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If a mere seven more MPs had voted with Prime Minister JBM Hertzog in favour of neutrality, South Africa’s history would have been quite different.
Parliament’s narrow decision to go to war in 1939 led to a seismic upheaval throughout the 1940s: black people streamed in their thousands from rural areas to the cities in search of jobs; volunteers of all races answered the call to go ‘up north’ to fight; and opponents of the Smuts government actively hindered the war effort by attacking soldiers and committing acts of sabotage. World War Two upended South Africa’s politics, ruining attempts to forge white unity and galvanising opposition to segregation among African, Indian and coloured communities. It also sparked debates among nationalists, socialists, liberals and communists such as the country had never previously experienced.
As Richard Steyn recounts so compellingly in 7 Votes, the war’s unforeseen consequence was the boost it gave to nationalism, both Afrikaner and African, that went on to transform the country in the second half of the 20th century. The book brings to life an extraordinary cast of characters, including wartime leader Jan Smuts, DF Malan and his National Party colleagues, African nationalists from Anton Lembede and AB Xuma to Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela, the influential Indian activists Yusuf Dadoo and Monty Naicker, and many others.
The Last Hurrah describes in vivid detail a pivotal moment not just in the history of South Africa, that far-flung imperial outpost, but of the British Empire itself. The year 1947 marked the high-water mark of the British Empire in Africa, but also the very moment at which it began to unravel, ahead of the Afrikaner Nationalist victory in South Africa in 1948, which led inexorably to the Republic of South Africa in 1961 and its departure from the Commonwealth.
Graham Viney's book not only superbly captures a moment in the life of a fractious, recently formed 'nation', before its descent into nearly five decades of darkness, but also gives us an intimate and revealing portrait of the royal family - King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret - hard at work in support of the national interest. It seems clear that the present Queen Elizabeth must have learned a great deal from her father, but perhaps particularly her mother, about duty and statecraft in the course of this three-month tour, during which the then princess celebrated her twenty-first birthday.
Viney evocatively details the background to the 1947 royal tour of southern Africa, which took in not just the length and breadth of what was then the Union of South Africa, but its neighbours, too: Basutoland (now Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana), Swaziland (very recently renamed the Kingdom of eSwatini), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). The royal family travelled ceaselessly, from February to April that year, on a specially commissioned, white-painted train, meeting thousands of people at every stop along the way.
The tour was a show of imperial solidarity and a recognition of South Africa's contribution to the Allied cause during the Second World War, specifically that of South African prime minister Jan Smuts, who, though once an adversary in the Boer War and Churchill's jailer, had served in both British war cabinets and been nicknamed 'the handyman of Empire'. Despite concerns and ongoing controversy, wherever the tour took the Royal Family, South Africans of all kinds turned out in their thousands to cheer and welcome them. But India was to gain independence later that same year and just one year later, Smuts had been ousted from power and South Africa set on the path to becoming a republic.
The Last Hurrah draws skilfully on many diverse sources, including the Royal Archive at Windsor, to explore not just the troubled politics of the time, but also local society and the royal visitors in richly textured, telling detail. The book includes many photographs of the royal family on tour not previously published, including stills from film footage unearthed in the South African Railway Museum archives.
From the secret SAS archives, and acclaimed author Ben Macintyre: the first ever authorized history of the SAS.
In the summer of 1941, at the height of the war in the Western Desert, a bored and eccentric young officer, David Stirling, came up with a plan that was radical and entirely against the rules: a small undercover unit that would inflict chaos and mayhem behind enemy lines. Despite intense opposition, Winston Churchill personally gave Stirling permission to recruit the toughest, brightest and most ruthless soldiers he could find. So began the most celebrated and mysterious military organisation in the world: the SAS. Now, 75 years later, the SAS has finally decided to tell its astonishing story. It has opened its secret archives for the first time, granting historian Ben Macintyre full access to a treasure trove of unseen reports, memos, diaries, letters, maps and photographs, as well as free rein to interview surviving Originals and those who knew them.
