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History > Military History > World War II

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Results 61-70 of 217

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Escape from Hitler's Europe Cover

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Escape from Hitler's Europe

An American Airman behind Enemy Lines

George Watt

"A hell of an adventure story." -- Ring Lardner Jr. "A story of what is best in human beings triumphing over what is worst." -- John Sayles November 1943: American flyer George Watt parachutes out of his burning warplane and lands in rural Nazi-occupied Belgium. Escape from Hitler's Europe is the incredible story of his getaway -- how brave villagers spirited him to Brussels to connect with the Comet Line, a rescue arm of the Belgian resistance. This was a gravely dangerous mission, especially for a Jewish soldier who had fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Watt recounts dodging the Gestapo, entering Paris via the underground, and finally, crossing the treacherous Pyrenees into Spain. In 1985, he returned to Belgium and discovered an astonishing postscript to his wartime experiences.

Every Day a Nightmare Cover

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Every Day a Nightmare

American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 1941-1942

William H. Bartsch; Foreword by Anthony Weller

In December 1941, the War Department sent two transports and a freighter carrying 103 P-40 fighters and their pilots to the Philipines to bolster Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Far East Air Force. They were then diverted to Australia, with new orders to ferry the P-40s to the Philippines from Australia through the Dutch East Indies. But on the same day as the second transport reached its destination on January 12, 1942, the first of the key refueling stops in the East Indies fell to rapidly advancing Japanese forces, resulting in a break in their ferry route and another change in their orders.   This time the pilots would fly their aircraft to Java to participate in the desperate Allied defense of that ultimate Japanese objective. Except for the pilots from the Philippines, almost all of the other pilots eventually assigned to the five provisional pursuit squadrons ordered to Java were recent graduates of flying school with just a few hours on the P-40. Only forty-three of them made it to their assigned destination; the rest suffered accidents in Australia, were shot down over Bali and Darwin, or were lost in the sinking of the USS Langley as it carried thirty-two of them to Java. Even those who did reach the secret field on Java wondered if they had been sacrificed for no purpose. As the Japanese air assault intensified daily, the Allied defense collapsed. Only eleven Japanese aircraft fell to the P-40s.   Author William H. Bartsch has pored through personal diaries and memoirs of the participants, cross-checking these primary sources against Japanese aerial combat records of the period and supplementing them with official records and other American, Dutch, and Australian accounts. Bartsch’s thorough and meticulous research yields a narrative that situates the Java pursuit pilots’ experiences within the context of the overall strategic situation in the early days of the Pacific theater.  

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"Execute against Japan"

The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

By Joel Ira Holwitt

Less than five hours after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, U.S. naval leaders reluctantly chose to pursue a form of warfare they despised—targeting not only Japanese military assets but also civilian-operated fishing trawlers, freighters, and tankers. The move to unrestricted submarine warfare represented a major change in the longstanding American adherence to the classic doctrine of "freedom of the seas," under which commercial vessels were held to have the right to navigate the oceans without threat of attack. This dramatic about-face in naval policy, potentially as controversial as the decision to use the atomic bomb, has never been seriously challenged and, until now, closely examined. Holwitt combed archival sources from the National Archives, the Naval Historical Center, the Naval War College, Yale University, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in order to reconstruct the development of both the U.S. submarine fleet and the policies for its use during World War II. As he shows in this meticulously researched book, the U.S. move to launch unrestricted air and submarine warfare against Japan was illegal. "Execute Against Japan" offers a new understanding of U.S. military policy during World War II. This thoughtful analysis will be a vital resource for military and maritime historians and professionals, as well as students of World War II.

Fetch the Devil Cover

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Fetch the Devil

The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America

Clint Richmond

In 1938, Hazel Frome, the wife of a powerful executive at Atlas Powder Company, a San Francisco explosives manufacturer, set out on a cross-country motor trip with her twenty-three-year-old daughter, Nancy. When their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, they made the most of being stranded by staying at a posh hotel and crossing the border to Juarez for shopping, dining, and drinking. A week later, their near-nude bodies were found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Though they had been seen on occasion with two mystery men, there were no clues as to why they had apparently been abducted, tortured for days, and shot execution style.

