In the History Bookshelf January 2019 edition, we’ll be looking at a few books you might want to check out this month. They won’t all be non-fiction books, but they’re guaranteed to give you some ideas about what to read in the coming weeks!
Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II
This is a new historical fiction release from Makos who chronicles that story of a tank crew following the invasion of western Europe. Fans of the movie Fury are likely to find this one a good read.
The book promises the following WWII engagements:
- Armor Ambush at Mons
- The Battle of the Bulge
- Welborn Massacre
- a final showdown at Nazi Fort Knox
Makos is respected for his attention to detail and historical research. If you’re in the mood for some historical fiction this winter as the temperatures plunge (or for those in the Southern hemisphere…) as the waning days of summer begin to set in…check this one out!
Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II
The book jumps between strategic, tactical and personal accounts of the evolving air war in Europe. The focal point, however, is Operation ARGUMENT which intended to deplete German air power prior to the allied invasion of western Europe.
Why does this one make a great February read? Because Operation Argument took place in February 1944! So give this one a looksie if it’s something the piques your interest.
Tragedy at Honda
We have covered air and land. Let’s take a look at the sea now!
Tragedy at Honda covers the events of September 8th, 1923 off the California coast near Point Honda where nine US Navy Destroyers ran aground in the fog shrouded night. The account details the tragic events, but also the efforts to save the sailors and the subsequent massive courts martial which ended up being the largest in US history.
I picked this one because of the non-standard topic and because it’s important to remember our servicemen whether directly in harms way or not. Their jobs are often treacherous by the very nature of the martial life they’ve chosen to live. Given the current government shutdown that excludes payments to our brave Coast Guard sailors, I wanted to throw this one out there. Check it out!
The First Conspiracy – The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington
Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
From the Amazon.com description:
Taking place during the most critical period of our nation’s birth, The First Conspiracy tells a remarkable and previously untold piece of American history that not only reveals George Washington’s character, but also illuminates the origins of America’s counterintelligence movement that led to the modern day CIA.
In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan. In the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, these traitorous soldiers, along with the Governor of New York, William Tryon, and Mayor David Mathews, launched a deadly plot against the most important member of the military: George Washington himself.
This is the story of the secret plot and how it was revealed. It is a story of leaders, liars, counterfeiters, and jailhouse confessors. It also shows just how hard the battle was for George Washington and how close America was to losing the Revolutionary War.
In this historical page-turner, New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer teams up with American history writer and documentary television producer, Josh Mensch to unravel the shocking true story behind what has previously been a footnote in the pages of history. Drawing on extensive research, Meltzer and Mensch capture in riveting detail how George Washington not only defeated the most powerful military force in the world, but also uncovered the secret plot against him in the tumultuous days leading up to July 4, 1776.
This one could be great or it could be a bust. I’m not a huge fan of Meltzer, so I’m witholding judgement. This one was released on January 8th, 2019 so it’s freshly released. Check it out here.
Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975
From the Amazon.com description:
Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings, and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls, and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, and Huey pilots from Arkansas.
No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the twenty-first century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.
Hastings is becoming one of those authors that writes sweeping histories of vast and complicated periods of time. I think given the recent’ish release of The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynne Novick there’s a hunger for these kinds of high level critical re-evaluations of the conflict. As a result, we get books like this one. That said, Hastings definitely has my attention here! Check it out!