Band of brothers

Due to the HBO mini series this is a very well known book that follows the 101th airborne through the European champaign in the second world war. Sadly reading the book offered no greater insight than the miniseries did making reading the book seem somewhat unnecessary. I would even go so far as to recommend the tv-series over the book since it's easier to follow the narrative there. 

Disregarding the TV show the book itself is a well written albeit fairly dry account of the airborne's time in Europe. It's apparent that the author have gone through a lot of trouble to get first hand accounts. The events are described in a way that circumventing a lot of the large scale politics and instead focuses on the indicated individual soldiers. This makes for a very compelling narrative and explains the success of the TV adaptation.

I truly enjoy this kind of book where you get an insight into the people behind major historic events. This is especially interesting when the event in question is as major as a world war.

I think the book is interesting but I would recommend watching the series over reading the book. 

 

The rise and fall of the third Reich

This is a massive book which dives deep into the personalties and characters of the second world war. 

It's written by a journalist with no real claims at being an historian which in itself proves to be a boon to a book this massive. 
The personal narrative is almost maintained throughout the book with short but relevant lapses into numbers of casualties and statistics. 

The author worked as a foreign correspondent in Germany during the both the years leading up to to the war and the war itself. 
This familiarity with the times and characters of the era allows him to add a lot of personal references and thoughts which adds a depth to the narrative. 

It's hard to define an era and it's hard to describe horrible events with clarity, this book manages to do both without becoming boring. 

For a layman I would say this is the definitive book on the second world war, at least from a German and geopolitical point of view.

Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion

This book is definitely one of the most interesting memoir's I have ever read.
Almost everything about it sparks my interests, it's a story about glamor, bravery and war.

Even though the narrative can be somewhat narcissistic (even for a biography) the main story and the characters make it well worth the read.

The book tells the story of a young lady on a quest for adventure, the journey starts in Europe during the 20th's and follows her adventures throughout the entire second world war.
The story feels like a crossover between With the old breed and The great Gatsby, it's a costume drama in war.

Death knows when it is your turn, with or without your helmet.

I stumbled upon this book while trying to broaden my reading list, the aim was to read at least a few books written buy and about women and preferably not about war...
I managed to tick at least one of the boxes and to be honest I can't be happier, this is a must for anyone interested in Europe's recent history.

A Rumor of War

A rumor of war by Philip Caputo is a strong memoir of a war that history is trying to forget.
The book follows a young soldier during a horrible war of attrition that no-one planned for.

War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste.

The book feels fairly honest even though you do get a sense that the author is trying to smooth things over.
Especially if you consider other horrific stories that circulate around the war in Vietnam.
You get the sense that the story is written by someone who have spent a lot of years in a society that's ashamed of it's actions during a conflict.
This hidden shame makes a lot of the book feel forced however it is apparent that the author is trying to describe events for future generations.

Even though the book is somewhat unstructured and sometimes feels a bit forced the character descriptions and the vivid landscapes makes for a fascinating read.
It must also be said that the book does try to deal honestly with the atrocities dealt to the Vietnamese people by the American soldiers.
It does this while still acknowledging that the individual soldiers can't be blamed, the did what there country asked of them.

But the past is just the same and War’s a bloody game ... Have you forgotten yet? ... Look down and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

With the old breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

With the old breed is one of the stories that inspired the HBO miniseries the Pacific.
The show like the book focuses on the personal stories in a war of millions. It's a biography of a solider
with little or no say in deployments or tactics. This focus on the individual story makes the book gripping and grim.
The author distances himself from horrible the honesty by a detached cold narrative which serves to intensify the words.

War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste.

The book follows Sledge through his entire pacific champaign describing both the camaraderie and the misery of war in the pacific.
It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed the narrative, it's to brutal for enjoyment but it gave an insight into the minds
of the soldier.
You really do get a sense of the terror and confusion felt by the grunts far away from home lost in someone else's war.

The book is as compelling as it is dark and I would definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the TV-show.
In contrast with the cinematic version the book does not come of as a glorification of war.

Meditations

Meditations was my first foray into ancient philosophy but I do believe that I struck gold directly.
This book offers both a fascinating insight into the life and mind of one of the most powerful men in the history of
the world (Marcus Aurelius was a roman emperor) and a refreshing way to look at life.
It's the latter of those two that makes me consider making reading this book a yearly commitment.

Given both the age and the subject of the book it is surprisingly accessible (partly this should be credited to the excellent
translation by Martin Hammond) and since most of the philosophical content focuses on the view of "self" it is still applicable even though
the book was written a few thousand years ago.

The book is not written as fiction, which forced me to alter my reading habits to be able to fully understand the meaning of the content.
I found that reading a few pages each night and reflecting on the content during the following day was a good way understand the philosophical concepts.

Finally I would recommend this book to anyone interested in philosophy or roman history.

Neptune's Inferno: The U.S Navy at Guadalcanal

Given my fascination with both naval warfare and history this gripping narrative of seldom discussed part of the Guadalcanal offensive
struck gold.
The author, James D. Hornfischer manages to combine the historical facts with an exiting story in a similar way to the brilliant Stalingrad.

As the title implies the book focuses on the naval operations surrounding the invasion of Guadalcanal. However it also
does a fair job at describing the build up to both the pacific conflict and the reasons for launching a campaign against
Guadalcanal. It describes a point in the pacific war where the U.S infantry forces where forced to rely on a navy which had little
to no resources and that crumbled under the might of the Japanese navy. The book follows the U.S navy through this low points and sticks
with it until the massive American industrial complex with the help of some spectacular naval action managed to turn the tide in the pacific.

I really enjoyed the way the book connects the historic naval focus of midway and pearl harbor to the infantry focus
of the Guadalcanal invasion. This book should really be on your reading
list if you have any interest in the pacific theater of the second world war.