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Second World War in the West
General Works

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Battle of the Bulge
Battle of France, 1940
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Books - Second World War - Western Europe

The Atlantic Wall (3) - The Südwall, Steven J. Zaloga. Looks at the Mediterranean section of the German coastal defence lines, covering the south of France and part of the north Italian coast. These fortifications consumed a significant amount of resources, but when the invasion finally came proved to be largely ineffective, although some did play a part in some of the battles as Allies troops cleared the French coast. This volume looks at the design of the fortifications, their distribution and construction, and the role they played in the fighting in 1944 [read full review]
Marching to the Sound of Gunfire - North-West Europe 1944-1945, Patrick Delaforce . Contains hundreds of short first-hands accounts that illustrate aspects of the British Army's battles between D-Day and the end of the Second World War in Europe. Most useful if you are already familiar with the events being described, in which case it helps put the human face on these battles. Also includes a number of passages written by the author himself, who served as a junior officer during the campaign. [read full review]
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Ghosts of the ETO - American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theatre, 1944-1945, Jonathan Gawne. Mainly looks at the tactical deception unit committed to the fighting in north-western Europe in 1944-45, with a brief look at the second unit sent to Greece. Includes detailed accounts of each of their missions, with an analysis of the lessons learned and the possible impact on the Germans. [read full review]
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Storming the City - U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam, Alec Wahlman . Looks at four city battles - Aachen in 1944, Manila in 1945, Seoul in 1950 and Hue in 1968 to see how the US military coped - what plans it had in place for urban warfare, how effective they were, and how things changed over time. A useful volume that analyses a key aspect of military operations across four rather different battlefields. [read full review]
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Festung Guernsey - Fortress Guernsey: The fortifications of Guernsey - West and South Coasts - Rocquaine to Corbiere. A reproduction of the wartime German handbook to the fortifications of Guernsey, looking at a largely rural part of the west and south coasts. A very valuable historical source, providing detailed info on what defences were present, how they were manned and what each element of the defences was expected to do. [read full review]
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Festung Guernsey - Fortress Guernsey: The fortifications of Guernsey - East Coast - St Martins Point to St Sampsons. A reproduction of the wartime German handbook to the fortifications of Guernsey, looking at the urban defences in St Peter's Port. A very valuable historical source, providing detailed info on what defences were present, how they were manned and what each element of the defences was expected to do. [read full review]
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The German Fallschirmtruppe 1936-41- Its Genesis and Employment in the First Campaigns of the Wehrmacht, Karl-Heinz Golla. A hugely detailed account of the combat deployment of the German paratroops from Poland to Crete, covering their successes and the flaws and failures of their campaigns. Suffers from a tendency to repeat some wartime German propaganda, but still a very useful research tool. [read full review]
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Battlefield French Coast - Bruneval, Paul Oldfield. A splendid account of one of the most successful small-scale raids of the Second World War, carried out to capture the key components from the most modern German radar system. Combines a detailed examination of the raid with a wider history of Radar development in Britain and Germany and the significance of the Würzburg radar system that was its target. [read full review]
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Destination Berchtesgaden - The US Seventh Army during World War II, John Frayn Turner & Robert Jackson. A straightforward narrative history of the US Seventh Army's battles from Sicily, to the south of France and on to the Ardennes, the German border, the crossing of the Thine and the advance into Germany. [read full review]
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Five Days that Shook the World, Nicholas Best. A history of the last five days of the Second World War in Europe, from the death of Mussolini to the German surrender, focusing on the viewpoint and reactions of participants in those events, including soldiers, civilians, politicians and future celebrities. A fascinating read and an unusual view of these famous days. [read full review]
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Vercors 1944 Resistance in the French Alps, Peter Lieb. Looks at a disastrous attempt by the French Resistance to seize control of part of the French Alps in the period after the D-Day landings. The book examines how German paratroops and ground troops crushed the defenders of the Vercors after the Maquis launched an uprising without sufficient outside support, expected a less vigorous German response. [read full review]
