Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Remember Pearl Harbor

History in every century,
records an act that lives forevermore.
We'll recall as in to line we fall,
the thing that happened on Hawaii's shore.

As we go to meet the foe
As we did the Alamo.

We will always remember
how they died for liberty,
and go on to victory.

Words by Don Reid. Music by Don Reid and Sammy Kaye. Republic Music Corp., NYC, 1941.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War

The Wall Street Journal says it best: "This scholarly yet entertaining magnum opus is the definitive account of all the stratagems used by the Allies against the Axis in World War II."

The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War is a monumental work by Thaddeus Holt. It is, indeed, a magnum opus, clocking in at 1,148 pages (which includes a highly detailed bibliography, maps, appendixes, and index) full of intrigue, danger, and, of course, deception.

Holt was the first to have access to the recently declassified and surviving records of numerous important documents pertaining to war-time Allied deception. His highly detailed prose delivers a compelling portrait of the extreme lengths taken by the Allies to win World War II.

The sheer magnitude of research that went into this book is hard to fathom, but it also makes it a must-have source for those interested in this particular aspect of World War II for scholarly purposes or for sheer entertainment. It ably meets both purposes.

Visit Skyhorse Publishing to learn more about The Deceivers and other great history titles!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. I was not compensated monetarily.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Enjoy a World War II Christmas

I've just found the perfect Christmas gift for all World War II enthusiasts: a compilation of 49 radio shows, songs, and live broadcasts during the Christmas holiday from the World War II era.

And all for $5.

No, I'm not being paid to share this information with you. I just happen to think it's an incredibly good deal and one that you shouldn't pass up!

Visit Old Time Radio Catalog to order the Christmas CD and don't forget to browse through the hundreds of other CDs available!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

God bless all the veterans, past and present, of the U.S. Military Forces. Thank you for keeping the United States a FREE nation!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do We Need an Enemy? Guest Post by Lisbeth Eng

Since the end of World War II, all of our former foes are now staunch allies: Germany, Japan and Italy. Even Russia, our WWII ally, turned enemy during the Cold War, is back to being a friend (or at least a cordial acquaintance). Germany, often seen as the most evil entity of World War II, is now our partner in Afghanistan and one of the leading democracies of the world. This is not an accident. I believe it proves that people are people, though politics, circumstances and occasionally an insane leader (i.e. Hitler) can turn an entire nation into an enemy.

My recently released World War II romance novel, In the Arms of the Enemy, takes place in 1944 Italy and the characters are Italian partisans, Italian Fascists and German soldiers. At this point in the war, Italy has surrendered to the Allies and Mussolini has been deposed. Mussolini is imprisoned, then “rescued” by German commandos and brought to Germany for an audience with Hitler. The F├╝hrer convinces Il Duce to return to Italy as a puppet dictator, while the German army takes control of the north, and tries to hold back the Allied forces advancing from the south. The Italian Resistance fights the Germans and their Fascist allies by any means possible. Though not recognized as regular combatants under international treaties in effect at the time, they participate in combat against the German forces, as well as in sabotage and espionage missions.

Isabella Ricci, the heroine of In the Arms of the Enemy, serves her country as a member of the Italian Resistance. She has been an anti-Fascist for years, but her zeal is inflamed after she witnesses the unjust execution of her own brother by the Germans. She does not engage in combat; she is a spy. Her mission is to seduce a German officer into revealing military secrets, which she then passes on to her comrades in the Resistance. Further complicating matters for her is the fact that her boyfriend and commander, Massimo Baricelli, sends her on this espionage/seduction mission.

There is no individual villain in my book. The principal characters, whether German or Italian, are portrayed as human beings with their own personalities, strengths and flaws. I do not gloss over the atrocities committed by the German army in Italy between 1943 and 1945. I allude to them, but that is not the main focus of my book. I have done extensive research on the war and the Holocaust and have read perhaps a little too much about all the horrible things Germans did. But I have also researched ordinary German soldiers and have read their memoirs. There was a German Resistance, unfortunately rather unsuccessful in defying National Socialism in their country. An excellent introduction to the subject is Conscience in Revolt – Sixty-Four Stories of Resistance in Germany, 1933-45 by Annedore Leber, available in English translation from Westview Press.

But the German Resistance is not the focus of my book either. In the Arms of the Enemy is the story of ordinary people who, either by choice or circumstance, are caught up in the horror that was World War II, and how these human beings react to the situation in which they find themselves.