The result is an exhilarating tale of fearlessness and heroism, recklessness and tragedy; of extraordinary men who were willing to take monumental risks. It is a story about the meaning of courage.
Historian Karen Horn painstakingly tracked down a number of former POWs in which their interviews reveal rich narratives of hardship, endurance, humour, longing and self-discovery. Instead of fighting, these men adapted to another war, one which was fought on the inside of many prison camps.
In their interviews, all the POWs expressed surprise at being asked to share their experiences of almost 70 years earlier.They returned home in 1945 to a country which soon afterwards tried its utmost to promote national amnesia with regard to the country’s participation in the war.
With great insight and empathy, Karen Horn shines a light on a neglected corner of South African history. Karen Horn is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University.
The incredible story of the greatest female spy in history, from one of Britain's most acclaimed historians - available for pre-order now In a quiet English village in 1942, an elegant housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted wife and mother-of-three, the woman known to her neighbours as Mrs Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity. However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, she was racing through the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific intelligence from one of the country's most brilliant nuclear physicists. Secrets that she would transmit to Soviet intelligence headquarters via the radio transmitter she was hiding in her outdoor privy. Far from a British housewife, 'Mrs Burton' - born Ursula Kuczynski, and codenamed 'Sonya' - was a German Jew, a dedicated communist, a colonel in Russia's Red Army, and a highly-trained spy. From planning an assassination attempt on Hitler in Switzerland, to spying on the Japanese in Manchuria, and helping the Soviet Union build the atom bomb, Sonya conducted some of the most dangerous espionage operations of the twentieth century. Her story has never been told - until now. Agent Sonya is the exhilarating account of one woman's life; a life that encompasses the rise and fall of communism itself, and altered the course of history. 'Macintyre does true-life espionage better than anyone else' John Preston
**THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER** The book that inspired Steven Spielberg's acclaimed TV series, produced by Tom Hanks and starring Damian Lewis. In Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose pays tribute to the men of Easy Company, a crack rifle company in the US Army. From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the dangerous parachute landings on D-Day and their triumphant capture of Hitler's 'Eagle's Nest' in Berchtesgaden. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. Repeatedly send on the toughest missions, these brave men fought, went hungry, froze and died in the service of their country. A tale of heroic adventures and soul-shattering confrontations, Band of Brothers brings back to life, as only Stephen E. Ambrose can, the profound ties of brotherhood forged in the barracks and on the battlefields. 'History boldly told and elegantly written . . . Gripping' Wall Street Journal 'Ambrose proves once again he is a masterful historian . . . spellbinding' People
Tyrant, psychopath, and implementer of a ruthless programme of racial extermination, Adolf Hitler was also the charismatic Fuhrer of millions of dedicated followers. In this major new biography, internationally acclaimed German historian Peter Longerich brings Hitler back to centre-stage in the history of Nazism, revealing a far more active and interventionist dictator than we are familiar with from recent accounts, with a flexibility of approach that often surprises. Whether it was foreign policy, war-making, terror, mass murder, cultural and religious affairs, or even mundane everyday matters, Longerich reveals how decisive a force Hitler was in the formulation of policy, sometimes right down to the smallest details, in a way which until now has not been fully appreciated. Consistently and ruthlessly destroying both the people and the power structures that stood in his way, Longerich shows how over time Hitler succeeded in forging his 'Fuhrer dictatorship' - with terrifying and almost limitless power over the German people.
An authentic account of one of the most pivotal battles of World War Two. The World War Two invasion known as D-Day was one of the largest military endeavours in history. It involved years of planning, total secrecy and not only soldiers but also sailors, paratroopers and many specialists. Acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson weaves together the contributions of key players in D-Day in a masterful tapestry of official documents, personal narratives and archival photos to provide an action-packed and authentic account.
