GLOBAL HISTORY OF WWII

WINSTON CHURCHILLTHE SECOND WORLD WARPublished: 1953Number of pages: 4736This monumental work, a Nobel Prize winner, though written soon after the end of the War, is still relevant and gripping to read. It’s the only first-hand account among the great players of WWII, which provides insight into the diplomacy between the Allies. It is, of course, the history of the war mainly from the British perspective, which gives details to all related with England, lacking details in a wider sense of global warfare. WINSTON CHURCHILL: THE SECOND WORLD WAR
MAX HASTINGSALL HELL LET LOOSE: THE WORLD AT WAR 1939-1945Published: 2011Number of pages: 729The author masterfully balances the political, social, military-strategic topics on a grand scale and multiply of first-person stories, particularly people from above. It is worth noting, that Hastings does the historical narration often expressing his own evaluations of the events and historical figures, which, along with witnesses testimonies, turn the book into much more emotional reading, that some other cold-minded analogs.
ANTONY BEEVOR THE SECOND WORLD WAR Published: 2012Number of pages: 863Though lacking a gripping novelistic depth in a way similar to any single-volume WW2 history, it performs well with the overall picture. Throughout fifty chapters, the history goes almost chronologically, switching between the theaters of war, particularly giving enough detail to the War in the Pacific, Atlantic, Nothern Africa, and the Mediterranean, apart from the focus on mainland Europe. It is reasonable, that this is one of the best books by Beevor. ANTONY BEEVOR: THE SECOND WORLD WAR
ANDREW ROBERTSTHE STORM OF WAR: A NEW HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WARPublished: 2009Number of pages: 768Being a very readable one-volume book, Roberts’s work is a good choice for beginners in the topic. The author does good in using an extensive number of sources, including of his contemporaries, provides a lot of statistics and figures, suggests evaluations of the key historical characters. At the same time, it strongly relies on the predecessors and, in fact, has not so much ‘new history’ compared to what we have already known from other books. ANDREW ROBERTS: THE STORM OF WAR: A NEW HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH

WILLIAM SHIRERTHE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH Published: 1960Number of pages: 1280Six decades since its first edition, Shirer’s two-volume history is probably the best introducer into the history of the Third Reich and WWII. Though there are modern successors with profound access to archives and documents, this classic is very readable and involving, which can be compared to reading a novel. Apart from masterful work with the sources of his times, Shirer provides characterization and summing up to persons and events. WILLIAM SHIRER: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH
RICHARD EVANSTHIRD REICH TRILOGYPublished: 2009Number of pages: 2489Each of the three volumes takes its own periodic respectively, yet the whole trilogy is strictly logical and follows the same key points. Evans does an excellent job with all merits of war archives, first and second-hand sources, recollections. It is a less enjoyable, more academic read than Shirer’s work, yet Evans provides a profound analysis of the political, socio-cultural, military, religious issues. The basic advice is to make an interval between the three books.
 RICHARD EVANS: THIRD REICH TRILOGY
THOMAS CHILDERSTHE THIRD REICH: A HISTORY OF NAZI GERMANY
Published: 2017Number of pages: 651A representative of recent scholarly history, Childers’ book is a relatively small one-volume history. Yes, it lacks depth in the number of details, yet the book misses no important issues and covers well every conventional element regarding the Third Reich. Insights into Hitler’s biography and decision-making, the high-ranking nazi leaders, seizure of power and NSDAP structure, reshaping of the German society, the Holocaust, the war effort. thomas childers third reich
FRANK MCDONOUGHTHE HITLER YEARSPublished: 2020Number of pages: 1152Frank McDonough has been a less known, yet very respected and fruitful British historian of Nazi Germany since the late 90s. This recent two-volume work is not a comprehensive history of Hitler’s rise to power and reign as the narration begins on January 1, 1933, yet it covers the twelve years of Nazi Germany, the restructuring and mobilization of the society, the War. Every chapter goes with one year and its main events and personalities, chronologically. Similar to Shirer, it is a good choice for the newcomers.

