruchmueller (including on the Soviets, his biggest fans), is a very informative text for inter-war and WWII artillery doctrine.

Walter Dunn's The Soviet Economy and the Red Army is a very pricey book, but if you can find it in a library it's well worth a read. The sheer glut of industrial strength available to the USSR is usually summarised fairly well by others, but it's well worth looking at the book they're all referring to when they do so.

Ed. by Krause & Philips Historical Perspectives on the Operational Art is an invaluable book in general, but the section on the Soviet-German War (written by David Glantz, no less) is especially so. An excellent study, and a free one at that. ... _70-89.pdf

David Glantz's Soviet Military Intelligence in War and Soviet Military Deception in the Second World War are highly informative. The imperfect information available to Soviets and to the Germans in particular (courtesy of the FHO's 1941-2 errors) informs many of the operational decisions made in that period. Glantz makes a compelling case that that Soviet tactical and operational performance hinged to a large extent upon the proper collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about the enemy. He also points out that strategic and partisan intelligence (e.g. Enigma decrypts detailing the exeuction of Operation Zitadelle four days after it had begun) was not as valuable as we often assume given its frustrating generality and irregularity.

On the German side, David Stahel's trilogy of books detailing the actual strength and performance of the Panzer Armies (including down to specific divisions) during the Barbarossa, Kiev, and Taifun offensives has made some waves recently. While he does piggyback to a large extent upon the research and analysis of others, he also shows his work when it comes to the deterioration of German combat and logistical (i.e. the Transportwesen truck fleet attached to the Army Groups) strength. While he doesn't actually understand the operational art per se, as with many people who largely or exclusively study German doctrine and operations, he does make a very strong case that German understanding of it was (to paraphrase Zabecki) little more than 'tactics writ large' with little-to-no understanding of or respect for the problems presented by food, fuel, and ammunition consumption over time and in adverse conditions. In the latter books the disconnect between German expectations (total victory in a matter of weeks) and capabilities (barely able to stand fast) is very starkly, and well, portrayed.

Of course, with his discussion of utter German inadequacy in logistical terms Stahel relies heavily upon Martin van Creveld's Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton - which is, itself, a compelling and extremely worthwhile book. It makes clear the true idiocy of Barbarossa and Taifun, and makes one wonder if Franz Halder & co. had two brain cells to rub together.

On a final note, Halder &c's decisions make a great deal more sense if one actually reads Halder's Kriegstagebuch - or better yet, the summary, since the book itself is a massive and expensive volume.

Also, and this is probably incredibly redundant given that we're all presumably Soviet-German War buffs here, but Chris Bellamy's Absolute War and Glantz & House's various works (Stumbling Colossus, When Giants Clashed, etc) really are fantastic.

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Re: Book Suggestions

Unread postby Ritalingamer » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:21 pm