THE SUNDAY TIMES NON FICTION BESTSELLER WHSmith NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2018 'The best book you will ever read about Britain's greatest warplane.' Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of Fighter Boys. 'A rich and heartfelt tribute to this most iconic British machine. By focussing on the men (and women) who flew the Spitfire, John Nichol has brought a fresh and powerful perspective to the story. And by recording their bravery, humility, camaraderie, tragedy and sheer joy in flying their beloved Spits he has done them - and us - a valuable service' Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 607 'As the RAF marks its centenary, Nichol has created a thrilling and often moving tribute to some of its greatest heroes.' Jon Dennis, Mail on Sunday magazine. 'A stirring portrait of a piece of aviation art in motion flown by the bravest of the brave. Nichol's Spitfire is still a sky-borne prima ballerina that kicks like Bruce Lee.' RAF News 'A superb and compelling book. Brilliantly written with some incredible and astonishing stories; it is gripping, moving, emotional and sometimes humorous - just perfect' Squadron Leader (Ret) Clive Rowley, former Officer Commanding RAF Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight 'A superb journey through the remarkable tale of that British icon, the Spitfire. Brilliantly and engagingly written, this is the most readable story of the aircraft and her pilots that I have ever had the pleasure to read in a period spanning some forty-odd years of personal study and research. Truly stunning.' Andy Saunders, Editor, Britain at War Magazine. The perfect complementary narrative to the bestselling memoir by Geoffrey Wellum - First Light. Achtung, Spitfire! The iconic Spitfire found fame during the darkest early days of World War II. But what happened to the redoubtable fighter and its crews beyond the Battle of Britain, and why is it still so loved today? In late spring 1940, Nazi Germany's domination of Europe had looked unstoppable. With the British Isles in easy reach since the fall of France, Adolf Hitler was convinced that Great Britain would be defeated in the skies over her southern coast, confident his Messerschmitts and Heinkels would outclass anything the Royal Air Force threw at them. What Hitler hadn't planned for was the agility and resilience of a marvel of British engineering that would quickly pass into legend - the Spitfire. Bestselling author John Nichol's passionate portrait of this magnificent fighter aircraft, its many innovations and updates, and the people who flew and loved them, carries the reader beyond the dogfights over Kent and Sussex. Spanning the full global reach of the Spitfire's deployment during WWII, from Malta to North Africa and the Far East, then over the D-Day beaches, it is always accessible, effortlessly entertaining and full of extraordinary spirit. Here are edge-of-the-seat stories and heart-stopping first-hand accounts of battling pilots forced to bail out over occupied territory; of sacrifice and wartime love; of aristocratic female flyers, and of the mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the aircraft in battle-ready condition. Nichol takes the reader on a hair-raising, nail-biting and moving wartime history of the iconic Spitfire populated by a cast of redoubtable, heroic characters that make you want to stand up and cheer.
'I had thought that for me there could never again be any elation in war. But I had reckoned without the liberation of Paris - I had reckoned without remembering that I might be a part of that richly historic day. We were in Paris on the first day - one of the great days of all time.' (Ernie Pyle, US war correspondent) The liberation of Paris was a momentous point in twentieth-century history, yet it is now largely forgotten outside France. Eleven Days in August is a pulsating hour-by-hour reconstruction of these tumultuous events that shaped the final phase of the war and the future of France, told with the pace of a thriller. While examining the conflicting national and international interests that played out in the bloody street fighting, it tells of how, in eleven dramatic days, people lived, fought and died in the most beautiful city in the world. Based largely on unpublished archive material, including secret conversations, coded messages, diaries and eyewitness accounts, Eleven Days in August shows how these August days were experienced in very different ways by ordinary Parisians, Resistance fighters, French collaborators, rank-and-file German soldiers, Allied and French spies, the Allied and German High Commands. Above all, it shows that while the liberation of Paris may be attributed to the audacity of the Resistance, the weakness of the Germans and the strength of the Allies, the key to it all was the Parisians who by turn built street barricades and sunbathed on the banks of the Seine, who fought the Germans and simply tried to survive until the Germans finally surrendered, in a billiard room at the Prefecture of Police. One of the most iconic moments in the history of the twentieth century had come to a close, and the face of Paris would never be the same again.
