Friday, May 27, 2011

Five best books on the Second World War

Richard Snow, the former editor of American Heritage magazine, is the author, most recently, of A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named five essential books on World War II, including:
The Duel
by John Lukacs (1990)

The formidably productive Hungarian-born historian John Lukacs has published several fine books about World War II, but "The Duel" might be his most gripping. It is richly written, relatively short and full of suspense even though we know how the story ends. It opens on May 10, 1940, with the French army dissolving before the German onslaught and Winston Churchill just made prime minister. "We do not know what Hitler thought of the news from London when he retired for the night," writes Lukacs, but "it seems that he did not yet wholly comprehend how, beneath and beyond the great war of armies and navies and entire peoples that he had now started in Western Europe, he would be involved in something like a hand-to-hand duel with Churchill." For a little while, the fate of the world depended upon which of two leaders better understood the other. Hitler was usually a shrewd assessor of his opponents, but he underestimated this one, and although the 80-day span Lukacs illuminates is the merest antechamber to the terrible years that lie ahead, by the end of it Churchill has won and, with him, Western civilization.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue