The Rise of Germany, 1939–1941: The War in the West

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Free sample

An account of the early years of World War II based on extensive new research: “A genuinely fresh approach . . . exceptional” (The Wall Street Journal).
 

James Holland, one of the leading young historians of World War II, has spent over a decade conducting new research, interviewing survivors, and exploring archives that have never before been so accessible to unearth forgotten memoirs, letters, and official records.
 
In The Rise of Germany 1938–1941, Holland draws on this research to reconsider the strategy, tactics, and economic, political, and social aspects of the war. The Rise of Germany is a masterful book that redefines our understanding of the opening years of World War II. Beginning with the lead-up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and ending in the middle of 1941 on the eve of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia, this book is a landmark history of the war on land, in the air, and at sea.
 
“Magnificent.” —Andrew Roberts, New York Times–bestselling author of The Storm of War
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About the author

James Holland is a historian, writer, and broadcaster. The author of The Rise of Germany, 1939-1941 and The Allies Strike Back, 1941–1943, the first two books in The War in the West series, as well as the bestselling Fortress Malta, Battle of Britain, and Dam Busters, he has also written numerous works of historical fiction. Holland regularly appears on television and radio and has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted documentaries Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, among others. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the Sunday Telegraph, for whom he went to Helmand Province in Afghanistan, the Times, Daily Mail, and BBC History Magazine. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and cofounder and program director of the hugely successful Chalke Valley History Festival, Holland has also advised the British government on history curriculum and has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Oct 14, 2015
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9780802190901
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Germany
History / Military / World War II
History / Modern / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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As the Cold War followed on the heels of the Second World War, as the Nuremburg Trials faded in the shadow of the Iron Curtain, both the Germans and the West were quick to accept the idea that Hitler's army had been no SS, no Gestapo, that it was a professional force little touched by Nazi politics. But in this compelling account Omer Bartov reveals a very different history, as he probes the experience of the average soldier to show just how thoroughly Nazi ideology permeated the army. In Hitler's Army, Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union--where the vast majority of German troops fought--to show how the savagery of war reshaped the army in Hitler's image. Both brutalized and brutalizing, these soldiers needed to see their bitter sacrifices as noble patriotism and to justify their own atrocities by seeing their victims as subhuman. In the unprecedented ferocity and catastrophic losses of the Eastrn front, he writes, soldiers embraced the idea that the war was a defense of civilization against Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism, a war of racial survival to be waged at all costs. Bartov describes the incredible scale and destruction of the invasion of Russia in horrific detail. Even in the first months--often depicted as a time of easy victories--undermanned and ill-equipped German units were stretched to the breaking point by vast distances and bitter Soviet resistance. Facing scarce supplies and enormous casualties, the average soldier sank to ta a primitive level of existence, re-experiencing the trench warfare of World War I under the most extreme weather conditions imaginable; the fighting itself was savage, and massacres of prisoners were common. Troops looted food and supplies from civilians with wild abandon; they mercilessly wiped out villages suspected of aiding partisans. Incredible losses led to recruits being thrown together in units that once had been filled with men from the same communities, making Nazi ideology even more important as a binding force. And they were further brutalized by a military justice system that executed almost 15,000 German soldiers during the war. Bartov goes on to explore letters, diaries, military reports, and other sources, showing how widespread Hitler's views became among common fighting men--men who grew up, he reminds us, under the Nazi regime. In the end, they truly became Hitler's army. In six years of warfare, the vast majority of German men passed through the Wehrmacht and almost every family had a relative who fought in the East. Bartov's powerful new account of how deeply Nazi ideology penetrated the army sheds new light on how deeply it penetrated the nation. Hitler's Army makes an important correction not merely to the historical record but to how we see the world today.
This is epic story of the last eight months of World War II in Europe by one of Britain’s most highly regarded military historians, whose accounts of past battles John Keegan has described as worthy “to stand with that of the best journalists and writers” (New York Times Book Review).