'A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book - told with tremendous pace and excitement' William Boyd 'This compelling and complete account of the extraordinarily courageous women of SOE is at turns enthralling, edge-of-smart exciting and also heart-breaking. The way in which they were sent into Nazi-occupied Europe and left to face unspeakable danger remains astonishing and Stroud's book is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery.' James Holland On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle broadcast from London to his countrymen in France about the catastrophe that had overtaken their nation - the victory of the invading Germans. He declared 'Is defeat final? No! . . . the flame of French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished'. The Resistance began almost immediately. At first it was made up of small, disorganised groups working in isolation. But by the time of the liberation in 1944 around 400,000 French citizens, nearly 2 per cent of the population, were involved. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and organising guerrilla fighters; supplying and training them; and then disrupting the invaders by any means necessary. The basic SOE unit was a team of three: a leader, a wireless operator and a courier. These teams operated in Resistance circuits and the agents were given random codenames. The aim of this work was to prepare for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces and the eventual liberation of France. It was soon decided that women would play a vital role. There were 39 female agents recruited from all walks of life, ranging from a London shop assistant to a Polish aristocrat. What linked them was that they knew France well, were fluent in French and were prepared to sacrifice everything to help defeat the enemy. The women trained alongside the men, learning how to disappear into the background, how to operate a radio transmitter and how to kill a man with their bare hands. Once trained they were infiltrated behind the lines by parachute or tiny aircraft that could land in remote fields. Some of the women went on to lead thousands of Resistance fighters, while others were arrested, brutally interrogated and sent to concentration camps where they endured torment and death. Lonely Courage tells their story and sheds light on what life was really like for these brave women who tumbled from the sky.
Lives Reclaimed tells an extraordinary story of resistance against the Nazi regime and help for Jews in the Third Reich. Still largely unknown today, 'The Bund' were a small left-wing group based in Germany's industrial heartland. Initially preoccupied with surviving the Nazi onslaught and adapting to clandestine life under a dictatorship, in 1938 the men and women of the Bund were shocked by the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht into reaching out to their Jewish neighbours. Using an unparalleled trove of previously undiscovered private papers, Mark Roseman places support for Jews under the shadow of Nazism in a completely new light, exploring the striking palette of gestures and actions that proved possible even in Nazi Germany - from simple symbolic acts of solidarity, through sending parcels to the Polish ghettos and Theresienstadt, to providing false identities and hiding people on the run. In doing so, he uncovers the challenges of living and acting under a dictatorship when neighbours and acquaintances might be as great a threat as the Gestapo, and examines the experiences of those assisted by the group, as they hid in plain sight, moving from address to address. Throughout, we are prompted to ask what drove and equipped the Bund to step into the broken glass of Kristallnacht, to visit Jewish organizations and Jewish barracks to ascertain local needs, to line up in the post-office with packages for Theresienstadt, or to brave a visit to the cells in a local police station with a message for imprisoned Jews? Although not the first book to tell the story of Jews saved from Nazi persecution, the story of the Bund is unique in the way it is able to pursue the choices, dilemmas, fears, and hopes of the helpers themselves, observing them through the changing conditions of both war and Holocaust.