As a people, do we need an enemy? During wartime, the enemy is clearly defined. Looking back on World War II, we Americans can pride ourselves in having helped defeat one of the most evil men of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler, and halting his aggression. We have since become close allies of Germany, our former enemy, and were instrumental both in helping the decimated people of that country rebuild after the war, and in German Reunification, celebrated almost exactly twenty years ago. Old enemies have become friends and partners.

Today, the US is again at war, and we currently have new enemies. I can only hope that someday, as we did with the Germans, Japanese and Italians, we can put that enmity aside, form fruitful partnerships and forge peace. Millions of people – Americans, Britons, French, Poles, Soviets, Jews, Germans, Japanese, Italians and countless others – perished in the Second World War. Perhaps war is an unavoidable consequence of human existence. Perhaps war itself is the enemy. But I continue to hope for peace and reconciliation.

BIO: An English major in college, Lisbeth Eng has also studied Italian, German and French. Lisbeth is a native New Yorker and has worked as a registered representative in the finance industry for the past 25 years. Her first novel, In the Arms of the Enemy, is available in e-book and paperback at The Wild Rose Press. Lisbeth invites you to visit her at http://www.lisbetheng.com/.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coming Soon: Guest Post from New Author of World War II Novel

I'm excited to announce that Lisbeth Eng will be blogging here at the Best of World War 2 about her new novel, In the Arms of the Enemy, a World War 2 romance with a very unique setting: 1944 Italy.

Lisbeth will be blogging on a very interesting topic: "Do We Need an Enemy?" on October 25.

You won't want to miss this!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Unlikely Spy

Daniel Silva is an immensely talented writer. Since he wrote his debut thriller, The Unlikely Spy, he's gone on to write several other thrillers, most notably those featuring the Israeli special agent, Gabriel Allon.

But The Unlikely Spy is a first-rate World War II thriller. Hard to put down, with numerous twists and turns, and incredibly fast paced, it's one of those rare treats you can't wait to finish to see what happens, but hate for it to end because it's that good.

The "unlikely" hero of this novel is Alfred Vicary, a history professor recruited by old friend Winston Churchill to work on the Double Cross System and "control" all the German agents who've been turned against the Fatherland.

Unfortunately, Germany has a sleeper agent in London, Catherine Blake, a ruthless spy just waiting for the opportune moment to strike. She soon gets her chance when her handlers, the Abwehr, want information on the specific location of the Allies' attack on France.

In the classic race against time, Vicary has to uncover who this woman is, how she operates, who her contact is in England, and how he can stop her.

Even though we all know the outcome of the Normandy Invasion and that the secrets surrounding it were a success, you can't help but feel panicky that Catherine Blake will somehow get that information to Hitler and his cronies and thus alter the outcome of the war. Yes, Silva is that good at tension, pacing, and characterization.

Vicary's character is unusual for heroes. He's not the suave, debonair, young man who gets the ladies and the bad guys at the end. Instead, he's a deeply reflective, middle-aged gentleman more used to the hallowed halls of the university than the spy chasing game. But the ravages of war, the late nights, the lack of sleep, the stress, the tough decisions, and the moral conundrums all create a man at odds with his present world, yet so deeply entrenched in this world that he has nearly lost site of the man he once was.

An excellent, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable thriller.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

Because so many gave their lives for us...

Because so many continue to put their lives at risk...

We are a nation of freedom.

God bless America!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project: Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive!

Hard to believe the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II is coming up in August. To commemorate that day now and forever, a grassroots campaign has started to make August 14 a national day of remembrance for the legacy of the men and women of World War II.

Here's some more info from the website:

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive! is a national grassroots campaign to mobilize communities across the country to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II on August 14 by establishing a permanent annual day of remembrance to honor the legacy of the men and women of America's "greatest generation.

The goal of this nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative to inspire a renewed sense of community and national unity in our country by establishing a day when America will stop to reflect on the achievements of the men and women who endured the Great Depression, preserved freedom and democracy in the most devastating war in history, and then went on to rebuild their shattered world. Their example of courage, self sacrifice, and commitment to community can inspire a renewed sense of national unity at a time when our country must once again come together to meet common challenges.

You can be part of this important national campaign by:

Urging your elected officials to issue proclamations and write letters of support for the creation of a National Day of Remembrance that will be observed on the second Sunday of every August (Click here to read the text of Concurrent Resolution 226 and learn more about how to contact your representatives).

Organizing activities and events in your community on Saturday, August 14, 2010 to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the day World War II ended.

