/ A long book about WW2?
Depends what you are into, whether it is an official history (Winston Churchill) or a modern take on it (John Keegan, WW2), a specific battle (Robin Neilands - Normandy 1944) (Stalingrad), or a soldiers perspective (Stephen E Ambrose).
A good book is called Blood Red Snow, written from a German POV in Stalingrad.
Not the longest but "Most Secret War" by R. V. Jones is well worth a read.
"Rise and fall of the third reich" is very readable, although parts don't don't hold up in the face of more recent evidence.
If fiction/alt history is more your bag then you could try something by David Irving I suppose... Or not.
The "Battle for Sicily" 1943 by Carlo d'Est.
Detailed and very readable account of this little known campaign
"The Berlin Raids 1943/44" by Martin Middlebook.
The RAF's supreme effort to end the War by targeting Berlin. It failed at the loss of over 600 bombers and their crews.
"Dunkirk" by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore.
Covers the well known evacuation but also the little known story of the the rear guard who were sacrificed, left behind and fought on tenaciously enabling the bulk of the BEF and many French soldiers to escape.
Antony Beevor's books are excellent. He has a very ambitious one about the whole of WW2. I'm currently reading Stalingrad, which is really good.
A brilliant book about WW2 is "The Good War" by Studs Terkel.
Difficult to get hold of though, I think I got my copy from Amazon US.
for ficiton based in WW2 (and a fair amount of fact) Ken Follet's Winter of the World is good (second part of a trilogy - the first being Fall of Giants set in WW1)
Also "Fortress Malta" by James Holland
A detailed account of the siege of Malta, at one stage the most heavily bombed place on earth (there were over 3,000 bombing raids on the tiny island). The Malta convoys and the gallant RAF defence of the island in the face of overwhelming numbers of Axis aircraft. Also the civilian contribution to the battle.
My granddad was an anti-aircraft gunner there - something about which he never spoke. It must have been horrific.
Many thanks - lots to explore. I like the idea of a Studs Terkel book, although I suspect it wouldn't be quite the history lesson I'm looking for.
'All Hell Let Loose' by Max Hastings: -
All Hell Let Loose +1 a fantastic book not to be missed by WW2 enthusiasts wanting to read about the whole conflict with great eye witness reports.
For individual sections of war then Antony Beevor's Stalingrad followed by Berlin are fantastic. Also Alan Clarke's Barbarossa is up there too for me.
It was a choice between his magnificent work "Catastrophe" (about the origins of the Great War and the utter incompetence of the political and military leaders on all sides which lead to the most appalling casualty rates on all sides during the opening days of the war in 1914 when massive troop formations blundered about Europe's frontiers like latter day Napoleonic War Armies with little cohesion, planning or leadership. The daily casualty rates on all fronts exceeded anything seen later once trench warfare became established); and "All Hell Let Loose" for my Christmas present.
I'm half way through the former and have the latter on my wish list.
Max Hastings is a very good military historian exposing many of the myths surrounding the two world wars.
+1 for All Hell Let Loose, probably the best book covering all of WW2 ever done IMO. Stanlingrad is also excellent.
Nearly finished "the desert war" by alan moorehead.
fantastic read - gives good background, and "eyes on the ground" view and some great sketches of the players involved
The 3 book Richard Evans series is great....should keep you busy for a while.
If you enjoyed that, try "The Desert Generals" by Correlli Barnet.
Fascinating study of the very different characters of O'Connor, Cunningham, Ritchie, Auchinleck and Mongomery, which reminds readers of the three major British victories in the Western Desert, before Monty's Alam Halfa and Alamein, and punctures the inflated Monty myth.....
I will - one of the desert generals (not one in that list) was a great uncle, who rather ignominiously got caught and taken to a POW camp in Italy.
"The desert war" makes it clear how easy that would be - dust, chaos, sketchy lines of communication.... oops.
That would have been General Neame, Cyranaica Command, captured along with General O'Connor on 6th April 1941 in their staff car, which as you say had lost its way in the dark, by a German unit operating behind the British lines? Very bad luck indeed.
How interesting for you being his great nephew.
I see that he won the VC at Neuve Chapelle in the Great War, and after his capture he assisted quite a few fellow officers to escape from the Italian POW camp where they were housed.
Quite a character! Did you get to meet him before he died?
I did - he was indeed a character. Very old school - a real gent. Very into bagging big game in his youth - on one occasion, the big game ( a tiger) decided it had had enough and went for him.
Thereafter, it occupied a spot in a glass case just inside the entrance to his home.
One of his sons was also an active mountaineer while in the army.
On one occasion, I was hanging around in Snell's field and one of the lads wandered up -
"Did you see your cousin in the Alepenstock last night?"
