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Battle of Surigao Strait Cover

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Battle of Surigao Strait

Anthony P. Tully

Surigao Strait in the Philippine Islands was the scene of a major battleship duel during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Because the battle was fought at night and had few survivors on the Japanese side, the events of that naval engagement have been passed down in garbled accounts. Anthony P. Tully pulls together all of the existing documentary material, including newly discovered accounts and a careful analysis of U.S. Navy action reports, to create a new and more detailed description of the action. In several respects, Tully's narrative differs radically from the received versions and represents an important historical corrective. Also included in the book are a number of previously unpublished photographs and charts that bring a fresh perspective to the battle.

The Battle over Peleliu Cover

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The Battle over Peleliu

Islander, Japanese, and American Memories of War

The expansionist Japanese empire annexed the inhabited archipelago of Palau in 1914. The airbase built on Peleliu Island became a target for attack by the United States in World War II. The Battle over Peleliu offers an ethnographic study of how Palau and Peleliu were transformed by warring great powers and further explores how their conflict is remembered differently by the three peoples who shared that experience.
 
Author Stephen C. Murray uses oral histories from Peleliu’s elders to reconstruct the island’s prewar way of life, offering a fascinating explanation of the role of land and place in island culture. To Palauans, history is conceived geographically, not chronologically. Land and landmarks are both the substance of history and the mnemonic triggers that recall the past. Murray then offers a detailed account of the 1944 US invasion against entrenched Japanese forces on Peleliu, a seventy-four-day campaign that razed villages, farms, ancestral cemeteries, beaches, and forests, and with them, many of the key nodes of memory and identity.
 
Murray also explores how Islanders’ memories of the battle as shattering their way of life differ radically from the ways Japanese and Americans remember the engagement in their histories, memoirs, fiction, monuments, and tours of Peleliu. Determination to retrieve the remains of 11,000 Japanese soldiers from the caves of Peleliu has driven high-profile civic groups from across the Japanese political spectrum to the island. Contemporary Japan continues to debate pacifist, right-wing apologist, and other interpretations of its aggression in Asia and the Pacific. These disputes are exported to Peleliu, and subtly frame how Japanese commemoration portrays the battle in stone and ritual. Americans, victors in the battle, return to the archipelago in far fewer numbers. For them, the conflict remains controversial but is most often submerged into the narrative of “the good war.”
 
The Battle over Peleliu is a study of public memory, and the ways three peoples swept up in conflict struggle to create a common understanding of the tragedy they share.

BattleFire! Cover

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BattleFire!

Combat Stories from World War II

Arthur L. Kelly

" Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941: High on the bridge of the USS West Virginia Sfc. Lee Ebner was looking forward to the end of his watch and a relaxed Sunday morning breakfast. But the two low-flying planes painted with rising sun insignia and bearing down on the ship had other plans for him and his fellow seamen. Ten hours later, at Clark Field in the Philippines, Pfc. Jack Reed felt the brunt of another Japanese air attack and within weeks found himself a part of the gruesome Bataan Death March that was to claim the lives of hundred of his comrades. On another continent, four years into the war, Capt. Benjamin Butler led his exhausted company up a steep, fog-shrouded Italian mountain toward a well entrenched German defensive position. The odds against their survival were appalling, though worse was to come in the months ahead. Such were the experiences of many young men-plucked from their local communities all across America, trained for war, and hurled into the strange reality of combat thousands of miles form home. In this stunning collection of World War II oral histories, Arthur Kelly recreates the experiences of twelve young men from Kentucky who survived the seemingly unsurvivable, whether in combat or as prisoners of war.

