True stories of love and loss during WWII, from the tough Northern women who kept the foundry fires burning.
When war broke out, the young women of Sheffield had their carefree lives turned upside down. With their sweethearts being sent away to fight, they had no choice but to step into the men’s shoes and become the backbone of the city’s steel industry. Through hard toil and companionship, they vowed to keep the foundry fires burning and ensured that soldiers had the weapons, planes and ships needed to secure victory over Hitler.
When the men returned from the front in 1945, many of these women tragically found themselves discarded ‘like yesterday’s fish and chip wrappers’. But decades later, a grassroots campaign spearheaded by the elderly Women of Steel finally brought their remarkable story to light.
Women of Steel is the last chance to hear these unsung heroines’ voices, as they share first-hand how a group of plucky young women rallied together to win the war for Britain.
The Lost Voices of our ‘Forgotten Army’ in the war with Japan 1941-45.
Nearly a million strong by 1944, the British 14th Army fought and ultimately conquered the Japanese forces that invaded Burma and strove to break through into India. But the victory was hard won, with great suffering along the way. With priority given to defeating Germany, these troops were last in line for additional men and equipment, and they joked about being “The Forgotten Army.” Here is the story of these remarkable soldiers, whose monument at Kohima reads: ‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’
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
The perfect follow-up for readers of Dunkirk, Hidden Britain, Finest Hour and other gripping, personal accounts of life during the Second World War.
In late summer 1940, Hitler told his army to prepare to invade England. The nation waited, breathless with tension, for the Nazi threat to become real.
Acclaimed author Midge Gillies gathers together the personal accounts of those who still remember this time, with written sources from contemporary press reports, to diaries and letters, to illustrate and recreate the fear, suspense and even excitement of living in England in the shadow of the Nazis. A pair of sisters, determined that life should go on as normally as possible, carry on swimming and playing tennis – only to find themselves under suspicion of being sympathisers because of their seemingly carefree attitude. A group of former poachers and gamekeepers huddle in a woodland hideout, newly trained and prepared to blow up bridges and slit German throats. Citizens hide their most treasured possessions from the Nazis in biscuit tins, or bury them in graveyards.
Over the weekend of September 7th, the code word for high alert flashed round the country, and with tensions at their height many assumed it to mean that the Nazis had already landed. Sunday September 8th was declared a National Day of Prayer – and seemed to many to be the beginning of the end.
This is a compelling and evocative account of what it was like, for that short period in 1940, to be waiting for Hitler.
Understand the Second World War will show you how one of the most important events in history developed, charting the main military campaigns and examining the path to Allied victory and its impact on the countries involved. Full of anecdotes and details which provide a personal appeal it serves as an accessible introduction to one of the most important, tragic and costly events in history.
NOT GOT MUCH TIME?
One, five and ten-minute introductions to key principles to get you started.
Lots of instant help with common problems and quick tips for success, based on the author’s many years of experience.
EXTEND YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Extra online articles to give you a richer understanding.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Quick refreshers to help you remember the key facts.
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.
In February 1943, German forces surrendered to the Red Army at Stalingrad and the tide of war turned. By May 1945 Soviet soldiers had stormed Berlin and brought down Hitler’s regime.
Total War follows the fortunes of these fighters as they liberated Russia and the Ukraine from the Nazi invader and fought their way into the heart of the Reich. It reveals the horrors they experienced – the Holocaust, genocide and the mass murder of Soviet POWs – and shows the Red Army, brutalized by war, taking its terrible revenge on the German civilian population. For the first time Russian veterans are candid about the terrible atrocities their own army committed. But they also describe their struggle to raise themselves from the abyss of hatred. Their war against the Nazis – which in large part brought the Second World War in Europe to an end – is a tarnished but deeply moving story of sacrifice and redemption.
In war-torn Warsaw, a zookeeper and his wife refuse to surrender…
Now a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain and Daniel Brühl, Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife is based on a remarkable true story of bravery and sanctuary during World War II. Perfect for fans of Lion and Hidden Figures.
‘I can’t imagine a better story or storyteller. The Zookeeper’s Wife will touch every nerve you have’ -Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated
When Germany invades Poland, Luftwaffe bombers devastate Warsaw and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals killed, or stolen away to Berlin, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski begin smuggling Jews into the empty cages.