'History's greatest story reinvigorated as only Alex Kershaw can' -Adam Makos, New York Times bestselling author of A Higher Call 'An absolute triumph' -James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and national bestselling author of Target Tokyo and Rampage 'The unforgettable human drama of history's most consequential invasion' -John C. McManus, author of The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day-The Big Red One at Omaha Beach Beginning in the pre-dawn darkness of June 6, 1944, The First Wave follows ten men attempting to carry out D-Day's most critical missions. Their actions would determine the fate of the invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europe. The ten make a charismatic, unforgettable cast. They include the first American paratrooper to touch down on Normandy soil; the only British soldier that day to earn a Victoria's Cross; the Canadian brothers who led their decimated troops onto Juno Beach under withering fire; the colonel who faced the powerful 150mm guns of the Merville Battery; as well as a French commando who helped destroy German strongholds on Sword Beach. The book will give authentic voice to the invaders' enemies, the German enlisted men and officers tasked with destroying the Allies as they hit the beaches. The result is an utterly immersive, adrenaline-driven drama, an epic of close combat and extraordinary heroism. It is the capstone Alex Kershaw's remarkable career, built on his close friendships with D-Day survivors and his intimate understanding of the Normandy battlefield. For the seventy-fifth anniversary, here is a fresh take on the Second World War's longest day. Praise for Alex Kershaw: 'From the opening pages, when Kershaw...drops us into the invasion of Paris, we know that we are in good hands. This is classic narrative nonfiction, constructed and written like a thriller.' Chicago Tribune 'Exceptional.... balances evocative prose with attention to detail and is a worthy addition to vibrant classics of small-unit history like Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers.' Wall Street Journal 'Kershaw's writing is seamless. He incorporates information from a vast array of sources, but it works--you get a sense of the different voices coming into the story....A gripping read.' Minneapolis Star Tribune
THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER THE EPIC TRUE STORY OF DUNKIRK - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE, WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN AND STARRING KENNETH BRANAGH, TOM HARDY AND MARK RYLANCE. In 1940, at the French port of Dunkirk, more than 300,000 trapped Allied troops were dramatically rescued from destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany by an extraordinary seaborne evacuation. The true history of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians involved in the nine-day skirmish has passed into legend. Now, the story Winston Churchill described as a 'miracle' is narrated by bestselling author Joshua Levine in its full, sweeping context, including new interviews with veterans and survivors. Told from the viewpoints of land, sea and air, Joshua Levine's Dunkirk is a dramatic account of a defeat that paved the way to ultimate victory and preserved liberty for generations to come.
A magisterial history of the greatest and most terrible event in history, from one of the finest historians of the Second World War. A book which shows the impact of war upon hundreds of millions of people around the world- soldiers, sailors and airmen; housewives, farm workers and children.. Reflecting Max Hastings's thirty-five years of research on World War II, All Hell Let Loose describes the course of events, but focuses chiefly upon human experience, which varied immensely from campaign to campaign, continent to continent. The author emphasises the Russian front, where more than 90% of all German soldiers who perished met their fate. He argues that, while Hitler's army often fought its battles brilliantly well, the Nazis conducted their war effort with 'stunning incompetence'. He suggests that the Royal Navy and US Navy were their countries' outstanding fighting services, while the industrial contribution of the United States was much more important to allied victory than that of the US Army. The book ranges across a vast canvas, from the agony of Poland amid the September 1939 Nazi invasion, to the 1943 Bengal famine, in which at least a million people died under British rule- and British neglect. Among many vignettes, there are the RAF's legendary raid on the Ruhr dams, the horrors of Arctic convoys, desert tank combat, jungle clashes. Some of Hastings's insights and judgements will surprise students of the conflict, while there are vivid descriptions of the tragedies and triumphs of a host of ordinary people, in uniform and out of it. 'The cliche is profoundly true', he says. 'The world between 1939 and 1945 saw some human beings plumb the depths of baseness, while others scaled the heights of courage and nobility'. This is 'everyman's story', an attempt to answer the question: 'What was the Second World War like ?', and also an overview of the big picture. Max Hastings employs the technique which has made many of his previous books best-sellers, combining top-down analysis and bottom-up testimony to explore the meaning of this vast conflict both for its participants and for posterity.
