This is a list of books we have used for research and/or read. For the books we have covered, we use the standard description of the book then we give the book a rating and review if we have covered it extensively.
The rating system and review from the Historical Society are of our own opinions. We do not endorse any particular author unless stated.
Iron Cross Rating System:
- 5 Crosses – Excellent
- 4 Crosses – Good
- 3 Crosses – Average
- 2 Crosses – Poor
- 1 Cross – Terrible – Do Not Read
Album of the Damned: Snapshots From the Third Reich
by Paul Garson
The nearly 400 WWII photographs in this book were taken primarily by German soldiers; some by civilians; some by professionals embedded with the troops.
Consequently, many of them depict everyday life: jobs, weddings, dinners, musical and other social events—men and women at work and play as well as at war, a war that nearly consumed Europe.
The author acquired these photographs from some fifteen countries during a five-year research effort, reviewing more than 100,000 images from which he made his selection. He bid in auctions against museums and private collectors to create a WWII photo history unlike perhaps any other.
This book deserves one Iron Cross. I will give it 2 due to many people reading WW2 material never have seen pictures such as these from the personal collections of average German soldiers. But this book is all about trashing the reputation of the average German soldier and police officer. This book mostly features pictures of German Heer (Army) and the Ordnungspolizei (Unifomed Police) in their daily routines. No pictures of the SS camp guards or Einsatzgruppen SS units which did most of the killing of Jews, etc. Of course the Army and Waffen-SS did some killing initially on the Eastern Front, but large protests from German generals to Hitler made this come to an end. The Einsatzgruppen SS units did their dirty work once all the Wehrmacht units have moved on to the front lines.
The author will caption the pictures with awful titles (not all titles) then with mistaken and at times demeaning descriptions in which he does admit to this being only his opinion. From Cradle to Grave showing a picture of a baby wearing his dads officers cap, Trained for Pain, Calf Killers, Heartless Hunters showing a picture of German Army motorcyclists, Murder Practice, The Murder at the Desk showing Germans working in an office, etc. The pictures will show the ordinary soldiers life at play while not in combat, and the soldiers will be demeaned. Every 2-3 pages then he has a reading section that constantly reminds us of the Holocaust so the reader with consider every German soldier as being guilty. This is typical, pro-Jewish, pro-Holocaust guilter material to demean every German citizen of the Third Reich. This book has taken on good reviews from the Rolling Stone, New York Times, Publishers Weekly, etc. This trash would never sell or be welcomed to good reviews in Germany.
Recounts the incredible six-week sweep by the Germans through Holland, Belgium, and France in the spring of 1940, illustrated with photographs and maps of the various battles.
Very nicely written book and well laid out with complete, detailed information on the campaign.
Blitzkrieg: The Unpublished Photographs 1939-1942
by Ian Baxter
A collection of photos from the early war years covering the German Wehrmacht. The book is full of mistakes in the captions. Please beware and don’t confuse the mistaken facts. As of late, many of the books on the subject are coming from modern authors of the last 10-15 years. In the last 12 books I have covered and read this year (July- 2018), five are from British authors and full of mistakes. Not sure what is happening in Britain, but they need to get the facts better.
Eastern Front: The Unpublished Photographs 1941-1945
by Will Fowler
After securing the rights to this amazing Ukrainian state photo archive, the author traveled to Kiev with a translator, a bodyguard and several thousand used American dollar bills, the negotiated cost for the collection. According to Fowler, the risk of carrying that kind of cash – or 15 years’ salary to the average Kiev worker – through a city with a staggering crime rate was well worth it. This photographic record of the war on the Eastern Front is composed entirely of imagery taken and captioned by Red Army photographers. None of the images have previously been seen in the West. The result, which offers the perspectives of Soviet soldiers, as well as those of ordinary men, women and children, is a visually stunning account covering every aspect of one of history’s bloodiest chapters and the epic battles waged in Stalingrad, Kursk, Kharkov, and Leningrad. Almost 30 million people died during the course of the four years of conflict during World War II. In the aftermath, the whole of Poland, European Russia, and Germany lay in ruins as a result of the fighting.
3 Iron Crosses only for this book due to the amount of Russian photos versus German photos. It is overwhelmingly a book for the Russian photo collector versus the German. Beyond that there is nothing to special about the information. Good for Eastern Front and some WW II readers.