BIOGRAPHIES OF ADOLF HITLER

ALAN BULLOCKHITLER: A STUDY IN TYRANNY Published: 1952Number of pages: 848Bullock’s work was a pathfinder and the first bestselling Hitler’s biography. Toward the revised 1962 edition it obtained all previously revealed documents and most of the post-war memoirs among German, gained a balanced view over Hitler, and is still very readable and authoritative in most issues, as the author strongly preferred documented facts rather than unreliable assumptions. The process of reading is entraining at a steady pace from the first chapters and through the second half devoted to WWII. ALAN BULLOCK: HITLER: A STUDY IN TYRANNY
JOACHIM FESTHITLERPublished: 1973Number of pages: 864An academic masterpiece and the first comprehensive reconsidering of Hitler’s personality in the socio-cultural context by a respected scholar. On the one hand, Fest summs up the bulk of facts about the dictator, which were accessible in the early 70s, though he followed some cliches. On the other, Fest gives a wider picture of Hitler as a phenomenon of German and European history in social, political, military, historical aspects, particularly in the opening volume one. JOACHIM FEST: HITLER
IAN KERSHAWHITLER: 1889-1945Published: 2000Number of pages: 2080Kershaw’s two-volume work is an established classic among the biographies and military history. The author did an amazing job of cross-examining the sources about Hitler, particularly the myths and yellow-page assumptions of the past decades. Any chapter may be taken as a roadmap for subsequent research, though the only limitation is its academic dryness and the lack of narrative depth, which directly affects the reader’s involvement. IAN KERSHAW: HITLER: 1889-1945
VOLKER ULLRICHHITLER: 1889-1945Published: 2018Number of pages: 1856Ulrich is a gifted journalist and his two-volume work is much more readable than Kershaw’s dry one with all benefits. He takes advantage of the enormous amount of published sources and research, avoids established cliches and myths, and suggests a very balanced biography of Hitler as both tyrant and a living being. The dividing line between the two volumes is the start of WWII and each is equally gripping. Summing up, Ulrich’s work is evidently the best among biographies of Hitler up to date. VOLKER ULLRICH: HITLER: 1889-1945

HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST

RAUL HILBERGTHE DESTRUCTION OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS
Published: 1961Number of pages: 13851985 revised edition is evidently the best overall history of the Holocaust by the most respected scholar on the topic. Hilberg suggested a comprehensive multi-level analysis of the original documents, first-hand testimonies, post-war trials, topography of the locations, the role of the key perpetrators, and the anatomy of the killing process. Hilberg reevaluated the whole understanding of the ‘Final solution’ and his work is still relevant and appraised as a must-have reference among the new generation of historians. RAUL HILBERG: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EUROPEAN JEWS
LAURENCE REESHOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY Published: 2017Number of pages: 512Apart from creating one excellent BBC documentary, Rees is a very talented historian and writer, who has shaped his literature brilliancy since the late 90s. The book provides a deep understanding of the chronological rise of antisemitism and genocide in Europe, culminating with the Holocaust. A readable gripping story with a balance between the humans’ stories and a deep understanding of the killing process. Considering the size and involvement, probably the best introducer to the topic. LAURENCE REES: HOLOCAUST: A NEW HISTORY
C. BROWNINGTHE ORIGINS OF THE FINAL SOLUTION 1939-1942Published: 2003Number of pages: 616The book may sound too academic and suits well to experienced readers of the Holocaust-related literature with a piece of background knowledge. It gives the most detailed understanding of the concentration-deportation-killing evolution between the outbreak of WWII in 1939 and Spring 1942 and the operation of the production-scale killing centers. Browning follows Hilberg’s 'cumulative radicalization' approach, rather than the raw post-war ‘intentional’ understanding of the Holocaust. CHRISTOPHER BROWNING: THE ORIGINS OF THE FINAL SOLUTION 1939-1942
DAVID CESARANIFINAL SOLUTION: THE FATE OF THE JEWS 1939-1945
Published: 2015Number of pages: 1056A brilliant scholarly, which follows the chronological narration from the middle-ages anti-semitism to the mass killings by the Nazis. Cesarini provides a very detailed picture by not missing a single country, important event, personality, with a bulk of established figures of the death toll, reexamined in the XXI century by the most respected scholars. The book thus combines all the post-war and recent findings, documents, debunked myths and may serve as a roadmap for further detailing into any of the topics. DAVID CESARANI: FINAL SOLUTION: THE FATE OF THE JEWS 1939-1945