THE SUNDAY TIMES NON FICTION BESTSELLER 'The best book you will ever read about Britain's greatest warplane.' Patrick Bishop, bestselling author of Fighter Boys. 'A rich and heartfelt tribute to this most iconic British machine. By focussing on the men (and women) who flew the Spitfire, John Nichol has brought a fresh and powerful perspective to the story. And by recording their bravery, humility, camaraderie, tragedy and sheer joy in flying their beloved Spits he has done them - and us - a valuable service' Rowland White, bestselling author of Vulcan 607 'As the RAF marks its centenary, Nichol has created a thrilling and often moving tribute to some of its greatest heroes.' Jon Dennis, Mail on Sunday magazine. 'A stirring portrait of a piece of aviation art in motion flown by the bravest of the brave. Nichol's Spitfire is still a sky-borne prima ballerina that kicks like Bruce Lee.' The Royal Air Force Times. 'A superb and compelling book. Brilliantly written with some incredible and astonishing stories; it is gripping, moving, emotional and sometimes humorous - just perfect' Squadron Leader (Ret) Clive Rowley, former Officer Commanding RAF Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight 'A superb journey through the remarkable tale of that British icon, the Spitfire. Brilliantly and engagingly written, this is the most readable story of the aircraft and her pilots that I have ever had the pleasure to read in a period spanning some forty-odd years of personal study and research. Truly stunning.' Andy Saunders, Editor, Britain at War Magazine. The perfect complementary narrative to the bestselling memoir by Geoffrey Wellum - First Light. Achtung, Spitfire! The iconic Spitfire found fame during the darkest early days of World War II. But what happened to the redoubtable fighter and its crews beyond the Battle of Britain, and why is it still so loved today? In late spring 1940, Nazi Germany's domination of Europe had looked unstoppable. With the British Isles in easy reach since the fall of France, Adolf Hitler was convinced that Great Britain would be defeated in the skies over her southern coast, confident his Messerschmitts and Heinkels would outclass anything the Royal Air Force threw at them. What Hitler hadn't planned for was the agility and resilience of a marvel of British engineering that would quickly pass into legend - the Spitfire. Bestselling author John Nichol's passionate portrait of this magnificent fighter aircraft, its many innovations and updates, and the people who flew and loved them, carries the reader beyond the dogfights over Kent and Sussex. Spanning the full global reach of the Spitfire's deployment during WWII, from Malta to North Africa and the Far East, then over the D-Day beaches, it is always accessible, effortlessly entertaining and full of extraordinary spirit. Here are edge-of-the-seat stories and heart-stopping first-hand accounts of battling pilots forced to bail out over occupied territory; of sacrifice and wartime love; of aristocratic female flyers, and of the mechanics who braved the Nazi onslaught to keep the aircraft in battle-ready condition. Nichol takes the reader on a hair-raising, nail-biting and moving wartime history of the iconic Spitfire populated by a cast of redoubtable, heroic characters that make you want to stand up and cheer. John Nichol's new book, Lancaster: The Forging of a Very British Legend, is available for preorder now.
Follow the conflict of the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 in this unique volume, published in association with Imperial War Museums, London, featuring historical maps and photographs from their archives, and fascinating commentary from an expert historian. Over 150 maps tell the story of how this global war was fought. Types of maps featured: * Strategic maps showing theatres of war, frontiers and occupied territories * Maps covering key battles and offensives on major fronts * Planning and operations maps showing defences in detail * Propaganda and educational maps for the armed forces and general public * Maps showing dispositions of Allied and enemy forces * Bomber and V-weapon target maps Descriptions of key historical events accompany the maps, giving an illustrated history of the war from an expert historian. Key topics covered include * 1939: Invasion of Poland * 1940: German invasion of Low Countries & France * 1940: Battle of Britain & German invasion threat * Dec 1941: Pearl Harbor * 1942: Turning points: Midway, Alamein, Stalingrad * 1941-45: Barbarossa and the Eastern Front * The War at Sea * The advances to Jerusalem, Damascus and Baghdad * The War in the Air * 1944: Neptune & Overlord; D-Day & liberation of France
John 'Willy' Williams was a medical student and passionate surfer turned Squadron Leader and Second World War ace. In the Australian tradition, he insisted on fighting his war in non-regulation attire and led his squadron into air combat over Libya and Egypt dressed in sandals and shorts. Shot down in the Western Desert in 1942, he ended up a POW in Stalag Luft III near the German-Polish border. John was among the seventy-six POWs who tunnelled their way out of the supposedly escape-proof camp under the Germans' noses in what later became famous as the Great Escape. John and former schoolmate Reg 'Rusty' Keirath, together with two other POWs, made it to Czechoslovakia and were captured by the Gestapo. Hitler was so enraged by the Great Escape that he personally ordered the secret execution of fifty of the seventy-three captured men, in flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention. John, Rusty and their two friends were driven by the Gestapo deep into the forest near the town of Most and shot; John was just twenty-four years old. Despite the later war crimes investigation into the Great Escape murders, no one was ever brought to justice for the murders of the Most Four. John's niece Louise Williams has pieced together his life, from his upbringing in the Depression to his exploits in the air and the missing details of the tragic escape. It is a powerful and intimate story of one of the most dramatic episodes of World War II.
