Friday 8 May is the 70th anniversary of VE Day, the date that marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. To coincide with this important historic event we have drawn together a few of our favourite books on the topic of the war that claimed the lives of 50-80 million between 1939 and 1945, and involved every single one of the world’s great powers.
Viewing World War Two from the ordinary British serviceman’s perspective, Alan Allport’s colorful, deeply moving, and unique social history explores the diverse experiences of the more than three million unlikely citizen-soldiers who served in the British Army from 1939 to 1945.
From D-Day to VE-Day, historian John Buckley offers a radical reexamination of Great Britain’s military prowess in the last years of World War Two, suggesting that the oft-maligned British Army was, in fact, more than a match for the Nazi war machine.
‘His authority, blended with readability and a genuinely fresh, exciting and convincing thesis, makes this the finest account of D-Day and beyond for many, many a year.’ – James Holland, BBC History Magazine
A prominent historian argues that the Nazis’ humiliating defeat of the French in 1940 was not the fault of military feebleness or national decadence, as is commonly understood, but instead was due to the shameful betrayal by political and military elites.
‘A well thought-out and well-presented book on a thorny problem of European history: why was France defeated in 1940?’ – Robert Gildea, author of Marianne in Chains
An account of twelve days in December 1941, when interlinked events—including the Battle of Moscow, the Pearl Harbor raid, and Hitler’s declaration of war on America—decided the outcome of a war and changed the course of a century.
‘Evan Mawdsley’s December 1941 marks the change from a continental war into a global war in an original and interesting way.’ – Antony Beevor, Sunday Telegraph
Those Who Hold Bastogne: The True Story of the Soldiers and Civilians Who Fought in the Biggest Battle of the Bulge, by Pete Schrijvers
This compelling book recounts in new detail the horrific siege of Bastogne in the winter of 1944–45, through the personal stories of American soldiers outnumbered ten-to-one, Belgians trapped in their strategically important town, and Hitler’s forces desperate for a decisive victory.
A fresh exploration of the Second World War through twelve key events that shaped the direction and outcome of the conflict.
“Philip Bell provides a sharp depth of writing that conveys the detail required in an engaging and informative manner about a multi-faceted conflict that still grips our attention even after all these years.”—Leslie J M Obre, History Teaching Review
The master historian John Lukacs explores lasting questions and enigmas about World War II, its consequences, and its persistent legacy.
“Mr. Lukacs is one of the more incisive historians of the 20th century, and especially of the tangled events leading to World War II.” -Joseph C. Goulden, Washington Times
Coming soon to Yale University Press