THE WAR IN THE WEST

WILLIAM SHIRER BERLIN DIARY: THE JOURNAL OF A FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT 1934-1941Published: 1941Number of pages: 627It is neither a global history of the war effort on the Western front nor the coverage of the whole period up to 1945. Shirer’s early bestseller is a masterpiece of personal recollections, which would later become the basis for ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by the same author. He suggests an insight perspective of the US journalist for the years of the rise of the Nazis in Germany, the Poland campaign, and a gripping first-hand account of the Fall of France in 1940, including Shirer’s presence in Compiegne during the armistice. WILLIAM SHIRER: BERLIN DIARY: THE JOURNAL OF A FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT 1934-1941
SIEGFRIED WESTPHALTHE GERMAN ARMY IN THE WESTPublished: 1950Number of pages: 224Though this book was published on the heels of WWII, with the restricted resources, it is an insightful journey into the German perspective, particularly in North Africa and Western Europe. Westphal was an experienced Chief of Staff behind Rommel, Kesselring, Rundstedt and his judgment of his superiors is resourceful. The first chapters go chronologically with the interwar years, a rebirth of the army, commanders, Hitler’s leadership. Westphal was an advocate of the ‘clean Wehrmacht’ image. SIEGFRIED WESTPHAL: THE GERMAN ARMY IN THE WEST
JAMES HOLLANDTHE WAR IN THE WEST 1939-1943Published: 2017Number of pages: 1444J. Holland considers himself a revisionist historian, yet he takes advantage of the predecessors, thus one more time reconsiders the post-war cliches, and retells freshly the war effort on the Western Front. The two published volumes cover the 1939-1941 and 1941-1943 periods respectively, with a balance between the behind curtain diplomacy, strategic and operational successes of both sides, analysis of the weapons, first-person accounts. Holland devotes much time to the ‘logistics of war’, especially the German.JAMES HOLLAND: THE WAR IN THE WEST 1939-1943
RICK ATKINSONTHE LIBERATION TRILOGY Published: 2013Number of pages: 2374Goes incredibly detailed with the three strategic chapters of the Allied invasion. Northern Africa October 1942-May 1943, Italian campaign July 1943-June 1944, from D-Day in 1944 to the end of War. Atkinson did a good job in combining the achievements of the historians, highly relating to secondary sources, with trusted analysis and cross-examined figures. The trilogy is a bit dry in reading and too much chronologically, yet worth reading if you want to get more information on particularly theater of war in the West. RICK ATKINSON: THE LIBERATION TRILOGY