In the tradition of `Agent Zigzag' comes a breathtaking biography of WWII's `Scarlet Pimpernel' as fast-paced and emotionally intuitive as the best spy thrillers. This celebrates unsung hero Robert de La Rochefoucauld, an aristocrat turned anti-Nazi saboteur, and his exploits as a British Special Operations Executive-trained resistant When the Nazis invaded France during the Second World War and imprisoned his father, Robert de La Rochefoucauld - a scion of one of the oldest aristocratic families in France - escaped to England and trained in the dark arts of anarchy and combat. Under the guidance of SOE spies, he learned to crack safes, plant bombs and kill enemies with his bare hands. Then, back in France, he organised Resistance cells, killed Nazi officers and interfered with German missions. He survived unbearable torture and escaped Nazi confinement on not one but two occasions, to live well into his eighties. The adventures of de La Rochefoucauld offer rare insight into a unique moment in history, revealing brand new information about a network of commandos who battled evil and bravely worked together to change the course of history.
The powerful, heart-breaking memoir of Dita Kraus, the real-life Librarian of Auschwitz
Born in Prague to a Jewish family in 1929, Dita Kraus has lived through the most turbulent decades of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Here, Dita writes with startling clarity on the horrors and joys of a life delayed by the Holocaust. From her earliest memories and childhood friendships in Prague before the war, to the Nazi-occupation that saw her and her family sent to the Jewish ghetto at Terezín, to the unimaginable fear and bravery of her imprisonment in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and life after liberation.
Dita writes unflinchingly about the harsh conditions of the camps and her role as librarian of the precious books that her fellow prisoners managed to smuggle past the guards. But she also looks beyond the Holocaust – to the life she rebuilt after the war: her marriage to fellow survivor Otto B Kraus, a new life in Israel and the happiness and heartbreaks of motherhood.
Part of Dita's story was told in fictional form in the Sunday Times bestseller The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe. Her memoir tells the full story in her own words.
During World War II, the lives of millions of Americans lay precariously in the hands of a few brilliant scientists who raced to develop the first weapon of mass destruction. Elected officials gave the scientists free rein in the Manhattan Project without understanding the complexities and dangers involved in splitting the atom. The Manhattan Project was the first example of a new type of choice for congressmen, presidents, and other government officials: life and death on a national scale. From that moment, our government began fashioning public policy for issues of scientific development, discoveries, and inventions that could secure or threaten our existence and our future. But those same men and women had no training in such fields, did not understand the ramifications of the research, and relied on incomplete information to form potentially life-changing decisions. Through the story of the Manhattan Project, Neil J. Sullivan asks by what criteria the people in charge at the time made such critical decisions. He also ponders how similar judgments are reached today with similar incomprehension from those at the top as our society dives down the potential rabbit hole of bioengineering, nanotechnology, and scientific developments yet to come.