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Assault Crossing: The River Seine 1944, Ken Ford. Looks at the 43rd (Wessex) Division's crossing of the Seine at Vernon, showing how chaotic and closely run an affair it was, despite being seen as part of the 'Great Swan', the rapid Allied advance across France after the breakout from Normandy. An interesting account of a battle found between two opposing infantry divisions. [read full review]
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Allies at Dieppe: 4 Commando and the US Rangers, Will Fowler. A study of the 4 Commando and US Ranger attack on the gun battery at Le Mesnil, west of Dieppe, one of the few successes of the otherwise disastrous 1942 attack on Dieppe. An interesting use of the Kindle format to produce a longer text that is normal for Osprey, with extensive use of eyewitness accounts of the raid. [read full review]
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The Fatal Decisions: First Hand Accounts by Hitler's Generals, ed. William Richardson and Seymour Freidlin. Six accounts written by German army generals ten years after the end of the Second World War presenting their view of a series of the main events of the war, from the Battle of Britain to the Battle of the Bulge via Moscow, Stalingrad, El Alamein and D-Day. [read full review]
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Operation Suicide: The Remarkable Story of the Cockleshell Raid, Robert Lyman. A splendid account of the famous canoe raid on German blockade runners based at Bordeaux. As well as a detailed narrative of the raid itself, Lyman has included an excellent account of its origins, the development of the necessary equipment, the formation of the unit that carried out the raid and the origins and repercussions of Hitler's notorious Commando Order. [read full review]
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War in the Ruins: The American Army's Final Battle against Nazi Germany, Edward G. Longacre. A history of the US Army's 100th Infantry Division's involvement in the Second World War, focusing on the battle for Heilbronn, the last major battle fought by American troops in Europe in 1945, as well as covering the division's training, their advance to the German border, attacks on part of the Maginot Line and the impact of the Battle of the Bulge. [read full review]
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Hitler Triumphant: Alternate Decisions of World War II, Peter G. Tsouras. A series of counterfactual scenarios which examine various ways in which the Germans might have won the Second World War, most starting with a single change and working out from there. An entertaining read, even if some of the scenarios do require further dramatic alterations of history to work. [read full review]
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Hitler's Savage Canary - A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II, David Lampe. Tells the story of the Danish Resistance, which from a slow start in 1940 became one of the most effective in occupied Europe, and is now most famous for helping the vast majority of Denmark's Jews escape to neutral Sweden. [read full review]
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The Hunt for Martin Bormann - The Truth, Charles Whiting. A look at the post-war hunt for Martin Bormann, the most senior Nazi leader not accounted for in 1945. Bormann died in Berlin in 1945, but his body wasn't found for three decades, and in the gap a wide range of theories grew up to explain his escape, from major Nazi networks in South America to his being a Soviet spy in retirement in Moscow. [read full review]
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Colditz: Oflag IV-C, Michael McNally. An interesting approach to a familiar subject, covering the historical development of Colditz castle from the earliest wooden fort of the eleventh century to the modern attempts to restore the castle, as well as looking at its time as a Prisoner of War camp and location for some famously ambitious escape attempts [read full review]
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V Weapons Hunt - Defeating German Secret Weapons, Colonel Roy M. Stanley II, USAF (Ret). An utterly fascinating look at the role photo reconnaissance played in the hunt for the German 'V' weapons during the Second World War, written by a former photo-interpreter and illustrated with a vast number of well annotated wartime aerial photographs. [read full review]
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Saturday at M.I.9: The Classic Account of the WWII Allied Escape Organisation, Airey Neave. A compelling account of the author's time at M.I.9, the section of the British secret service that was dedicated to supporting the networks that helped Allied servicemen escape from occupied Europe while fighting the Gestapo and treacherous double agents [read full review]
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Images of War: Blitzkrieg in the West, Ian Baxter. A collection of often dramatic pictures showing the unstoppable advance of the Germany army and air force across the Low Countries and France in the summer of 1940, Germany's greatest victory of the Second World War and the campaign that established German mastery of much of the European continent. [read full review]
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General Works