Beetle Cover

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Beetle

The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith

D.K.R. Crosswell

A valued adviser and trusted insider in the highest echelon of U.S. military and political leaders, General Walter Bedell Smith began his public service career of more than forty years at age sixteen, when he joined the Indiana National Guard. His bulldog tenacity earned him an opportunity to work with General George C. Marshall in 1941, playing an essential role in forming the offices of the Combined and Joint Chiefs of Staff; and after his appointment as chief of staff to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1942, Smith took a central part in planning and orchestrating the major Allied operations of World War II in Europe. Among his many duties, Smith negotiated and signed the surrenders of the Italian and German armed forces on May 7, 1945. Smith’s postwar career included service as the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and undersecretary of state. Despite his contributions to twentieth-century American military and diplomatic history, the life and work of Smith have largely gone unappreciated. In Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith, D. K. R. Crosswell offers the first full-length biography of the general, including insights into his close relationships with Marshall and Eisenhower. Meticulously researched and long overdue, Beetle sheds new light on Eisenhower as supreme commander and the campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and Europe. Beetle is the fascinating history of a soldier, diplomat, and intelligence chief who played a central role in many decisions that altered mid-twentieth-century American history.

Before The Bomb Cover

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Before The Bomb

How America Approached the End of the Pacific War

John Chappell

Almost forgotten in the haze of events that followed Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the summer of 1945 witnessed an intense public debate over how best to end the war against Japan. Weary of fighting, the American people were determined to defeat the imperial power that had so viciously attacked them in December 1941, but they were uncertain of the best means to accomplish this goal. Certain of victory -- the "inevitable triumph" promised by Franklin Roosevelt immediately after Pearl Harbor -- Americans became increasingly concerned about the human cost of defeating Japan.

Particularly after the brutal Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns, syndicated columnists, newspaper editorialists, radio commentators, and others questioned the necessity of invasion. A lengthy naval and aerial siege would have saved lives but might have protracted the war beyond the public's patience. Advertisers filled the media with visions of postwar affluence even as the government was exhorting its citizens to remain dedicated to the war effort. There was heated discussion as well about the morality of firebombing Japanese cities and of using poison gas and other agents of chemical warfare.

Chappell provides a balanced assessment of all these debates, grounding his observations in a wealth of primary sources. He also discusses the role of racism, the demand for unconditional surrender, and the government's reaction to public opinion in the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Compelling and controversial, this is the first work to examine the confusing and contradictory climate of the American home front in the months leading up to V-J Day.

Behind Japanese Lines Cover

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Behind Japanese Lines

An American Guerrilla in the Philippines

Ray C. Hunt and Bernard Norling

Behind Japanese Lines has a great deal to say about the relations with the Filipinos and about the problems of dealing with and fighting the Hukbalahaps, the communist guerrillas or, indeed, in opposing the Japanese. This book adds considerable insights into the significance of guerrilla warfare as it relates to modern warfare in general.

Berlin on the Brink Cover

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Berlin on the Brink

The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Early Cold War

Daniel F. Harrington

The Berlin blockade brought former allies to the brink of war. Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union defeated and began their occupation of Germany in 1945, and within a few years, the Soviets and their Western partners were jockeying for control of their former foe. Attempting to thwart the Allied powers' plans to create a unified West German government, the Soviets blocked rail and road access to the western sectors of Berlin in June 1948. With no other means of delivering food and supplies to the German people under their protection, the Allies organized the Berlin airlift.

In Berlin on the Brink: The Blockade, the Airlift, and the Cold War, Daniel F. Harrington examines the "Berlin question" from its origin in wartime plans for the occupation of Germany through the Paris Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in 1949. Harrington draws on previously untapped archival sources to challenge standard accounts of the postwar division of Germany, the origins of the blockade, the original purpose of the airlift, and the leadership of President Harry S. Truman. While thoroughly examining four-power diplomacy, Harrington demonstrates how the ingenuity and hard work of the people at the bottom -- pilots, mechanics, and Berliners -- were more vital to the airlift's success than decisions from the top. Harrington also explores the effects of the crisis on the 1948 presidential election and on debates about the custody and use of atomic weapons. Berlin on the Brink is a fresh, comprehensive analysis that reshapes our understanding of a critical event of cold war history.