In September 1944, the Allies believed that Hitler’s army was beaten, and expected that the war would be over by Christmas. But the disastrous Allied airborne landing in Holland, American setbacks on the German border and in the Hürtgen Forest, together with the bitter Battle of the Bulge, drastically altered that timetable. Hastings tells the story of both the Eastern and Western Fronts, and paints a vivid portrait of the Red Army’s onslaught on Hitler’s empire. He has searched the archives of the major combatants and interviewed 170 survivors to give us an unprecedented understanding of how the great battles were fought, and of their human impact on American, British, German, and Russian soldiers and civilians. 

Hastings raises provocative questions: Were the Western Allied cause and campaign compromised by a desire to get the Soviets to do most of the fighting? Why were the Russians and Germans more effective soldiers than the Americans and British? Why did the bombing of Germany’s cities continue until the last weeks of the war, when it could no longer influence the outcome? Why did the Germans prove more fanatical foes than the Japanese, fighting to the bitter end? This book also contains vivid portraits of Stalin, Churchill, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and the other giants of the struggle. 

The crucial final months of the twentieth century’s greatest global conflict come alive in this rousing and revelatory chronicle.
The story of the British-made bombs, Upkeep and Highball, successfully dropped on Nazi dams “has never been told in such depth before” (Daily Mail, UK).
 
The night of May 16, 1943: Nineteen specially adapted Lancaster bombers take off from an RAF airfield in Lincolnshire, England, each with a huge nine-thousand-pound cylindrical bomb strapped underneath it. Their mission: to destroy three hydroelectric dams that power the Third Reich’s war machine.
 
It was a suicide mission from the outset. First the men had to fly extremely low, at night, and in tight formation over miles of enemy-occupied territory. Then they had to drop with pinpoint precision a complicated spinning cylindrical bomb that had never before been used operationally. More than that, the entire operation had to be put together in less than ten weeks in order to hit the dams when water levels were still high enough for the bombs to be effective.
 
The visionary aviation engineer Barnes Wallis hadn’t even drawn up plans for his concept when the bouncing bomb was green-lighted. What followed was an incredible race against time that, despite numerous setbacks, became one of the most successful and significant bombing raids of all time. “Holland has delved into the new trove” of declassified documents “to shed light on this weapons program, the politics of its development and the eventual mission” (The Wall Street Journal).
 
“An impeccably researched work in the style of a fast-paced techno-thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“Extremely detailed but never dull . . . Holland offers a definitive, nuts-and-bolts history.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“A well-written study of engineering and invention operating under great pressure. . . . For all World War II history buffs.” —Library Journal, starred review
During the third week of February 1944, the combined Allied air forces based in Britain and Italy launched their first round-the-clock bomber offensive against Germany. Their goal: to smash the main factories and production centers of the Luftwaffe while also drawing German planes into an aerial battle of attrition to neutralize the Luftwaffe as a fighting force prior to the cross-channel invasion, planned for a few months later. Officially called Operation ARGUMENT, this aerial offensive quickly became known as “Big Week,” and it was one of the turning-point engagements of World War II.

In Big Week, acclaimed World War II historian James Holland chronicles the massive air battle through the experiences of those who lived and died during it. Prior to Big Week, the air forces on both sides were in crisis. Allied raids into Germany were being decimated, but German resources—fuel and pilots—were strained to the breaking point. Ultimately new Allied aircraft—especially the American long-range P-51 Mustang—and superior tactics won out during Big Week. Through interviews, oral histories, diaries, and official records, Holland follows the fortunes of pilots, crew, and civilians on both sides, taking readers from command headquarters to fighter cockpits to anti-aircraft positions and civilian chaos on the ground, vividly recreating the campaign as it was conceived and unfolded. In the end, the six days of intense air battles largely cleared the skies of enemy aircraft when the invasion took place on June 6, 1944—D-Day.

Big Week is both an original contribution to WWII literature and a brilliant piece of narrative history, recapturing a largely forgotten campaign that was one of the most critically important periods of the entire war.

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