The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming's Red Indians, Craig Cabell. An account of the history of a British Special Forces unit formed to capture intelligence from just behind enemy lines, and that served in North Africa, Italy and Northern Europe, carrying out some very daring missions under difficult conditions and seizing a great deal of valuable intelligence material [read full review]
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Home Run: Escape from Nazi Europe, John Nichol and Tony Rennell. A compelling account of the risks that were taken by evaders and the people that helped them attempt to escape from Nazi occupied Europe during the Second World War. This well balanced book uses eyewitness accounts to take us into the escape lines that spirited thousands of Allied airmen back to Britain, with a well judged but somber section that makes it clear just how big a risk their European helpers were taking. [see more]
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cover Band of Brothers , The book that inspired the epic TV series based on the true wartime exploits of a unit within the elite 101 Airborne.
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Corps Commander , Major General Sir Brian Horrocks with Belfield, Eversley and Essame, H., Magnum Books, London, 1979 (First Published 1977).
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Biographies

Carve Her Name With Pride, R. J. Minney. The classic biography of Violette Szabo, one of the most famous SOE operatives of the Second World War, tracing her life from her childhood in Britain and France to her brief tragic wartime marriage and her career in SOE, which saw her captured on her second mission, imprisoned, tortured and finally executed in the last days of the war. [read full review]
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General 'Boy' - The Life of Sir Frederick Browning, Richard Mead. Best known for his role in Operation Market Garden, 'Boy' Browning was far from a typical Guards officer, growing up with theatrical connections in a family linked to the Savoy Hotel, and involved in the importing of Hennessy brandy into the UK, industry, while Boy married Daphne du Maurier and worked for Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh after the war. [read full review]
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Monty and Patton: Two Paths to Victory, Michael Reynolds. Twin biographies of two of the best known Allied generals of the Second World War, looking at how their early careers moulded their later commands, the difficult relationship between the two men and their individual styles of command.  [read full review]
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The Military Life and Times of Sir Miles Dempsey, GBE KCB DSO MC - Monty's Army Commander, Peter Rostron. A much needed full-length biography of a commander who led a corps during the invasions of Sicily and southern Italy and the British Second Army on D-Day and during the campaign in Normandy, the break-out from Normandy, the advance across France, at Arnhem and the crossing of the Rhine [read full review]
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The Venlo Incident, Captain S. Payne Best. A valuable account of the time Captain Best spent in German captivity after he was captured during the Venlo incident, one of the most famous British intelligence failings of the Second World War. Best spent time in Gestapo and SS custody, and several years at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was one of a number of V.I.P. prisoners kept in virtual isolation. [read full review]
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Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan, Shrabani Basu. A detailed book covering the story of Noor Inayat Khan one of the most famous SOE agents in World War 2. A well written and moving account of a young girl’s bravery with excellent research which answers many questions about Noor’s final fate that were left unanswered for many years. It is a fitting tribute to this young Indian woman’s bravery and sacrifice and is a moving biography.
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Battles

Assault on Germany: The Battle of Geilenkirchen, Ken Ford. This is a very detailed account of the Allied assault on the German border town of Geilenkirchen at the end of 1944. This was the first battle fought by British troops on German soil during the Second World War, and also a good example of Anglo-American co-operation, with troops from both countries playing a major part in the assault. [read full review]
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Battle for Crete, John Hall Spencer. A valuable reprint of one of the classic accounts of the German invasion of Crete. Hall Spencer has produced a book that combined a clear overview of the battle, from the moment the British decided to intervene in Greece, to the final evacuation from Crete, while at the same time using eye witness accounts to bring us right down to the level of the individual platoons and soldiers fighting around the crucial airfields on Crete. As a result the course of the battle becomes much clearer, as do the reasons for the Allied failure to hold Crete. One of the best accounts of an individual battle I have read. [see more]
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Operation Dragoon, 1944: France's other D-Day, Steven J Zaloga. A well illustrated and clearly written account of the Allied invasion of southern France, an undeservedly little known campaign which came at about the same time as the breakout from Normandy and helped force the Germans to evacuate most of France. This volume follows the course of the campaign from the landings on 15 August 1944 to its end on 14 September, when the troops that had landed in the south of France officially moved from the Mediterranean to the European theatre of operations. [see more]
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Operation Dragoon: The Liberation of Southern France, Anthony Tucker-Jones. A useful book that places this controversial campaign in its wider context, looking at the debates between the Allied leaders and its role in the revival of French power, as well as following the troops that landed in southern France up to Belfort and Lorraine. [read full review]
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Battle of the Bulge

