Second World War

The Last Hours in Paris

The Last Hours in Paris

Author: Ruth Druart Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/07/2022

This thoughtfully handled story of love, in all its guises, sits on two timelines creating questions and answers as you travel between and the 1940’s and 1960’s. When Elise meets German soldier Sebastian in Paris towards the end of the Second World War, they begin a love that simply can not be tolerated by those around them. Ruth Druart’s debut While Paris Slept was also set within the same field of conflict, yet this has a very different feel. While simply told and handled with gentle generosity and compassion, you shouldn’t expect light and airy as it also squeezes thoughts and feelings in a vice-like grip. Secrets and lies twisted and changed shape as they extended into the future creating contradictory feelings as I read. The sections from the war have a haunting intensity, and clearly affect the later time frame. As the ending settled around me and I read the Author’s Note I heaved an emotional yet satisfied sigh. Dwelling in sadness yet expressing hope, The Last Hours in Paris is a compelling tale and sits as a Liz Pick of the Month.

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Shadow of War

The Shadow of War

Author: Jack Murray Format: Paperback Release Date: 23/06/2022

Little Gloston, a postcard perfect village in Lincolnshire, England. Danny Shaw has little time for school but lots of time for stealing apples from farmers' orchards and hanging out with his friends. It's 1933 and life is simple for him, even if his parents seem worried when they listen to the radio. His father Stan, the strongest man in the village, had fought in the Great War, and he carries the scars and fear of battle with him daily. Ladenburg, Germany, 1933. Manfred Brehme is not living an easy life. His father is very strict and his mother always seems sad. Something is happening in Germany. One night the Reichstag burns down, and then a new group comes along that interests Manfred, the Hitler Youth. His father does not want him to join, but his father, the chief of police, is losing power daily. War is brewing, and life will soon change forever for Danny and Manfred, who both become soldiers fighting against each other, and for very different reasons.

Kino and Kinder

Kino and Kinder

Author: Vivien Sieber Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/02/2022

Paula Sieber, born in 1889 into the affluent merchant class, lived a privileged life. An entrepeneuse in the dazzling society of Vienna, she prospered until the terrible events caused by the Nazi annexation of Austria overtook her and her Jewish family. Paula's granddaughter, Vivien, has researched her family's history with the forensic skills of her scientific background. She has produced a history both detailed and accessible, which hums with glamour and fear, movement and concealment, travel to a strange country, and the slow realisation of the Nazi's final solution. This book spans a period of great changes in Europe and tells a story that is both compelling and enlightening. It is an excellent book choice for young and old and carries a warning that we must never forget.

Loving the Enemy

Loving the Enemy

Author: Andrew March Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/10/2021

‘Loving the Enemy - building bridges in a time of war’ by Andrew March is a compelling read. The book has a wide scope, following Fred Clayton, the author’s grandfather, from his early life right through to his death. Written in a past-tense narrative style, the story follows Clayton through university, his time spent living in Germany before WWII, his time serving in the Forces and beyond. It seemed to me that this book is formed of two parts. The first follows Fred’s life and University career, his motivations for going to Germany to forge a connection with the German people which lingers throughout the war, and his work at Bletchley park and then in India. The second section of this book comes after the war, as Fred Clayton works to re-establish the connections he made in Germany, locate old acquaintances and the early stages of his relationship with his wife, Rike. I felt that this story in its entirety worked to demonstrate the connection between people. When we look at history we consider entire countries and events on a macro level, and I found that this book successfully managed to maintain a more microscopic perspective, delivering a touching story of human connection. Dotted with diary entries, letters and photographs from his grandparents, I think that the author delivers a captivating historical narrative. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
Splinter on the Tide

Splinter on the Tide

Author: Phillip Parotti Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/07/2021