THE EASTERN FRONT

LAURENCE REESWAR OF THE CENTURY: WHEN HITLER FOUGHT STALIN
Published: 1999Number of pages: 225The book is neither a comprehensive history of the Eastern front (due to the volume) nor a chronological day-by-day account. Rees is a masterful page-turning narrator and he focuses on the nature and background (historical, political, dictator’s personal) of the war effort between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR, the key figures. His meta-analysis of the events, the motives of the ‘main characters’ on both sides, and between-the-line explanations make the book an excellent and still relevant introducer to the topic. LAURENCE REES: WAR OF THE CENTURY: WHEN HITLER FOUGHT STALIN
ALAN CLARKBARBAROSSA: THE RUSSIAN-GERMAN CONFLICT 1941-1945Published: 1965Number of pages: 522Penetrating writing about the war effort in the East as far as was possible in the mid-60s with the closed Soviet archives and strong reliance on Western historiography and secondary sources. In contrast to Werth’s ‘Russia at War’, Clark’s work is a more balanced approach as he treated Stalin’s regime as another dictatorship. The book starts with the inter-war period and proceeds chronologically, with events and figures, up to 1945 and a little further. The appendix section has road-map information for better understanding. ALAN CLARK: BARBAROSSA: THE RUSSIAN-GERMAN CONFLICT 1941-1945
PAUL CARELLHITLER’S WAR ON RUSSIA 1941-1944Published: 1966Number of pages: 1247The author had been an №3 official in the propaganda machine in Nazi Germany and a debating provocative figure as a military historian. Though both volumes selectively give no mention of the war crimes and the Holocaust, it is still one of the most readable German accounts of the war in the East when it comes to the mastery of narration. He expertly combines the situational first-hand accounts in the field with the meta-analysis of German and Soviet strategy, setbacks, and wins. PAUL CARELL: HITLER’S WAR ON RUSSIA
CATHERINE MERRIDALEIVAN’S WAR: LIFE AND DEATH IN THE RED ARMY, 1949-1945Published: 2005Number of pages: 480The author conducted important and relevant research by telling the personal stories of the Stalin-era soldiers and civilians, leaving behind the propaganda images, decades of silence, and war novels. She took great advantage of both opened archives (letters, reports, interrogations, unaltered accounts) and the 200 interviews with the elderly veterans, putting together a balanced insightful picture. At the same time, it flows like compelling historical research with a nuanced multi-level analysis and conclusions beyond the bare testimonies. CATHERINE MERRIDALE: IVAN’S WAR: LIFE AND DEATH IN THE RED ARMY, 1949-1945
TIMOTHY SNYDERBLOODLANDS: EUROPE BETWEEN HITLER AND STALINPublished: 2010Number of pages: 524It is not a pure history of the war in the East from 1941 to 1945, yet the timeline starting from 1914 with an accent on Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine and Poland, provides a more compelling (than usual) background history. Snyder goes deeply into the crimes of Stalin’s regime, the Nazi war of extermination, including the Holocaust. The book is based on an extensive number of sources, predominantly historical second-hand studies of the recent twenty years. Snyder’s narration is remarkably readable and historically uncut. TIMOTHY SNYDER: BLOODLANDS: EUROPE BETWEEN HITLER AND STALIN
DAVID STAHELOPERATION BARBAROSSA AND GERMANY'S DEFEAT IN THE EAST
Published: 2009Number of pages: 500Stahel is a skillful historian of the new era, an author of a series of compelling books on the Eastern front, and a successor of David Glantz. ‘Barbarossa’ is the first book in the series and a good revaluation of the old-established cliches dealing with the onset of the War in the East in 1941. The research particularly focuses on 1) Strategic plans and theoretical conceptions for war between Germany and the Soviet Union; 2) The period between June 22 and late August 1941 and the takeaways for the whole War. DAVID STAHEL: OPERATION BARBAROSSA AND GERMANY'S DEFEAT IN THE EAST
DAVID M. GLANZWHEN TITANS CLASHED: HOW THE RED ARMY STOPPED HITLER
Published: 1995Number of pages: 432None of such a book list would be complete without David Glatz, and this book is probably his finest. He is one of the most respected Eastern front historians, but he put too much reliance on the Soviet archives, and thus, rendered himself a lot of debate errors. Glantz's style is also too bookish and academically dry for the general WWII readers and should be taken as an additional reading rather than the sole source of the information. He gives a good account of the battles and focuses on the Red Army's military evolution. DAVID M. GLANZ: WHEN TITANS CLASHED: HOW THE RED ARMY STOPPED HITLER