As the war escalates Jan becomes increasingly involved in the anti-Nazi resistance. Ammunition is buried in the elephant enclosure and explosives stored in the animal hospital. Plans are prepared for what will become the Warsaw uprising. Through the ever-present fear of discovery, Antonina must keep her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and animal inhabitants – otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes – as Europe crumbles around them.
Written with the narrative drive and emotional punch of a novel, The Zookeeper’s Wife is a remarkable true story. It shows us the human and personal impact of war – of life in the Warsaw Ghetto, of fighting in the anti-Nazi resistance. But more than anything it is a story of decency and sacrifice triumphing over terror and oppression.
What readers are saying about The Zookeeper’s Wife:
‘Beautifully and sensitively written – a must read‘
‘An adventure that inspires‘
‘Both horrifying and endearing on a scale I’ve not experienced in years‘
‘A story that will haunt you forever‘
‘Haunting, life affirming, sad, and inspiring‘
Longlisted for the 2020 William Hill Sports Book of the Year
‘A gripping history’ THE ECONOMIST
‘The World Beneath Their Feet contains plenty of rollicking stories’ THE TIMES
‘Gripping’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘So far as adventure stories go, this book is tops.’ Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump
‘[Ellsworth] recasts the era as a great Himalayan race…[and] it works brilliantly…his account of the 1953 ascent of Everest…feels unusually fresh’ THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘Like if Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air met Lauren Hillenbrand’s Unbroken … an inviting and engrossing read’ SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
One of the most compelling international dramas of the 20th century and an unforgettable saga of survival, technological innovation, and breathtaking human physical achievement-all set against the backdrop of a world headed toward war.
While tension steadily rose between European powers in the 1930s, a different kind of battle was raging across the Himalayas. Contingents from Great Britain, Nazi Germany, and the United States had set up rival camps at the base of the mountains, all hoping to become recognized as the fastest, strongest, and bravest climbers in the world.
Carried on across nearly the entire sweep of the Himalayas, this contest involved not only the greatest mountain climbers of the era, but statesmen and millionaires, world-class athletes and bona fide eccentrics, scientists and generals, obscure villagers and national heroes.
Centered in the 1930s, with one brief, shining postwar coda, the contest was a struggle between hidebound traditionalists and unknown innovators, one that featured new techniques and equipment, unbelievable courage and physical achievement, and unparalleled valor. And death. One Himalayan peak alone, Nanga Parbat in Kashmir, claimed twenty-five lives in less than three years.
Climbing the Himalayas was the Greatest Generation’s moonshot–one shrouded in the onset of war, interrupted by it, and then fully accomplished. A gritty, fascinating history that promises to enrapture fans of Hampton Side, Jon Krakauer, and Laura Hillenbrand, The World Beneath Their Feet brings this forgotten story back to life.
‘An epic tale of love, dishonour, bravery, cowardice, betrayal and high-treason. Beautifully written. A stunning debut’ Damien Lewis
Playboy. Fascist. Strongman. Thief.
John Amery is a drunk and a fanatic, an exiled playboy whose frail body is riven by contradictions. Harold Cole is a cynical, murderous conman who desperately wants to be seen as an officer and a gentleman. Eric Pleasants is an iron-willed former wrestler; he is also a pacifist, and will not be forced into fighting other men’s battles. William Joyce can weave spells when he talks, but his true gifts are for rage and hate.
By the end of the Second World War, they will all have betrayed their country. The Traitors is the story of how they came to do so. Drawing on declassified MI5 files, it is a book about chaotic lives in turbulent times; idealism twisted out of shape; of torn consciences and abandoned loyalties; and the tragic consequences that treachery brings in its wake.
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.
World War II sent the youth of the world across the globe in odd alliances against each other. Never before had a conflict been fought simultaneously in so many diverse landscapes on premises that often seemed unrelated. Never before had a conflict been fought in so many different ways – from rocket attacks on London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya. It was only in time that these battles coalesced into one war.
In The Second World Wars, esteemed military historian Victor Davis Hanson examines how and why this happened, focusing in detail on how the war was fought in the air, at sea, and on land-and thus where, when, and why the Allies won. Throughout, Hanson also situates World War II squarely within the history of war in the West over the past 2,500 years. In profound ways, World War II was unique: the most lethal event in human history, with 50 million dead, the vast majority of them civilians. But, as Hanson demonstrates, the war’s origins were not entirely novel; it was reformulations of ancient ideas of racial and cultural superiority that fueled the global bloodbath.