There is a great deal to commend this engaging account of a WWII sailor’s life. For those who are fans of punctilious attention to naval and nautical detail, there is plenty here. For anyone who enjoys a sense of the era, the use of language in the dialogue and prose, and the descriptions of the food and clothing of 1940’s East Coast USA are spot on.  Fitting somewhere between a ‘how to’ guide and personal log, Splinter on the Tide gives an enlightening overview of the personal, personnel and service politics that determine a small vessel’s safety and success. Through the particularly well drawn character of Lt. (j.g.) Ashford Miller, USNR, the responsibilities, morality and attention to detail required for command are illustrated with both an endearing lightness and depth of understanding. While the tension is delivered in calm, understated measures, partially due to Parotti’s multi-conditional prose style and emphasis on small-business scene settings, the narrative zips along and truly engages, in the manner of a light, less “clipped accent” version of the 1942 British patriotic war film In Which We Serve. What prevents this from being a humdrum military tale is the crisp sense of verisimilitude, coupled with a delightfully tender, wistful timbre. It is at heart a respectful and honourable rendering of the countless heroes, whose brave and diligent duty protected the convoys of merchant shipping that were the traffic of much needed supplies during those bleak and dangerous years.  Many publications in this area glamorise the dynamic and the duty. Splinter on the Tide has no need to do so, its quiet, unpretentious tone does trick very nicely indeed.

The Commandos: Set Europe Ablaze

The Commandos: Set Europe Ablaze

Author: Dick Camp Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/07/2021

Richard Camp served as a US Marine officer for 26 years before retiring in 1988. After retiring, he became the Deputy Director of the Marine Corps' History Division and then Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's VP for Museum Operations at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He is an accomplished historian with over 150 published articles and 14 books to his name covering military subjects from WWII through to more recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Commandos is Camp’s first venture into fiction. The author’s detailed knowledge of US Marine Corps history, procedure and language combined with meticulous research combine to create a highly authentic story set in the early part of WWII where a small group of Marines are posted to train with the newly created British commando forces. As their training draws near to completion, the team is notified of an urgent mission to test their newly acquired skills. They must destroy a radar facility on the German-held of Alderney off the coast of France. This is a novel for all enthusiasts of military fiction. As with all such books, if they are a good enough read, the reader is drawn into the story through the medium of fiction and then, as the story progresses you find yourself learning about the people, their training methods, the procedures and all manner of other fascinating aspects pertinent to the time. A really excellent book. Good characters, a great story and a fascinating insight into the lives of our first special-forces soldiers.

The Pathfinders

The Pathfinders

Author: Will Iredale Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/07/2021

From the opening pages describing the BBC outside broadcast recording of a nightingale singing in cellist Beatrice Harrison’s garden in Surrey as bombers pass overhead en route to Germany, Iredale makes it clear that he has done the work and is truly engaged with and passionate about his subject. From every small detail that he includes - the bombers mentioned above were heading for Mannheim and the BBC broadcast was cancelled for fear that it would warn the Nazis of their arrival – it is clear that Iredales’s aim is to honour and record the bravery of the Pathfinders as much as to give a clear account of their formation, training, equipment and role in making Bomber Command an effective force in restricting Nazi Germany’s industrial war output. Any book on the subject of wartime bombing runs the risk of glorifying destruction and disrespecting the dead. Iredale avoids this by taking great pains to treat the subject with compassion and objectivity. He features accounts of those who were on the ground on both sides as bombs landed, treating the stories of both with empathy and without judgment, while not shying away from hard truths. The stories of those who formed the units, and those who supported them, together with excellent attention to detail regarding military, technical and aviation facts and history, are drawn together through Iredale’s gift for compelling narrative which weaves tales of love and fear, bravery and failure through every chapter. With great intelligence, dignity and grace, The Pathfinders, gives voices to the voiceless. It is a worthy and admirable testament to the 20,000 from across the Commonwealth who signed up to carry out duties that many of us today would consider utterly unimaginable. The LoveReading LitFest invited Will Iredale to the festival to talk about The Pathfinders. The digitally native, all year round, online literature and books festival, with new content released every week is a free-for-all-users festival.   What are you waiting for? Check out a preview of the event and sign up to become a member.   