Battle of the Bulge: Volume Three: The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division in Action, December 1944-January 1945, Hans Wijers. Focuses on the battles of a single German division and their opponents on the northern flank of the Battle of the Bulge, where the Germans made the least progress. Could do with a bit more background, and at least a basic map, but will still be of value to those with an interest in this massive battle [read full review]
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The Ardennes 1944-1945 Hitler's Winter Offensive, Christer Bergström. A splendid account of the Ardennes Offensive, covering the entire battle, from the impressive German planning, the surprise attack and the costly battle of attrition that followed, up to the final end of the campaign at the start of February 1945. Combines detailed accounts of individual battles for villages, with regular overviews of the entire campaign, to produce a rare example of a really large scale account of a campaign that also produces a clear picture of how these details fit into the wider picture [read full review]
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The battle of the Bulge: Hitler's Final Gamble, Patrick Delaforce. A good account of the battle of the Bulge, including material on Hitler's subsidiary attacks and the air war on both sides. Supported by good maps, with detailed accounts of the activities of the individual US divisions caught out by the German attack. Has a slightly odd structure in places, but still a useful history of the final German offensive in the west. [read full review]
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The Tigers of Bastogne: Voices of the 10th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge, Michael Collins and Martin King. Looks at the crucial contribution made to the defence of Bastogne by the 10th Armored Division, the first US unit to arrive in the city, and solely responsible for holding it until reinforcements arrived to share the burden. [read full review]
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The Battle East of Elsenborn and the Twin Villages, William C.C. Cavanagh. A very detailed examination of ten day's of fighting on the American left during the Battle of the Bulge, looking at the battles that saw outnumbered and under strength American units delay the main thrust of the German offensive for long enough to allow the Americans to form a new defensive line on the Elsenborn ridge and stop the main German thrust before it made any real progress. [read full review]
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The Maginot Line: History and Guide, J.E Kaufmann, H.W. Kaufmann, A. Jankovic-Potocnik and P. Lang. A combination of a history of the Maginot Line, from its design and construction to its use in battle in 1940 and 1944-45, with a detailed guide to the individual fortified areas (or ouvrages). A very useful guide to this controversial line of fortifications, and to the brief periods when it was caught up in the fighting [read full review]
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Men of Steel: 1st SS Panzer Corps, The Ardennes and Eastern Front 1944-45, Michael Reynolds. A hugely detailed account of the battles fought by the 1st SS Panzer Corps in the last few months of the Second World War, covering its role in the Ardennes offensive in the west and the last German offensive of the war in Hungary. [read full review]

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Battle of France, 1940

Images of War: Armoured Warfare and the Fall of France, 1940, Anthony Tucker-Jones. Starts with chapters on British, French and German tanks and the Maginot Line, then looks at the campaigns in Belgium and the Netherlands, the German breakthrough that ended at Dunkirk and finishes with the Fall of France. A good choice of pictures that well illustrate the campaign [read full review]
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The Battle for France: Six Weeks that changed the World, Philip Warner. Tells the dramatic story of the German victory in the west in May-June 1940, the six week long campaign that led to German domination of the European continent and turned a mainly European conflict into a genuine World War. [read full review]
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Dunkirk

Dunkirk 1940: Operation Dynamo, Douglas C Dildy. A clear well organised account of the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940, supported by a good selection of maps, illustrations and contemporary photographs. Looks at the British & German plans for the evacuation or elimination of the Dunkirk pocket, the forces involved on both sides and the day-by-day events of the battle. [read full review]
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