A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II

This book is a wonderfully well-written book by authors Lynne Olson and Stanely Cloud. For cursory readers of WW2 history, the narrative of the German conquest of Poland immediately after the 'phony war' was one where the mighty German war machine steamrolled over Poland. Polishcavalryy making brave but ultimately useless charges against tanks. The polish airforce wiped from the skyp by the Luftwaffe in a matter of days. 
Read more: A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II

Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation by Charles Glass

Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation by Charles Glass. So I really wanted to like this book, and it started well. Here's the official description of the book "Americans in Paris recounts tales of adventure, intrigue, passion, deceit, and survival under the brutal Nazi occupation through the eyes of the Americans who lived through it all".  There lies the problem, this book is a collection of stories of Americans that happen to be living in Paris at the time, there's really no cohesive story to tell here. Especially when in some chapters, the background story before Nazi occupation is 95% of the material. If you happen to find that person's life interesting, great, if not (and for a number of featured Americans, I personally did not), then its a dull read. For example, Sylvia Beach, a left bank book seller's life is recounted in detail here - almost none of it having anything do with living under the Nazis. If you find American literary expat of the 1930's fascinating, you will be enthralled. So all in all, not a bad book, but unfortunately the official description is a bit misleading.

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So Sad to Fall in Battle: An Account of War Based on General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi

So Sad to Fall in Battle: An Account of War Based on General Tadamichi Kuribayashi's Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi. The battle of Iwo Jima, from the Japanese commander's perspective. More importantly, not only does it cover the 'at all cost' strategy of the defense of the island, it gives the modern reader insight on the Japanese military system and militarized society. How does a man like Kuribayashi who was opposed to the war with the US not only led part of the war, but was willing to die for it. What type of society and culture creates such seemingly contradicting philosphy on its people. From the brutal treatment of the common Japanese solider and in turn their dehumanization of the enemy, to the officer's sense of honor wihch binds their lives to their country - right or wrong. It's a fascinating read.

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The Longest Day - Cornelius Ryan

As cliché as it sounds - if you only read only one book on D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, this is it. The book was written in the 1950's, where Mr Ryan interviewed planners and survivors of the battle, on all both sides. Included are also stories of the French people living in Normandy. Dividing the book into three sections "The Waiting", "The Day", and "The Night", he weaves the overall grand strategic plan among the generals with the intimate stories of the men and women who experienced the battle first hand. It is those smaller stories that really bring the invasion to life for the reader. You know how it ends, but you still can't wait to see what happens next. There has been numerous books about D-Day since this was published in 1959, while each adds to our understanding of that event, none has surpassed it as a single volume narrative both in accuracy, perspective, and prose.

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Sharks over China: The 23rd Fighter Group in World War II - Carl Molesworth

After the famed "Flying TIgers" aka American Volunteers Group was disbanded by the US Army Air Force, they were replaced by the 23rd FIghter Group. Many former members of the AVG transitioned to the new 23rd FG, while many did not - but that's another story. Mr Molesworth has done much extensive research into the air war over China, an often negiected area in WWII studies. While personal correspondence and interviews are interspersed through the book, the book's structure is basically a day by day recounting of the missions. In terms of narrative, that is the biggest shortcomings of the book, those descriptions often become dry and repetitive. If you are looking for a fantastic reference book on the 23rd FIghter Group, this is it. If on the other hand you are looking for an interesting read, this may be tough going for all but those with intense interest in the China Air War during WWII - like I am.

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