The stunning and decisive battle of Midway was perhaps the most crucial naval battle in the Pacific theater during World War II. Walter Lord explained away the US victory at Midway against a numerically superior and apparently more skilled Japanese fleet due to ‘Lady Luck.’ In The Silver Waterfall acclaimed historian Brendan Simms and historian and military veteran Steve McGregor show it was no such thing. Luck had little to do with it.
Instead the authors show how the forces of industrial dynamism and innovation were central to the US being able to win the war in the Pacific. Engineers, machinists, test pilots, and a willingness to experiment at scale were vital to the creation of the decisive element that would sink the hopes of Japan along with the pride of their aircraft carrier fleet: the Douglas Dauntless Dive Bomber dive bomber, whose vicious near vertical plummet from the sky to deliver a brutally accurate attack was the “silver waterfall” that the Japanese quickly came to dread. In a few deadly minutes they changed the course of the war in the Pacific.
Equally important, the Navy drew on the skills of a wide variety of immigrants or descendants of immigrants–especially those from Germany, the principal hostile power. The engineer who designed the plane which decided the Battle of Midway was Ed Heinemann, the strategist who decided America would defend Midway Island was Chester Nimitz; and the pilot who symbolized American performance on the day was Dusty Kleiss. Without these men, America could not have designed, planned, or done what was needed to win. The Silver Waterfall offers a revelatory new history of Midway, showing that if the Americans were lucky, they made their own luck.
‘All the violence I had exprierienced before felt like a bad dream. It was a paradise. I think most of the children felt it was a paradise.’
In 1933, the same year Hitler came to power, Anna Essinger voluntarily exiled her small, progressive school from Germany. Anna – a pioneering German-Jewish schoolteacher – had read Mein Kampf and knew the terrible danger that Hitler’s hate-fuelled ideologies posed to her pupils. And so she hatched a courageous and daring plan: to smuggle her school to the safety of England.
The school she established in Kent, Bunce Court, flourished despite the many challenges it faced, but the news from her home country continued to darken and Anna watched as Europe slid towards war, with devastating consequences for the Jewish children left behind in Germany and Nazi-occupied territories. Anna was compelled to head a rescue unit at a requisitioned Butlins camp, receiving the children from the horrific events that followed Kristallnacht. Anna would come to accept waves of increasingly traumatised children at Bunce Court — including those who had escaped the concentration camps and ghettos — offering them a safe haven and the love and security they needed to begin to rebuild their lives.
Featuring the moving first-hand testimony from surviving pupils, and drawn from letters, diaries and present-day interviews, The School That Escaped the Nazis is a dramatic human tale that offers a unique child’s-eye perspective on Kindertransport and the Holocaust. It is also the story of one woman’s refusal to allow her beliefs in a better world to be overtaken by hatred and violence.
From the sinking decks of a navy cruiser to the cockpit of a doomed B-25 bomber, Ronald J. Drez takes us to the front lines of World War II. Through Drez’s gripping narrative style, we meet twelve men, all ordinary soldiers, and learn what the war was like through their eyes, experiencing their own ‘twenty-five yards of war.’ The men in these pages represent all branches of the military who were sent on impossible missions, where they witnessed triumphs and tragedies. As a result of Drez’s ten years of research and over 1,400 interviews, Twenty-Five Yards of War is a tribute to all of the soldiers who fought in World War II — those who walked away with amazing stories to tell, and those who did not make it home.
The bombing of Hiroshima was one of the pivotal events of the twentieth century, yet this controversial question remains unresolved. At the time, General Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, and chief of staff Admiral William Leahy all agreed that an atomic attack on Japanese cities was unnecessary. All of them believed that Japan had already been beaten and that the war would soon end. Was the bomb dropped to end the war more quickly? Or did it herald the start of the Cold War? In his probing new study, prizewinning historian Ronald Takaki explores these factors and more. He considers the cultural context of race – the ways in which stereotypes of the Japanese influenced public opinion and policymakers – and also probes the human dimension. Relying on top secret military reports, diaries, and personal letters, Takaki relates international policies to the individuals involved: Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, Secretary of State James Byrnes, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and others… but above all, Harry Truman.