German Insignia of World War II
by Chris Bishop and Adam Warner
Illustrated with hundreds of color and black and white photographs, this book is the definitive guide to the symbols, both military and civilian, of the the Third Reich, which served to inspire Germany’s war effort in World War II.
Only 3 Iron Crosses for this book since it was a very misleading title. German Insignia should be changed to Third Reich or Nazi German Insignia of WW2. This book features tons of material on the Nazi insignia, but barely touches anything on the Wehrmacht. Unfortunately like most picture books it is a poor for reference use since it does not cover every piece of insignia. More for the novice or average WW2 reader. It does have some good points with colorful, wonderful pictures and nice amount of information.
German World War II Reenacting: The Wehrmacht in Living History
by Scott Lee Thompson
This book takes the reader through a full-color look at reenactment of the German military of WWII. Dedicated reenactors have gone to amazing lengths to recreate the Wehrmacht in action. Original tanks and half tracks take to the field once more, alongside uniformed German soldiers. Everything from tanks to machine guns to can openers and cooking utensils is put to use to recreate not only authentic battles but also the more mundane aspects of wartime life, such as vehicle and weapons maintenance, sleeping, cooking, and trying to survive. The author has selected photos from WWII reenactments around the world, where reenectors have spent enormous amounts of time and money. Panzers thunder through the fields once more, planes of the Luftwaffe strike from the sky, and the German fighting men and women once more are thrown into an amazing array of scenarios.
Excellent book showing the re-enactors in many different scenes with everything from horses to panzers.
Germany 1945: From War to Peace
by Richard Bessel
1945 was the most pivotal year in Germany’s modern history. As World War II drew to a devastating and violent close, the German people were confronted simultaneously with making sense of the horrors just passed and finding the strength and hope to move forward and rebuild. Richard Bessel offers a provocative portrait of Germany’s emergence from catastrophe, and he astutely portrays the defeated nation’s own sense of victimhood after the war, despite the crimes it had perpetrated. Authoritative and dramatic, Germany 1945 is groundbreaking history that brilliantly explores the destruction and remarkable rebirth of Germany at the end of World War II. Ultimately, it is a success story; a story of life after death.
An Excellent book on telling Germany’s story after the war. It is well written and covers the worst of times for the German populace and Fatherland. It does covers the atrocities and rapes committed by the Allied occupation armies. This makes the book a hard to digest read in those chapters, but it is a story seldom told since the victors have written the history of World War II. The book does lack pictures to give the reader sights of the war torn country after the war.
Im Westen nichts Neues – All Quiet on the Western Front
All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers’ extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.
The novel was first published in November and December 1928 in the German newspaper Vossische Zeitung and in book form in late January 1929. The book and its sequel, The Road Back, were among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany. It sold 2.5 million copies in 22 languages in its first eighteen months in print.
In 1930, the book was adapted as an Oscar-winning film of the same name, directed by Lewis Milestone.
Images of War Series
Blitzkrieg in the West
by Ian Baxter
This superbly illustrated book captures the dramatic action of May and June 1940. The speed and ferocity of the German onslaught took the Allies by surprise as Hitler’s land and air forces annihilated the inferior opposition. After 9 months stalemate the collapse was cataclysmic and Holland and Belgium quickly fell leaving the British and French forces outflanked and outfought. Panic set in and huge numbers of civilian refugees clogged the roads making the Allies’ withdrawal even more precarious.
The miracle of Dunkirk saved vast numbers of British and French forces but could not prevent the surrender of France, leaving Britain to fight on virtually alone. The splendid photographs in this Images of War series book tell the story of this extraordinary period of history. They include previously unseen images of Rommel’s Ghost Division.
by Jon Sutherland, Diane Canwell
These photographs are taken from three unpublished albums featuring the German invasion of Poland in 1939. One set was taken by an SS officer, another by a regular officer and a third by a soldier attached to a medical unit. Included are German units on the move, tanks, artillery and aircraft.
There are several shots of recently knocked out Polish vehicles, captured Polish troops and civilians. The shots reflect the rapid pace of the German advance through Poland, some of the cities, towns and villages show signs of heavy fighting, whilst others appear to be untouched. One of the sets show a German unit mounted in fast open cars, heavily armed, speeding through the Polish countryside. Another features armored vehicles and engineers, while another shows the ambulance teams moving up to the front through devastation and chaos.