D-DAY / OVERLORD 1944

CORNELIUS RYANTHE LONGEST DAY Published: 1959Number of pages: 350A time-proved WWII classic, a starting point for anyone interested in D-Day. Ryan collected 1000 accounts from German, British, US, and French, with relatively fresh recollections, including generals Taylor, Bradley, Gale, Smith, Halder, Blumentritt, and Speidel. The book is divided into three sections (Wait/Night/Day) and the narration is close to a gripping novel, deepening into the story of the Invasion on the different levels, from the soldier on the Omaha beach to Eisenhower and Rommel. Cornelius Ryan The longest day book
STEPHEN AMBROSED-DAY, JUNE 6, 1944: THE BATTLE FOR THE NORMANDY BEACHESPublished: 1994Number of pages: 656A modern sophisticatedly detailed and extended successor to Ryan’s work. Paying the first 200 pages to an analysis of the sides, commanders, strategy, planning, weapon, combat experience, the book proceeds with a very readable and well-proved account of June 6, with a balance between the big picture and the eye-to-eye fighting. He missed no important issues, debunked some cliches, and revealed never published first-person accounts, all with a reevaluation of the battlefield on D-Day, its setbacks, and outcomes. STEPHEN AMBROSE: D-DAY, JUNE 6, 1944: THE BATTLE FOR THE NORMANDY BEACHES
ANTONY BEEVORD-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY
Published: 2009Number of pages: 591The author had been an №3 official in the propaganda machine in Nazi Germany and a debating provocative figure as a military historian. Though both volumes selectively give no mention of the war crimes and the Holocaust, it is still one of the most readable German accounts of the war in the East when it comes to the mastery of narration. He expertly combines the situational first-hand accounts in the field with the meta-analysis of German and Soviet strategy, setbacks, and wins. ANTONY BEEVOR: D-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY
PETER CADDICK-ADAMSSAND & STEEL: THE D-DAY INVASIONS AND THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE
Published: 2019Number of pages: 1025A recently published book, which has all the means to become a classic. Caddick-Adams did a superb work of getting into the detail of every previously studied issue. In the PREPARATION section (21 chapters) he gave a chapter on all major elements, including the weather forecast. The INVASION retold in-depth the June 5-7 events, locations, names, and figures with regard to the recent historical findings and research since Ambrose. It is not so readable and more academic, yet comprehensive history of D-Day. PETER CADDICK-ADAMS: SAND & STEEL: THE D-DAY INVASIONS AND THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE

JULY 20 PLOT / GERMAN RESSISTANCE

MANVELL & FRAENKELTHE JULY PLOT Published: 1964Number of pages: 250Manvell and Fraenkel's mutual works were always aimed at a wide audience, a mass reader, thus an easy-to-follow, yet not a comprehensive in-depth study of neither the German Resistance nor the July 20 plot. It is a good readable guiding work of modest volume with three main sections: a) THE CONSPIRATORS b) JULY 20 c) BLOODY ASSIZES which do a good job of presenting the key characters and events regarding the assassinations attempts against Hitler, with an accent on Claus von Stauffenberg and the 1944 army plot. ROGER MANVELL & HEINRICH FRAENKEL: THE JULY PLOT
NIGEL JONESCOUNTDOWN TO VALKYRIE: THE JULY PLOT TO ASSASSINATE HITLER Published: 2008Number of pages: 320The most balanced book on the list regarding the history of the Resistance, Stauffenberg, and the history of the July 20 plot. It follows chronologically through Stauffenberg’s life, with thorough attention to detail, by correlating with German history, the rise of the Nazis, and WWII up to the plot itself. The author took great advantage of his academic predecessors and thus cross-examined some debateful or cliche-like assumptions, whilst preserving a broadly-based admiration toward the main character. NIGEL JONES: COUNTDOWN TO VALKYRIE: THE JULY PLOT TO ASSASSINATE HITLER
PETER HOFFMANSTAUFFENBERG: A FAMILY HISTORY: 1905-1944 Published: 1994Number of pages: 442With certainty, this is the most compelling work about Claus Von Stauffenberg, his brothers, wife, and children. Hoffman had unprecedented access to the family and the archives, which led him to draw a living yet comprehensively detailed history. Yes, a little bit academically dry, but it is insightful to understand the man, his surroundings, and his actions. As the author is also an established specialist in German resistance, this part of the book, including the July 20 plot, is also one of the best written among historians. PETER HOFFMAN: STAUFFENBERG: A FAMILY HISTORY: 1905-1944
JOACHIM FESTPLOTTING HITLER’S DEATH: THE GERMAN RESISTANCE TO HITLER 1933-1945
Published: 1994Number of pages: 420While better known for his biography of Hitler, Fest had a few other resourceful books. This one focuses primarily on the resistance among the Army and politicians since Hitler’s rise to power, leaving social opposition off the scene. Evidently, Stauffenberg’s plot, told in detail both from a broader view and on behalf of its participants, is the key ingredient of the story and its narration climax. The book is a very readable, but not a comprehensive account of neither the German resistance nor the story of Stauffenberg. JOACHIM FEST: PLOTTING HITLER’S DEATH: THE GERMAN RESISTANCE TO HITLER 1933-1945