"No! Shit. I don't know what he looks like - I was only 6 when I saw him last!"
"Oh! If I'd known, I'd have introduced you!"
We both thought this was hilarious.
I still do.
I still haven't met him (since I was 6)
Oh, and my great uncle also climbed with Frank Smythe.
Not WW2 but "The Last Valley" about Dien Bien Phu kept me going on a long flight a few years back, fascinating stuff.
Another vote for "Stalingrad".
But if you want a really fun read, I highly recommend "Going Solo" by the superlative writer Roald Dahl. This is about his experiences as a fighter pilot in the RAF during WWII.
Some good suggestions. I would add to them:
Why The Allies Won by Richard Overy
Hitler & Stalin, Parallel Lives by Alan Bullock
Rise and fall of the third Reich is a must read
As it's "the Second World War" by Anthony Beaver
Both would be my first starting position.
Another one if you prefer something a little more light hearted and you want an actual story line is World with out ends by Ken Follett. Though I've just discovered this is part two of three. Does explain a lot.
"History of the Second World War" by Liddel Hart is a very good military history.
"Second World War" by Michael Gibert takes a wider view (political as well as military) and gives some insight into the human cost of the struggle.
Winston Churchill's History of the Second World War is by no means an official history. But it is a wonderful (biased) account by a major player and well worth reading all six volumes.
I read that and it was a good factual book but if you want a book covering the same subject in a much more short winded manner, All Hell Let Loose is a much more captivating read.
He seem to rememeber his being Britain's Official History. Might be wrong....
Whilst I think All Hell Let Loose is an excellent read I wouldn't particularly recommend it as a first book for an all encompassing WWII history. Hastings deliberately takes a slightly different approach so as to make his book complementary to straight histories (he says so in his intro as I recall), looking at the subject as a collection of human experiences rather than more conventional historiography
John Keegan's The Second WW is a superb more standard history and the more recent Andrew Roberts book Storm of War even better IMHO and I would recommend the latter first and foremost to anyone asking what the OP did. Evans is very good but too long and Germany specific for the remit. Gordon Corrigan is interesting and entertaining with some genuinely new thoughts especially on the military side of things but barking mad on some stuff. All the related Hastings and Beevor books are good, especially Beevor's Stalingrad and Hastings' Bomber Command and Armageddon as are those of Richard Overy, particularly Russia's War
Hope there's something of use in there
Gerhard Weinberg "A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II"
900+ pages and 170 pages of notes.
I have dipped into this a lot over the last 20 years and find it very good. It is academic rather than racy and journalistic in style, but a good read all the same.
I read Most secret war by RV Jones recently (possible recommendation here) which is about the electronic warfare.
Rambles on a bit at times but worth a read.
I really liked this book on General W.J. Slim - broadened my perception of WWII into the struggle with Japan in Burma.
So was your uncle one of the Commanding officers at Goose Green ?
Reading about him just now.if its him.
Cousin - yes, he was. Apparently his brother (also in the army) was all bent out of shape as he didn't get to go too. From what I've read, it wasn't much fun, so I'm not sure he missed much!
Some suffering, I guess, is all in the eye of the beholder. After all, mountaineering looks pretty weird to those who don't do it.
Once again, many thanks to everyone. It seems I may need a long cruise, never mind a long flight! I may investigate the availability of some of the suggestions as audiobooks.
Goodness! You come from a very military family.
Were you in the Army?
What about the " Band of Brothers" book by Ambrose, adn all the one following the Japanese War in the same vain.
No! I'm not very good with being ordered to do stuff
I'm not a big fan of details of strategy etc, I always wanted to know what it was actually like to be there, and the extraordinary things that happened on a day to day level. I completely recommend any of the "Forgotten Voices" series -- all short personal accounts from The Imperial War museuam interview archive, privates and generals (and civilians) alike.
"Quartered Safe Out Here" by George MacDonald Fraser (author of the Flashman series) about his everyday life as a squaddy in the fierce jungle fighting in Burma against the Japanese. Pretty brutal stuff from a first class writer.
No I don't think it was much fun.
From what I've read ,your cousin was one of the most popular 'Ruperts' with the ranks.
And highly thought of.
"Origins of WW2" A J P Taylor. Contentious theory that Hitler blundered into it, but a good read.
Elsewhere on the site
PowerFingers is a simple, easy to use product which is incredibly effective for Climbers who require finger strength and... Read more
Will Sim and Andy Inglis have made the second ascent of VIII,9 on Ben Nevis, followed by Will making a rare... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
Perhaps the perfect Xmas gift for the climber in your life... Wild Country's Crack School has two of the worlds best crack... Read more
With four photos in this week's top ten, and a UKC gallery of stunning images we thought it was time we had a chat with... Read more