There are also numerous opportunities throughout the book to see uniforms in their various guises and how they were actually worn in practice. There are shots of earlier German armor, “antique“ Polish armor, and photographs of German troops at rest and preparing to move forward again.
German Halftracks At War 1939-1945
by Paul Thomas
In the aftermath of The Great War, which saw the introduction of the tank, the more far sighted military leaders realized that the future of warfare hinged on a balance of mobility, firepower and protection.
Tanks would need to be accompanied into battle by supporting arms, specifically infantry, artillery and engineers. An all fully-tracked field army was thought to be too expensive, so the semi-tracked support vehicle (commonly called a halftrack) was born. The halftrack concept was embraced by the French, the US and most notably Germany.
The Germans commissioned numerous types of half-tracked tractors, which were classified by the weight of their towed load. These vehicles were designated Sonderkraffarzeug (special motorized vehicle), abbreviated as Sd.Kfz. Without these vehicles the Blitzkrieg would not have been possible.
These front-wheel steering vehicles with tracked drive transformed the fighting quality of the armored divisions. They carried the infantry alongside the advancing panzers and brought guns and pontoon-bridge sections. The halftrack also became the preferred reconnaissance vehicle.
The Rise of Hitler
by Trevor Salisbury
A Nazi propaganda book found in the ruins of a bomb-damaged German home in 1945 and recovered as a souvenir by a British soldier. It forms the basis for this photographic account of Hitlers’ early days as he gains acceptance and eventually took over the hearts and minds of the German people.
The Images of War series are excellent books with many unknown photos from history. In some books, they only have photos from certain units so the title can be misleading since they do not cover the entire battle or period of time on that front. Either way this is an excellent series and very well priced.
Hitler’s Army: The Men, Machines, and Organization: 1939-1945
Hitler’s Army describes and analyzes every significant aspect of Germany’s WWII ground forces including their creation, organization, weapons, equipment, training and tactics. This book also considers its conduct in battle and its strengths and weaknesses. Hitler’s Army is an essential reference, a balanced and indispensable aid for those wishing to understand how the vaunted, apparently unbeatable German army that went to war in 1939 just over five years later was consigned to total military defeat and the ignominy of unconditional surrender.
An excellent book covering the German Heer. Enough information to use it as as reference book on covering the army. Lots of details.
Hitler’s Last Days: The Death of the Nazi Regime and the World’s Most Notorious Dictator
by Bill O’Reilly
By early 1945, the destruction of the German Nazi State seems certain. The Allied forces, led by American generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, are gaining control of Europe, leaving German leaders scrambling. Facing defeat, Adolf Hitler flees to a secret bunker with his new wife, Eva Braun, and his beloved dog, Blondi. It is there that all three would meet their end, thus ending the Third Reich and one of the darkest chapters of history.
Hitler’s Last Days is a gripping account of the death of one of the most reviled villains of the 20th century―a man whose regime of murder and terror haunts the world even today. Adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s historical thriller Killing Patton, this book will have young readers―and grown-ups too―hooked on history.
A simple, easy to read book. It does a nice job covering the last days of the war, but lacks extensive coverage of Hitler’s last days in which the title states.
Hitler: Military Commander
The Strategies that Destroyed Germany
by Rupert Matthews
Examines Hitler’s key military decisions during the Second World War, and assesses how far these decisions were militarily justified in light of the intelligence available at the time. The book gives fascinating insights into Hitler’s relationships with his generals, and how opinion of the Fuhrer’s grasp of military strategy was shaped by the effect of his personality.
Very light read for the novice WW2 reader so only 3 Iron Crosses for this book. This book barely touches the subject of Hitler’s decisions. It is more a history of the Third Reich book with the addition of Hitler’s decisions which lack any substance in detail or depth of the decisions. This is not a book for the higher/professional historian, but still a nice read. Unfortunately I did not learn anything new which I normally learn at least one thing so I am disapointed.
Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich
Among the military leaders of the Second World War, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz remains a deeply enigmatic figure. As chief of the German submarine fleet he earned Allied respect as a formidable enemy. But after he succeeded Hitler — to whom he was unquestioningly loyal — as head of the Third Reich, his name became associated with all that was most hated in the Nazi regime.