Escape from Paris is the true story of a small group of U.S. aviators whose four B-17 Flying Fortresses were shot down over German-occupied France on a single, fateful day: July 14, 1943, Bastille Day. They were rescued by brave French civilians and taken to Paris for eventual escape out of France. In the French capital, where German troops walked on every street and Gestapo agents hid around every corner, the flyers met a brave Parisian resistance family living and working in the Hôtel des Invalides, a complex of buildings and military memorials, where Nazi officials had set up offices. Hidden in the complex the Americans, along with dozens of other downed Allied pilots and resistance operatives, hatched daring escape plots. The danger of discovery by the Nazis grew every day, as did an unlikely romance when one of the American airmen begins a star-crossed wartime romance with the twenty-two-year old daughter of the family sheltering him-a noir tale of war, courage and desperation in the shadows of the City of Light.
Based on official American, French, and German documents, histories, personal memoirs, and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s key participants, Escape from Paris crosses the traditional lines of World War II history with tense drama of air combat over Europe, the intrigue of occupied Paris, and courageous American and Allied pilots and French resistance fighters pitted against Nazi thugs. All of this set in one of the world’s most beautiful and captivating cities.
‘Geeks triumph over the forces of darkness: nothing could have given me greater pleasure. Combining an exciting story with scrupulous research, Caroline Shenton has done her unlikely heroes proud’ – Lucy Worsley
As Hitler prepared to invade Poland during the sweltering summer of 1939, men and women from across London’s museums, galleries and archives formulated ingenious plans to send the nation’s highest prized objects to safety. Using stately homes, tube tunnels, slate mines, castles, prisons, stone quarries and even their own homes, a dedicated bunch of unlikely misfits packed up the nation’s greatest treasures and, in a race against time, dispatched them throughout the country on a series of top-secret wartime adventures.
National Treasures highlights a moment from our history when an unlikely coalition of mild-mannered civil servants, social oddballs and metropolitan aesthetes became the front line in the heritage war against Hitler. Caroline Shenton shares the interwoven lives of ordinary people who kept calm and carried on in the most extraordinary of circumstances in their efforts to save the Nation’s historic identity.
Army Girls is the intimate story of the final few women who served in World War II and are still alive to tell their tale. They were female soldiers in a war Britain wanted to fight without conscripting women. It was a vain hope, by December 1941 for the first time in British history women were called up and a generation of girls came of age in khaki, serving king and country. Barbara trained to drive army-style in giant trucks and Grace swapped her servant’s pinafore for battledress and a steel hat, Martha turned down officer status for action on a gun-site and Olivia won the Croix de Guerre in France.
Commemorating the 80th anniversary of conscription for women, Army Girls captures remarkable stories from the last surviving veterans who served in Britain’s female army and brings to life a pivotal moment in British history. Precious memories and letters are entwined in a rich narrative that travels back in time and sheds new light on being young, female and at war.
Uniquely this moving Second World War memoir is embedded in the present day. Written in the midst of a global pandemic, the parallels and paradoxes between two very different national crises are explored in a book that honours the women who fought on in extreme youth and now once more in great old age.
It is 1943, and a month into their service as Land Girls, Bee, Anne and Pauline are dispatched to a remote farm in rural Scotland. Here they are introduced to the realities of ‘lending a hand on the land’, as back-breaking work and inhospitable weather mean they struggle to keep their spirits high.
Soon one of the girls falters, and Bee and Pauline receive a new posting to a Northumberland dairy farm. Detailing their friendship, daily struggles and romantic intrigues with a lightness of touch, Barbara Whitton’s autobiographical novel paints a sometimes funny, sometimes bleak picture of time spent in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War.
“Tales from the home front are always more authentic when written from personal experience, as is the case here. Barbara Whitton evokes the highs and lows, joys and agonies of being a Land Girl in the Second World War.” — Julie Summers
“Witty, warm and hugely endearing, Barbara Whitton s Green Hands is full of engaging characters, burgeoning friendships and pure hard-graft. A lovely novel for anyone interested in wartime Britain, it leaves the reader with renewed admiration for the indefatigable work of the Women s Land Army.” –AJ Pearce
(P)2020 Headline Publishing Group Limited
In the summer of 1941, Harry Hopkins, Franklin Roosevelt’s trusted advisor, arrived in Moscow to assess whether the US should send aid to Russia as it had to Britain. And unofficially he was there to determine whether Josef Stalin — the man who had starved four million Ukrainians to death in the early 1930s, another million in the purges of the late 1930s, and a further million in the labor camps of the Gulag — was worth saving. Hopkins sensed that saving Stalin was going to be a treacherous business.
