Hi everyone, here are our recommended titles for the week, five digital titles available through OverDrive and five print titles available through StarCat.
This week, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, all suggested read titles, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books, focus on the World War II era.
DIGITAL SUGGESTIONS OF THE WEEK:
The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw:
The instant classic that changed the way we saw World War II and an entire generation of Americans, from the beloved journalist whose own iconic career has lasted more than fifty years.
In this magnificent testament to a nation and her people, Tom Brokaw brings to life the extraordinary stories of a generation that gave new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and honor.
From military heroes to community leaders to ordinary citizens, he profiles men and women who served their country with valor, then came home and transformed it: Senator Daniel Inouye, decorated at the front, fighting prejudice at home; Martha Settle Putney, one of the first black women to serve in the newly formed WACs; Charles Van Gorder, a doctor who set up a MASH-like medical facility in the middle of battle, then opened a small clinic in his hometown; Navy pilot and future president George H. W. Bush, assigned to read the mail of the enlisted men under him, who says that in doing so he “learned about life”; and many other laudable Americans.
To this generation that gave so much and asked so little, Brokaw offers eloquent tribute in true stories of everyday heroes in extraordinary times.
Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings:
From one of our finest military historians, a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences.
World War II involved tens of millions of soldiers and cost sixty million lives–an average of twenty-seven thousand a day. For thirty-five years, Max Hastings has researched and written about different aspects of the war. Now, for the first time, he gives us a magnificent, single-volume history of the entire war.
Through his strikingly detailed stories of everyday people–of soldiers, sailors and airmen; British housewives and Indian peasants; SS killers and the citizens of Leningrad, some of whom resorted to cannibalism during the two-year siege; Japanese suicide pilots and American carrier crews–Hastings provides a singularly intimate portrait of the world at war. He simultaneously traces the major developments–Hitler’s refusal to retreat from the Soviet Union until it was too late; Stalin’s ruthlessness in using his greater population to wear down the German army; Churchill’s leadership in the dark days of 1940 and 1941; Roosevelt’s steady hand before and after the United States entered the war–and puts them in real human context.
Manhattan Beach: A Novel by Jennifer Egan:
Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author.
Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, Esquire, Vogue, The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA TODAY, Time • A New York Times Notable Book
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.
A Meal in Winter: A Novel of World War II by Hubert Mingarelli:
Mingarelli’s timeless novel begins one morning in the dead of winter, during the darkest years of World War II, with three German soldiers heading out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders with tracking down and bringing back for execution “one of them”—a Jew. Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group’s sympathies begin to splinter when each man is forced to confront his own conscience as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.
Described by Liberation as “impossible to put down,” A Meal in Winter, with its “simple declarative sentences and crystalline, cinematic vignettes” (Publishers Weekly) is a “masterpiece of empathy and horror” (The Guardian) that recalls the cinema of Polanski and Hitchcock, the work of Isaac Babel and Ernest Hemingway, and Louis Begley’s Wartime Lies.
Warlight: A Novel by Michael Ondaatje:
NATIONAL BEST SELLER
From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.
In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself—shadowed and luminous at once—we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey—through facts, recollection, and imagination—that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.
PRINT BOOK SUGGESTIONS OF THE WEEK:
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac:
Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.
But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.
D-day Girls: The Spies Who Armed The Resistance, Sabotaged The Nazis And Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose:
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The dramatic, untold true story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory in World War II
“Gripping. Spies, romance, Gestapo thugs, blown-up trains, courage, and treachery (lots of treachery)—and all of it true.”—Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake
In 1942, the Allies were losing, Germany seemed unstoppable, and every able man in England was on the front lines. To “set Europe ablaze,” in the words of Winston Churchill, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) was forced to do something unprecedented: recruit women as spies. Thirty-nine answered the call, leaving their lives and families to become saboteurs in France.
In D-Day Girls, Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to tell the thrilling story of three of these remarkable women. There’s Andrée Borrel, a scrappy and streetwise Parisian who blew up power lines with the Gestapo hot on her heels; Odette Sansom, an unhappily married suburban mother who saw the SOE as her ticket out of domestic life and into a meaningful adventure; and Lise de Baissac, a fiercely independent member of French colonial high society and the SOE’s unflappable “queen.” Together, they destroyed train lines, ambushed Nazis, plotted prison breaks, and gathered crucial intelligence—laying the groundwork for the D-Day invasion that proved to be the turning point in the war.
Rigorously researched and written with razor-sharp wit, D-Day Girls is an inspiring story for our own moment of resistance: a reminder of what courage—and the energy of politically animated women—can accomplish when the stakes seem incalculably high.
D-Day, June 6, 1944 : The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose:
Stephen E. Ambrose’s D-Day is the definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle, a day that changed the course of history.
D-Day is the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their lives, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Distinguished historian Stephen E. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination—what Eisenhower called “the fury of an aroused democracy”—that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged.Drawing on more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans, Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion had to be abandoned, and how enlisted men and junior officers acted on their own initiative when they realized that nothing was as they were told it would be.
The action begins at midnight, June 5/6, when the first British and American airborne troops jumped into France. It ends at midnight June 6/7. Focusing on those pivotal twenty-four hours, it moves from the level of Supreme Commander to that of a French child, from General Omar Bradley to an American paratrooper, from Field Marshal Montgomery to a German sergeant.
Ambrose’s D-Day is the finest account of one of our history’s most important days.
The Wartime Sisters: A Novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman:
For fans of Lilac Girls, the next powerful novel from the author of Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist The Two-Family House about two sisters working in a WWII armory, each with a deep secret.
“Loigman’s strong voice and artful prose earn her a place in the company of Alice Hoffman and Anita Diamant, whose readers should flock to this wondrous new book.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale
“The Wartime Sisters shows the strength of women on the home front: to endure, to fight, and to help each other survive.” —Jenna Blum, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Lost Family and Those Who Save Us
Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.
The Winds of War and War & Remembrance by Herman Wouk:
If you like historical fiction and have never read these books, which together chronicle the lives of the Henry Family, their friends and historical figures encountered by family patriach Victor “Pug” Henry from 1939 through the end of World War II – you should read these books.
Granted, these books are not light beach reads, and indeed, it might take you all summer to finish both books.
However, for those who love history/historical fiction they offer a fascinating window into the past and reading them is time well spent.
On a related note, the library also owns the entire, again very long, mini-series based upon both books – and those two DVD sets could also take you all summer to watch – but I don’t believe they are available for streaming – so check them out!
And here is the official, and quite short, overview of the two-book series:
A masterpiece of historical fiction, this is the Great Novel of America’s “Greatest Generation”.
Herman Wouk’s sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America’s most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk’s spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events – and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II – as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war’s maelstrom.
Bonus Recommendation – another World War II story written by Herman Wouk:
The Caine Mutiny:
The Novel that Inspired the Now-Classic Film The Caine Mutiny and the Hit Broadway Play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status of a modern classic.
Have a great week!
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