Yet Doenitz deserves credit for ending the war quickly while trying to save his compatriots in the East — his Dunkirk-style operation across the Baltic rescued up to 2 million troops and civilian refugees.
Historian Barry Turner argues that while Doenitz can never be dissociated from the evil done under the Third Reich, his contribution to the war must be acknowledged in its entirety in order to properly understand the conflict.
An even-handed portrait of Nazi Germany’s last leader and a compellingly readable account of the culmination of the war in Europe, Karl Doenitz and the Last Days of the Third Reich gives a fascinating new perspective on a complex man at the heart of this crucial period in history.
An easy read and enjoyable. It was nice to read on Operation Hannibal since little is covered on it. We were hoping for an extensive book on Karl Doenitz during the last days of the Reich in which the book fails. This book should be named ‘ The last days of the Third Reich and Karl Doenitz.’
Race to the Rhine: Liberating France and the Low Countries 1944-45
The speed of the German Blitzkrieg in 1940 and the relative ease with which they brushed aside Allied defenses meant four years of occupation. But in June 1944—this time with American forces—the Allies finally returned for a rematch. The destruction of German forces in Normandy’s Falaise pocket, on August 14,was as quick as the Blitzkrieg had been: by September British troops were in Ghent and Liege; Canadian forces liberated Ostend, and in northeast France Patton’s Third Army was moving rapidly to the German border, taking Rheims on August 29 and Verdun on the 30th. Paris was liberated on August 25th.
The liberation of the Low Countries would not prove as straightforward, however. Operation Market Garden—Montgomery’s brave thrust toward the Rhine at Arnhem—started on September 17 and hoped to end German resistance at a stroke. But it ended in failure on the 25th with over 6,000 paratroopers captured.
V-1 flying bombs had meantime been launched from northern France and the Low Countries from August 1944. During September the more frightening German V-2s began raining in. In late October, belated operations began to clear the Scheldt Estuary and open the port of Antwerp to the Allies, and took nearly a month. Belgium was almost free of the Nazi yoke and the Netherlands looked likely to be cleared before Christmas.
Then, on December 16, came Hitler’s last roll of the dice: a major German counter-offensive in the Ardennes aiming to split the Allied armies and retake Antwerp. It turned out to be their last try: the American defenders held, and finally with better weather, Patton’s army and Allied air superiority told. With the Germans having shot their last bolt, in the spring the Rhine was gained.
Race to the Rhine, a companion volume to The Normandy Battlefields, links modern aerial photography with contemporary illustrations to provide a modern interpretation of the battles, replete with maps, diagrams and photos. It is now 70 years since Western Europe was freed from its occupation, and this book provides a graphic view of how it was accomplished. For those interested in visiting the sites, it supplies a guide to the places that best represent the battles today.
The SS: Hitler’s Instrument of Terror: The Full Story from Street Fighters to the Waffen-SS
The SS: Hitler’s Instrument of Terroris an authoritative account of Hitler’s private army. Every aspect of the SS is examined in full: its units and their battles, the foreign legions, the various non-military departments, and the key figures who led formations in the field and oversaw internal affairs within Nazi Germany, such as Heinrich Himmler, ‘Sepp’ Dietrich and Kurt Meyer. In addition, the questions of atrocities committed against prisoners and civilians, and the SS’s role in the concentration camp system, are addressed in full.
Tiger Tank Manual: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger 1 Ausf.E (SdKfz 181)
by David Fletcher
The German Tiger I was the most feared battle tank of the Second World War. Its invincibility lay in its main gun and heavy defensive armour. Using the successful Haynes Manual format, the Tiger Tank Manual gives an insight into acquiring, owning and operating one of these awesome fighting vehicles. The Tank Museum’s Tiger `131′ forms the centrepiece of this manual, which includes full photographic coverage of the strip-down of `131′ and its engine. Vivid personal recollections describe what it was like to command a Tiger in war.
An excellent book on the Tiger 1 which includes much information on the Bovington Tiger 131 which was used to create the book. It is not just a technical manual since Haynes books are normally, but the book gives history of the Bovington Tiger with excellent pictures and drawings.
World War II
An overview of one of the world’s darkest times, as told by the people who lived through it, and some of whom who did not. Photographs and maps demonstrate many of the actions that took place during this horrifying war.
A nice book with great photos. This is a book more geared for the novice history reader.