In this powerful narrative, author John Kelly chronicles the turbulent wartime relationship between Britain, America, and the Soviet Union with a unique focus on unknown and unexplored aspects of the story, including how Britain and America employed the promise of a second front in France to restrain Soviet territorial ambitions and how the Soviets, in their turn, used threats of a separate peace with Germany to extract concessions from the western allies. Kelly paints a vivid picture of how the war impacted the relationship between the leaders and war managers among the Allies. In Saving Stalin, for the first time, the war becomes a major character, co-equal with the book’s three other major characters: Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.
The First World War was the defining event of the last century. It claimed the lives of over 16 million people across the globe and had an enormous impact on all who experienced it. No nation in Europe was left untouched, and even neutral states felt its devastating impact.
Yet it was the ordinary men and women who were affected the most.
This gripping, revealing and poignant collection of stories tells the First World War from the perspective of those who were there, using letters, diaries and memoirs from Imperial War Museum’s unparalleled archives.
(P)2020 Headline Publishing Group Ltd
May 1944, the Royal Armoured Corps prepares for the invasion of north-west Europe. Young and conscientious, Michael Brook is quickly promoted to tank commander. He must overcome not only his own fear, but the dissent and doubts of his ever-changing crew, as the war takes them over the Rhine and into Germany. The men encounter both jubilant civilians and stiff enemy resistance as the conflict exacts a heavy toll.
Based on Peter Elstob’s own wartime experience, Warriors for the Working Day brilliantly evokes the particular ferocity, heat and terror of tank warfare. This new edition of a 1960 classic features a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds new light on the true events that so inspired its author.
‘If poetry was the supreme literary form of the First World War then, as if in riposte, in the Second World War, the English novel came of age. This wonderful series is an exemplary reminder of that fact.’ WILLIAM BOYD
‘Few other novels of the war describe the grinding claustrophobia, violence and lethal danger of being in a tank crew with the stark vividness of Peter Elstob… a forgotten classic that deserves to be read and read.’ JAMES HOLLAND
(P) 2020 Headline Publishing Group Ltd
‘Fascinating ‘ Elizabeth Day
‘Finally, a book that is proving very therapeutic in these difficult times… Full of doubt, fear, anger and rueful comedy, they give the lie to the idea that the Brits maintained a stiff upper lip, but it’s immensely consoling to know that our forebears sometimes thought that they were living through the end times but survived to enjoy better and brighter days.’ Jonathan Coe, The Times
‘With 34 million of us in Tier 3, these Mass Observation diaries have an added fascination: it’s impossible to read them without coming across parallels on almost every page, people’s characters revealing themselves under wartime restrictions just as they do under Covid ones.’ The Times
‘A great book – such a good read.’ Jeremy Vine
‘Brown’s book features an eclectic selection from the wartime years and is full of fascinating and sometimes surprising insights.’ Mail on Sunday
‘Moving and unexpectedly funny, it’s these words that may offer comfort.’ Woman’s Weekly
‘What extraordinary voices of Britain living through crisis! A brilliant testament to resilience.’ Anne Glenconner
‘A stirring and evocative account of life on the home front. Full of surprises that bring a fascinating perspective on the blitz spirit.’ – Deborah Cadbury, author of Chocolate Wars and Princes at War
Throughout the Second World War hundreds of people kept diaries of their private daily lives as part of a groundbreaking national experiment. They were warehousemen and WRENs, soldiers and farmhands, housewives and journalists, united only by a desire to record the history they were living through.
For decades their words have been held in the Mass-Observation Archive, a time capsule of ordinary voices that might otherwise have been forgotten. These voices tell the human story behind the iconic events of those six years, of the individuals grappling with a world turned upside down. From panic-buying and competitively digging for victory to extraordinary acts of bravery, Blitz Spirit is a remarkable collection of real wartime experiences that represent the best and worst of human nature in the face of adversity.
Resonant, darkly funny and deeply moving, this new collection will reveal what it was like to live through a crisis of unprecedented proportions. A cacophony of hope, cynicism and resilience, Blitz Spirit celebrates ordinary lives – however small – and shines a light on the people we were, and the people we are now.