Help collect the stories of people who remember the day they learned that World War II was over, and help them put them up on this web site so that they can be shared with future generations as a reminder of a time when America came together as a community.

Want to learn more? Check out their website!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Hitler's Rockets: The Story of the V-2s

When I was asked to review this book, Hitler's Rockets: The Story of the V-2s by Norman Longmate, I admit,I didn't know much about the subject. But what an eye-opening subject it is.

Before the war even began, Hitler's top military scientists developed the V-2 rockets. They reached speeds of more than 5,000 feet per second and could strike a target 200 miles away with alarming accuracy. They were five stories tall. And from 1944 to 1945, they killed more than 3,000 innocent British civilians and injured twice that many.

It was a weapon that the world had imagined, but had hoped would never exist. Yet it terrorized the people of Great Britain and sent that country's intelligence officers scrambling for information on how to understand it - and stop it. Unfortunately, it also created panic within the government itself, resulting in massive government censorship of the V-2s attacks on British soil.

Through extensive research involving eye-witness accounts, testimonies of German engineers, and archived records, Longmate presents a chilling narrative of a little-known part of World War II history. Period photographs and an impressive bibliography make this a fascinating read, and a long-overdue account of this revolutionary - and deadly - weapon.

Full disclosure to satisfy Big Brother: This book was sent to me to review. I am not making any money off of this review, but did receive the book free of charge.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Madonnas of Leningrad

It's not often an author so powerfully brings together the beauty of art with the tragedy of war, but Debra Dean does just that in her national bestselling novel, The Madonnas of Leningrad.

Traveling back and forth between the present time and to the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, this novel focuses on Marina, a docent at the Hermitage museum in Leningrad during the war, and later, an elderly wife and mother living in America who suffers from Alzheimer's.

During the book's war years, we see Marina as a young woman whose fascination and deep love of the art on display at the Hermitage literally keeps her alive on the darkest days of the siege. When the book opens, Marina and other employees of the museum are packing up museum treasures to ship them out, thereby keeping them safe from the approaching Nazi war machine. They pack up the paintings themselves, but leave the frames hanging in their original spot. Marina determines to commit each painting to memory so that she has a "memory palace" of where each painting goes so that if they paintings themselves are lost, the memory of them will not be.

During the siege, Marina and others go through an incredibly harsh existence. Here Dean does not shirk from describing the reality of that tragic time. Food is scarce and the chilling, bitter temperatures of Russia's winter claim thousands upon thousands of lives. Marina struggles to survive along with the rest of her countrymen, and constantly improves on her "memory palace." Dean's poetic, almost lyrical language in describing each painting brings the artwork to life. You yourself will "see" it in your mind's eye just as surely as did Marina.

In the present time, Marina suffers from Alzheimer's and feels her recent memories begin to shatter. Yet the memories of Leningrad and of her time at the Hermitage are crystal clear.

This is a fascinating book not only for its vivid portrayal of Leningrad during the siege, but also for its brilliance in portraying memory as one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. It's an imaginative work, and one that will stay with you long after the last page is turned

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On

It's always fun to see something from World War II become popular again. In this case, it's the British propaganda poster, "Keep Calm and Carry On."
While wandering in my local Barnes and Noble, I found a bunch of merchandise with this slogan. They had journals, notepads, desk notes, gift bags, and more. I think it's a fitting slogan for these times of economic misery, one we need to keep in mind.

can find merchandise via Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. For those of you overseas, check out this site.

So...keep calm and carry on!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Washington Goes to War

It's rare to find a book that is well-written, accurate, and as charming as David Brinkley's Washington Goes to War. The famous journalist's dry wit and incredible prose captures the very essence of D.C. during World War II.

From politicians and society lovers to military blunders and presidential snarkiness, Brinkley delivers a compelling look at the workings of our nation's capital and tells stories that are often overshadowed by the war itself.

The portrait that emerges from Brinkley's brush strokes is nothing short of amazing. D.C. was not prepared for the massive influx of workers into the city - particularly the "government girls" who worked for the new agencies that cropped up sometimes literally overnight - and the shortage of living space and working space proposed a problem for nearly the entire war. The ineptness of government agencies is evident even then and reading about the political and personality clashes makes one realize that not much changes.

Above all, this story shows how D.C. went from a sleepy Southern town to a busy, lively, humming city and how it has stayed that way ever since. It's a fascinating look at yet another aspect of World War II, and reveals how a war that reached across the world was organized from one of the most unorganized cities in the United States.