El Paso sheriff Chris Fox, a lawman right out of central casting, engaged in a turf war with the Texas Rangers and local officials that hampered the investigation. But the victims’ detours had placed them in the path of a Nazi spy ring operating from the West Coast to Latin America through a deep-cover portal at El Paso. The sleeper cell was run by spymasters at the German consulate in San Francisco. In 1938, only the inner circle of the Roosevelt White House and a few FBI agents were aware of the extent to which German agents had infiltrated American industry.

Fetch the Devil is the first narrative account of this still officially unsolved case. Based on long forgotten archives and recently declassified FBI files, Richmond paints a convincing portrait of a sheriff’s dogged investigation into a baffling murder, the international spy ring that orchestrated it, and America on the brink of another world war.

Fighter Pilot Cover

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Fighter Pilot

The First American Ace of World War II

William R. Dunn

At the age of twelve, American William R. Dunn decided to become a fighter pilot. In 1939 he joined the Canadian Army and was soon transferred to the Royal Air Force. He was the first pilot in the famous Eagle Squadron of American volunteers to shoot down an enemy aircraft and later became the first American ace of the war. After joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, he saw action in the Normandy invasion and in Patton's sweep across France. Twenty years later he fought again in Vietnam. Dunn keenly conveys the fighter pilot's experience of war -- the tension of combat, the harsh grip of fear, the love of aircraft, the elation of victory, the boisterous comradeship and competition of the pilot brotherhood. Fighter Pilot is both a gripping story and a unique historical document.

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Fighting for Hope

African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America

Robert F. Jefferson

This fascinating history shows how African-American military men and women seized their dignity through barracks culture and community politics during and after World War II. Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to fight—and with the army taking great pains to regulate contact between black soldiers and local women—the division was largely relegated to support roles during the advance on the Philippines, seeing action only later in the war when U.S. officials found it unavoidable. Jefferson discusses racial policy within the War Department, examines the lives and morale of black GIs and their families, documents the debate over the deployment of black troops, and focuses on how the soldiers’ wartime experiences reshaped their perspectives on race and citizenship in America. He finds in these men and their families incredible resilience in the face of racism at war and at home and shows how their hopes for the future provided a blueprint for America’s postwar civil rights struggles. Integrating social history and civil rights movement studies, Fighting for Hope examines the ways in which political meaning and identity were reflected in the aspirations of these black GIs and their role in transforming the face of America.

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The Final Mission of Bottoms Up

A World War II Pilot's Story

Dennis R. Okerstrom

 
On November 18, 1944, the end of the war in Europe finally in sight, American copilot Lieutenant Lee Lamar struggled alongside pilot Randall Darden to keep Bottoms Up, their B-24J Liberator, in the air. They and their crew of eight young men had believed the intelligence officer who, at the predawn briefing at their base in southern Italy, had confided that their mission that day would be a milk run. But that twenty-first mission out of Italy would be their last.

 

            Bottoms Up was staggered by an antiaircraft shell that sent it plunging three miles earthward, the pilots recovering control at just 5,000 feet. With two engines out, they tried to make it to a tiny strip on a British-held island in the Adriatic Sea and in desperation threw out everything not essential to flight: machine guns, belts of ammunition, flak jackets. But over Pula, in what is now Croatia, they were once more hit by German fire, and the focus quickly became escaping the doomed bomber. Seemingly unable to extricate himself, Lamar all but surrendered to death before fortuitously bailing out. He was captured the next day and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner at a stalag on the Baltic Sea, suffering the deprivations of little food and heat in Europe’s coldest winter in a century. He never saw most of his crew again.