THE WAR AT SEA

E.B.POTTERTHE GREAT SEA WAR: THE STORY OF NAVAL ACTION IN WORLD WAR IIPublished: 1960Number of pages: 480As the leading naval historian in the United States after WWII, Potter had profound access to the archives and to commanding officers still alive: the latter provided corrections and suggestions to the text. The book is a well-written provider to the overall understanding of the War at sea before and during WWII in every theater of operations, though it lacks depth and between-the-lines history conclusions. It misses no important issues or battles in the Atlantic, Pacific, or Mediterranean, except that they are told too compactly and superficially. E.B.POTTER: THE GREAT SEA WAR: THE STORY OF NAVAL ACTION IN WORLD WAR II
FRIEDRICH RUGEDER SEEKRIEG: THE GERMAN NAVY'S STORY 1939-1945Published: 1954Number of pages: 426Ruge was not only a high-ranking Navy officer during and after WWII but a good military historian. He starts with an introduction to the War at sea thinking, the interwar period, and follows through all major navy campaigns and battles participated by Germany under Raeder and Donitz. By being a top-rank participant, the author suggests evaluations of the wins and setbacks (Norway, Malta, North Africa, Battle for Atlantic, and Mediterranean) and explanations of the issues generally too specific for the wide audience. Ruge’s claims and takeaways are mostly well-argued and far from self-justification. FRIEDRICH RUGE: DER SEEKRIEG: THE GERMAN NAVY'S STORY 1939-1945
CRAIG L. SYMONDSWORLD WAR II AT SEA: A GLOBAL HISTORYPublished: 2018Number of pages: 770Professor Symons is a distinguished Maritime historian and at present, this book is the best one-volume history of WWII at sea. The narration is fluent, with a lot of details, and explanations for non-professionals, with evaluations of the ships, men in command, and battles. A separate section deals with the European theater of War prior to Pearl-Harbor and the larger part of the book gives a thorough overall picture of the war at sea and its impact, transport, and combat, on WWII in general for Germany, Italy, Britain, USA, and Japan. CRAIG L. SYMONDS: WORLD WAR II AT SEA: A GLOBAL HISTORY
PHILLIPS O'BRIENHOW THE WAR WAS WON: AIR-SEA POWER AND ALLIED VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II
Published: 2015Number of pages: 640Payson’s work is an example of a brilliantly fluent new-era history of WWII while perceiving it from the idea, that it was the supremacy at sea and in the air, that made it possible for the Allies to win over Germany, Italy, and Japan. The book is written in the ‘Wages of destruction’ manner and thoroughly examines the air and naval power of the key WWII players before and throughout the war both in Europe and in the Pacific, and, more importantly, the shift in supremacy and its impact on the global war. Particularly intriguing to study the reevaluations of the great land battles. PHILLIPS PAYSON O'BRIEN: HOW THE WAR WAS WON: AIR-SEA POWER AND ALLIED VICTORY IN WORLD WAR II