Dutch Girl

Dutch Girl

Author: Robert Matzen Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Thoughtfully, in fact beautifully handled, this is an absolutely fascinating look at the early life of Audrey Hepburn as she lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Ask me to name my favourite Movie Stars and Audrey Hepburn would appear. I have watched her films and read biographies detailing her life, she made a difference both with her art and her humanitarian work. This book takes you to the time before she became a movie star, a time that has previously been invented and misinterpreted in accounts. In Dutch Girl, the detailed historical explanation of the Second World War flows over and around Audrey, allowing you to see just why and how she became the woman so much admired around the world. The foreword by Audrey’s son Luca Dotti actually tells you everything you need to know about this biography, he thanks author Robert Matzen, calling the book a true gift. The preface tells you a little about the meticulous research carried out for Dutch Girl, Robert Matzen says that his investigation took many twists and turns and also provided surprising answers. He has located quotes from Audrey about the Second World War, has included new interviews, and used archives to form a detailed, compelling account. The photos are fascinating and act as a visual support to what is already a vivid biography. Entering this book enables you to touch history, to feel the effects of the war as it would have affected Audrey. If you’re just looking for glitz and glamour you most certainly won’t find it here. Dutch Girl is the most compassionate and wise book, it takes you beyond and behind the image of the Hollywood star, to what lay beneath.   

Star Books
Aftermath

Aftermath

Author: Harald Jähner Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/06/2021

Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be. How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos? In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare - tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust. Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Featuring black and white photographs and posters from post-war Germany - some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking - Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed - all at the same time.

No Moon as Witness

No Moon as Witness

Author: James Stejskal Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/05/2021

Working alone or in small cells, sometimes with local resistance groups, SOE and OSS agents bravely undertook missions behind enemy lines involving sabotage, subversion, organising resistance groups and intelligence-gathering.Notable successes included the destruction of a power station in France, the assassination of Himmler’s deputy and ending the Nazi atomic bomb program by destroying the heavy water plant at Vemork, Norway.  The life expectancy of an SOE wireless operator in occupied France was just six weeks.In No Moon as Witness, former Special-Forces soldier turned historian, James Stejskal, examines why these agencies were established, their training regimes and the ingenious inventions developed to enable agents to undertake their missions. There are a lot of books published about the SOE and OSS – many of them very thorough and detailed.  No Moon as Witness  is a more concise, more easily readable but nevertheless thorough account that benefits from the author’s particular knowledge and background as he applies his personal analysis to this important part of our military history. An excellent read.

Neither Settler nor Native

Neither Settler nor Native

Author: Mahmood Mamdani Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/11/2020

British Academy Book Prize shortlist Making the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism, this book calls us to rethink political violence and reimagine political community beyond majorities and minorities. In this genealogy of political modernity, Mahmood Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe-from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan-the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority. The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe's nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence. Neither Settler nor Native offers a vision for arresting this historical process. Mamdani rejects the criminal solution attempted at Nuremberg, which held individual perpetrators responsible without questioning Nazism as a political project and thus the violence of the nation-state itself. Instead, political violence demands political solutions: not criminal justice for perpetrators but a rethinking of the political community for all survivors-victims, perpetrators, bystanders, beneficiaries-based on common residence and the commitment to build a common future without the permanent political identities of settler and native. Mamdani points to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as an unfinished project, seeking a state without a nation.

Valkyrie

Valkyrie

Author: Hans Bernd Gisevius Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/12/2008

When on July 20, 1944, a bomb,boldly placed inside Hitler's headquarters by Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg, exploded without killing the Fuhrer, the subsequent coup d'etat against the Third Reich collapsed. The conspirators were summarily shot or condemned in show trials and sadistically hanged. One of the few survivors of the conspiracy was Hans Bernd Gisevius, who had used his positions in the Gestapo and the Abwehr (military intelligence) to further the anti-Nazi plot. Valkyrie , an abridgment of Gisevius's classic insider's account To the Bitter End , is an intimate memoir as riveting as it is exceptional.