 

            Then, in 2006, more than sixty years after these life-changing experiences, Lamar received an email from Croatian archaeologist Luka Bekic, who had discovered the wreckage of Bottoms Up. A veteran of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Bekic felt compelled to find out the crew’s identities and fates. Lee Lamar, a boy from a hardscrabble farm in rural northwestern Missouri, had gone to college on the GI Bill, become a civil engineer, gotten married, and raised a family. Yet, for all the opportunity that stemmed from his wartime service, part of him was lost. The prohibition on asking prisoners of war their memories during the repatriation process prevented him from reconciling himself to the events of that November day. That changed when, nearly a year after being contacted by Bekic, Lamar visited the site, hoping to gain closure, and met the Croatian Partisans who had helped some members of his crew escape.

 

            In this absorbing, alternating account of World War II and its aftermath, Dennis R. Okerstrom chronicles, through Lee Lamar’s experiences, the Great Depression generation who went on to fight in the most expensive war in history. This is the story of the young men who flew Bottoms Up on her final mission, of Lamar’s trip back to the scene of his recurring nightmare, and of a remarkable convergence of international courage, perseverance, and friendship. 

 

Finish Forty and Home Cover

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Finish Forty and Home

The Untold World War II Story of B-24s in the Pacific

Phil Scearce

During the early years of World War II in the Pacific theatre, against overwhelming odds, young American airmen flew the longest and most perilous bombing missions of the war. They faced determined Japanese fighters without fighter escort, relentless anti-aircraft fire with no deviations from target, and thousands of miles of over-water flying with no alternative landing sites. Finish Forty and Home is the true story of the men and missions of the 11th Bombardment Group as it fought alone and unheralded in the South Central Pacific, while America had its eyes on the war in Europe. After bombing Nauru, the squadron moves on to bomb Wake Island, Tarawa, and finally Iwo Jima. These missions bring American forces closer and closer to the Japanese home islands and precede the critical American invasions of Tarawa and Iwo Jima. The 42nd Squadron’s losses through 1943 were staggering: 50 out of 110 airmen killed. “Finish Forty and Home is a treasure: poignant, thrilling, and illuminating.”—Laura Hillenbrand, best-selling author of Unbroken and Seabiscuit

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The Forgotten Generation

American Children and World War II

Lisa L. Ossian

 

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt addressed the nation by radio, saying, “We are all in it—all the way. Every single man, woman, and child is a partner in the most tremendous undertaking of our American history.” So began a continuing theme of the World War II years: the challenges of wartime would not be borne by adults alone. Men, women, and children would all be involved in the work of war.
The struggles endured by American civilians during the Second World War are well documented, but accounts of the war years have mostly deliberated on the grown-ups’ sacrifices. In The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II, Lisa L. Ossian explores the war’s full implications for the lives of children. In thematic chapters, the author delves into children’s experiences of family, school, play, work, and home, uncovering the range of effects the war had on youths of various ethnicities and backgrounds.
Since the larger U.S. culture so fervently supported the war effort, adults rarely sheltered children from the realities of the war and the trials of life on the home front. Children listened for news of battles over the radio, labored in munitions factories, and saved money for war bonds. They watched enlisted men—their fathers, uncles, and brothers—leave for duty and worried about the safety of soldiers overseas. They prayed during the D-Day invasion, mourned President Roosevelt’s death, and celebrated on V-J Day . . . all at an age when such sharp events are so difficult to understand. Ossian draws from a multitude of sources, including the writings of 1940s children, to demonstrate the great extent of these young people’s participation in the wartime culture.
World War II transformed a generation of youths as no other experience of the twentieth century would, but somehow the children at home during the war—compressed between the “Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers”—slipped into the margins of U.S. history. The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II remembers these children and their engagement in “the most tremendous undertaking” that the war effort came to be. By bringing the depth of those experiences to light, Ossian makes a compelling contribution to the literature on American childhood and the research on this remarkable period of U.S. history.

Forgotten Men and Fallen Women Cover

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Forgotten Men and Fallen Women

The Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives

by Holly Allen

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