Beyond Rosie Cover

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Beyond Rosie

A Documentary History of Women and World War II

More so than any war in history, World War II was a woman’s war. Women, motivated by patriotism, the opportunity for new experiences, and the desire to serve, participated widely in the global conflict. Within the Allied countries, women of all ages proved to be invaluable in the fight for victory. Rosie the Riveter became the most enduring image of women’s involvement in World War II. What Rosie represented, however, is only a small portion of a complex story. As wartime production workers, enlistees in auxiliary military units, members of voluntary organizations or resistance groups, wives and mothers on the home front, journalists, and USO performers, American women found ways to challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes.

Beyond Rosie offers readers an opportunity to see the numerous contributions they made to the fight against the Axis powers and how American women’s roles changed during the war. The primary documents (newspapers, propaganda posters, cartoons, excerpts from oral histories and memoirs, speeches, photographs, and editorials) collected here represent cultural, political, economic, and social perspectives on the diverse roles women played during World War II.

Beyond the Call of Duty Cover

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Beyond the Call of Duty

Army Flight Nursing in World War II

At the height of World War II, five hundred Army flight nurses served with the Army Air Forces as members of thirty-one medical air evacuation squadrons located throughout the world on both the European and Pacific fronts. Their work was not insignificant—over one million patients were evacuated by air between January 1943 and May 1945. These specially trained Army nurses took nursing to new heights. Often decorated for their accomplishments, they exemplify the ability of a group of nurses to cope successfully with the challenges of war.

In her comprehensive book, author Judith Barger brings together information that is becoming less accessible as the former nurses succumb to age, infirmity, and death. Barger interviewed twenty-five of these pioneering women in 1986 when their recall of their service experiences was still vivid and informative. Building on Barger’s earlier research, their stories and the numerous complementary photographs included in the volume bring to life this long overdue tribute to Army flight nursing in World War II.

Beyond the Call of Duty offers the only in-depth account of the events leading up to the formation of the military flight nurse program, their training for duty, and the air evacuation missions in which they participated. Readers of military history, women’s history, and nursing history will find all three interests represented in this book, which gives new meaning to a phrase in the Flight Nurse Creed of 1943: “I will be faithful to my training, and to the wisdom handed down to me by those who have gone before me.”

Binding Up the Wounds Cover

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Binding Up the Wounds

An American Soldier in Occupied Germany, 1945–1946

Leon C. Standifer

In his highly acclaimed Not in Vain, Leon C. Standifer recounted his experiences as a small-town Mississippi boy who at age nineteen found himself fighting as a combat infantryman in World War II France and Germany. Binding up the Wounds carries the story beyond V-E Day to describe what the author saw, heard, felt, and learned as a member of the American occupation army in the homeland of its defeated enemy.

Standifer, who served in the 94th Infantry Division in western Germany, the Sudetenland, and Bavaria in the first year of occupation, chronicles that unique and chaotic time from the viewpoint of a typical GI. Germany was an epic landscape of human need, and cities lay in ruins. But the war was over, light and laughter were once again possible, and, as Standifer recalls, “we had a ball during that first year.” Among the things he experienced or witnessed were black-market operations large and small (American cigarettes served as a universal currency, and a few ounces of mess-hall grease or used coffee grounds were valuable commodities); the spectacle of gung-ho officers attempting to turn combat troops into spit-and-polish paraders; the exploitive games played between American soldiers and German women; a gut-wrenching visit to a displaced persons camp; and the difficulties involved in guarding captured soldiers who were no longer the enemy.

Perhaps most revealing, and often surprising, are the attitudes Standifer discovered among ordinary Germans toward the war, the Nazis, the “Hitler times” in general–not only during the occupation, but also decades later when he revisited Germany and spoke with elderly survivors of those times. For there are really two voices telling the tale of Binding Up the Wounds. One is that of the combat-hardened but otherwise naive twenty-year-old who lived the experiences. The other is that of the author as retired college professor looking back over half a century and puzzling out what those experiences meant for himself, for America, and for humankind.

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