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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.

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The Extreme Right in the French Resistance

Members of the Cagoule and Corvignolles in the Second World War

by Valerie Deacon

In the aftermath of World War II, historical accounts and public commentaries enshrined the French Resistance as an apolitical, unified movement committed to upholding human rights, equality, and republican values during the dark period of German occupation. Valerie Deacon complicates that conventional view by uncovering extreme-right participants in the Resistance, specifically those who engaged in conspiratorial, anti-republican, and quasi-fascist activities in the 1930s, but later devoted themselves to freeing the country from Nazi control. The Extreme Right in the French Resistance highlights the complexities of the French Resistance, what it meant to be a resister, and how the experiences of the extreme right proved incompatible with the postwar resistance narrative.

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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.

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A Few Planes for China

The Birth of the Flying Tigers

Eugenie Buchan

On December 7, 1941, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into armed conflict with Japan. In the following months, the Japanese seemed unbeatable as they seized American, British, and European territory across the Pacific: the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Dutch East Indies. Nonetheless, in those dark days, the US press began to pick up reports about a group of American mercenaries who were bringing down enemy planes over Burma and western China. The pilots quickly became known as Flying Tigers, and a legend was born. But who were these flyers for hire and how did they wind up in the British colony of Burma?

The standard version of events is that in 1940 Colonel Claire Chennault went to Washington and convinced the Roosevelt administration to establish, fund, and equip covert air squadrons that could attack the Japanese in China and possibly bomb Tokyo even before a declaration of war existed between the United States and Japan. That was hardly the case: although present at its creation, Chennault did not create the American Volunteer Group. In A Few Planes for China, Eugenie Buchan draws on wide-ranging new sources to overturn seventy years of received wisdom about the genesis of the Flying Tigers. This strange experiment in airpower was accidental rather than intentional; haphazard decisions and changing threat perceptions shaped its organization and deprived it of resources. In the end it was the British—more than any American in or out of government—who got the Tigers off the ground. On the eve of Pearl Harbor, the most important man behind the Flying Tigers was not Claire Chennault but Winston Churchill.

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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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The Fightin' Texas Aggie Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor

John A. Adams

By any measure, the battles of Bataan and Corregidor were among the most intensely fought and devastating episodes in the World War II Pacific theater. Beginning in early 1942, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines in an attempt to control the Pacific region and expand its sphere of influence. The defense and last stand of Filipino and American allied forces marked the largest surrender in their respective military histories. Their efforts slowed the Japanese advance but only at great cost.

John A. Adams Jr. provides a new and compelling exploration of these pivotal events by recounting the history of Bataan and Corregidor through the eyes of 89 soldiers and officers who were former students and citizen soldiers from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. All were products of the Corps of Cadets, and indeed no other institution could boast of such a large deployment in the opening of the war.

While many words have been written on Bataan and Corregidor, none have taken the approach of collective biography as The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor does here. As a result, this book is not only a new contribution to the history of World War II but also stands to be a landmark publication on the history of Texas A&M University.

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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 Fighting Sullivans

How Hollywood and the Military Make Heroes

A study in mythmaking, The Fighting Sullivans offers a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacture of heroes in wartime America in the twentieth century.

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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. 

 

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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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