Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week Two
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Week 2: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert
This week we're sharing about a topic we're expert on, want to be expert on, or hope to get expertise from others on. I thought long and hard about what I might be expert in when it comes to reading, and I've decided it will be a long time before I consider myself an expert in anything! (Maybe I'm an expert in dabbling?) But I have always had a love of the World War II era. So this week I'm sharing how I'm becoming an expert in WWII. I'm sharing the books I've read, the book I'm reading, and the books I want to read focusing on this war.
First, what I've read...
I read Prague Winter hoping to understand the Jewish side of the European front in WW2. Written by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the book explores her family's decision to hide their Jewishness as well as giving a history of Czechoslovakia.

Unbroken is destined to become a classic in World War II literature. Telling the story of one remarkable POW in the Pacific theatre, the book explores not only the brutal treatment of American POWs in Japanese hands, but also the resilience of the human spirit.

Bomb is the story of the making of the atomic bomb and its use to end World War II. It's written for the YA audience, but it does not dumb down either the science or intellectual struggle surrounding the bomb's creation or use.

Plus, spies!

Killing Patton is the fourth in Bill O'Reilly and Martin Duggard's "Killing..." series. Here, they investigate the death of General George Patton and point to evidence that the accident that killed him was likely no accident at all. This book deals more with the battles of WWII and the personalities (Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc.) than the others on my list. I learned a lot about the war in this book.

What I'm reading now...

The Monuments Men, now made into a motion picture, discusses the efforts of a handful of men (and one woman) who are tasked with the recovery of the world's great works of art, either lost in war or confiscated by Hitler.

What I'm planning to read in the future...

I'm very interested in reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time. Dealing with President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor, this promises to be a comprehensive look at the Roosevelt family and World War II on the home front.

I also plan to read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts about American ambassador to Hitler's Germany, William E. Dodd.

Do you have any favorite World War II books? Please share.



  1. In my Nonfiction November post yesterday on oral histories I mention Studs Terkel's "The Good War"--I think this would be a great addition to the wonderful books already on your list!

    1. Oh yes, I'll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I have a fascination with Winston Churchill, an amazing man. I would suggest either The Last Lion boy William Manchester or Winston's War by Max Hastings.
    The Mascot by Mark Kurzem is about a man who researched his father's boyhood as a Nazi mascot:
    And if you've never read it, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is a fantastic story of courage and faith:

    1. Thank you for these wonderful recommendations! I'll be sure to check them out.

      I was almost afraid someone would suggest The Last Lion. :) I really want to read the trilogy--Churchill fascinates me--but I don't know if I have the patience for 3,000 pages on one man!

  3. The family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal gives an unusual and personal perspective on the era, and is beautifully written as well. Unbroken needs to go on my list, I can tell.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion. I know the title, but I didn't know what it was about. I'll check it out.

      Unbroken is phenomenal, although it is an emotionally difficult read. The end, though, makes reading through the horrific POW years worth it. It has just been released (11/11) in a YA version, too, which I plan to read.

  4. Great list! I just finished Unbroken and it was so good, a very inspiring story. Now I'm listening to In the Garden of Beasts by audio book. I didn't know Madeleine Albright wrote fiction.

    1. Sounds like you and I are on the same track with our reading.

      Albright has written at least three nonfiction books. One about her years as Secretary of State, one about her pin collection, and Prague Winter. There may be others, too. Prague Winter was kind of a dense read, and not very personal, but it gave a nice perspective of the Slavic side of WW2.