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September 14th, 2008, 10:49 PM
I'm currently reading The Separation by Christopher Priest, and like most historical fiction it makes me realise how poor my historical knowledge is. So, in order to overcome this shortcoming, can anyone recommend any good books describing the events of World War 2, with a focus on the politics rather than the battles?
I'd also be interested in recommendations for biographies of Winston Churchill.

Thanks in advance.

July 19th, 2009, 11:35 PM
Last lion is a great biography

Fall of the 3rd Reich
Band of Brothers
Greatest Generation (collection of eyewitness accounts from famous people whe were in it) written by Tom Brokaw

August 27th, 2009, 10:02 PM
How about the 5 volume history of WWII by Churchill? I have them but have not read them. I have read his History of English Speaking People though and found it interesting.

August 27th, 2009, 10:07 PM
Also: I have read Collapse of the Third Republic and The Rising Sun and would recommend them.

November 19th, 2009, 10:45 AM
How about the 5 volume history of WWII by Churchill? I have them but have not read them. I have read his History of English Speaking People though and found it interesting.

Well worth reading, keeping in mind that this is Churchill's account of it--which means you're getting the view of a highly intelligent, experienced, powerful politician who wants his view to survive. Churchill's writing is outstanding (my opinion, anyway) and good experience for anyone who ever hopes to write to swim in that ocean for awhile...but he can lure you past shoals of history you don't discover until later.

If you're doing to read Churchill on WWII, by all means read the earlier books he wrote when he himself was a young officer (often in trouble, by the way) and war correspondent. Some have been re-issued, somewhat abridged (grrr!) and are politically relevant to this moment--for instance, The Malakand Field Force (a campaign in what is now the Pakistan/Afghan border regions, and The River War in Africa. His ability to convey both the political background and the military actions is remarkable.

Window Bar
November 19th, 2009, 07:03 PM
E Moon has nailed it. Churchill was probably the most intelligent statesman of his time. The history as presented makes no claim to third-party objectivity, still, it has the ring of truth. It is self-serving in that his sense of the toxicity of German society at that time was eventually proven accurate...and as the one of the few statesmen who took Germany seriously, he earned the right to have the last word.

Yet what an irony that a man who believed so deeply (I didn't say "rightly," I said "deeply") in the Empire was destined to preside over its wane.

The World War II histories I've read twice, though I can't say I really consider myself a Churchill buff. But I know good dramatic storytelling when I see it. Remember Tolkien's statement that he distrusts allegory; he much prefers history, real or feigned? Churchill's WW-II books are similar, in that I could say that I distrust history; I much prefer great literature, real or feigned.

Reading them in order (especially as we know the bittersweet ending that awaits the Empire) the entire set is a voyage into drama of the first water. He draws upon primary source materials, and he quotes them extensively. The documents, letters, and speeches pull us into the moment and speak for themselves. The reader viscerally feels (rather than intellectually comprehends) the slow slide into tragedy.

Remember: Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize.

In literature.

-- WB