'Extraordinary...serious naval history and a detective story, told with passion.' The Times 'Vividly detailed...compelling yet comprehensive.' Los Angeles Times 'Simply outstanding.' Booklist (starred review) 'Gripping... This yarn has it all.' USA Today The sinking of the USS Indianapolis is still the biggest single loss of life at sea to be suffered by the United States navy. From a crew of 1,196 men, only 317 survived. Torpedoed by the Japanese, dying of thirst and eaten by sharks. For 70 years, the story of the USS Indianapolis has been told as a sinking story, or a shark story, or a story of military justice gone awry. But in Indianapolis, the true story of this mighty vessel is revealed. As the USS Arizona embodies the beginning of the Pacific war, the USS Indianapolis embodies its fiery end. From its bridge, Admiral Raymond Spruance devised and executed the island-hopping campaign that decimated Japan's Navy and Army. Its crew led the fleet from Pearl Harbour to the islands of Japan, notching an unbroken string of victories in an exotic and uncharted theatre of war. When the time came for President Harry S. Truman to deal Japan the decisive blow, Indianapolis answered the call. And super-spy Major Robert S. Furman climbed aboard, secreting the components of the world's first atomic bomb. Four days after delivering her ominous cargo to the island of Tinian, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine, with nearly 900 men lost. The captain, Charles B. McVay III, was wrongly court-martialled for negligence over the sinking. Decades after these events, the survivors of the Indianapolis, as well as the Japanese submarine commander who sank it, joined together to finally exonerate McVay.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER A masterly history of the Dambusters raid from bestselling and critically acclaimed Max Hastings. Operation Chastise, the overnight destruction of the Moehne and Eder dams in north-west Germany by the RAF's 617 Squadron, was an epic that has passed into Britain's national legend. Max Hastings grew up embracing the story, the classic 1955 movie and the memory of Guy Gibson, the 24-year-old wing-commander who won the VC leading the raid. In the 21st Century, however, Hastings urges that we should review the Dambusters in much more complex shades. The aircrew's heroism was wholly authentic, as was the brilliance of Barnes Wallis, who invented the 'bouncing bombs'. But commanders who promised their young fliers that success could shorten the war fantasised wildly. What Germans call the Moehnekatastrophe imposed on the Nazi war machine temporary disruption, rather than a crippling blow. Hastings vividly describes the evolution of Wallis' bomb, and of the squadron which broke the dams at the cost of devastating losses. But he also portrays in harrowing detail those swept away by the torrents. Some 1,400 civilians perished in the biblical floods that swept through the Moehne valley, more than half of them Russian and Polish women, slave labourers under Hitler. Ironically, Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris gained much of the credit, though he opposed Chastise as a distraction from his city-burning blitz. He also made what the author describes as the operation's biggest mistake - the failure to launch a conventional attack on the Nazis' huge post-raid repair operation, which could have transformed the impact of the dam breaches upon Ruhr industry. Chastise offers a fascinating retake on legend by a master of the art. Hastings sets the dams raid in the big picture of the bomber offensive and of the Second World War, with moving portraits of the young airmen, so many of whom died; of Barnes Wallis; the monstrous Harris; the tragic Guy Gibson, together with superb narrative of the action of one of the most extraordinary episodes in British history.
Forgotten is an extraordinary blend of military and social history - a story that pays tribute to the valour of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-Day have gone unrecognised to this day. In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation's highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in the Second World War. Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men. In England and Europe, they discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens - experiences they carried back to America, fuelling the budding civil rights movement. In telling the story of the Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.
(Previously published as 'After the Flood') Former RAF Tornado Navigator and Gulf War veteran John Nichol sets out on a personal journey to discover what happened to 617 Squadron after the flood. RAF 617 Squadron's destruction of the dams at the heart of the Ruhr made them heroes and celebrities of their time. But this elite squadron was also called upon for a hundred more of the most secret and dangerous specialist precision attacks. As bestselling author John Nichol discovers, 617 would drop the largest bombs ever built on battleships, railway bridges, secret weapon establishments, rockets sites and U-boat construction pens. They were involved in attempts on the lives of enemy leaders, both Hitler and Mussolini, created a 'false fleet' on D-day which fooled the Germans, and knocked out a German super gun which would have rained 600 shells an hour on London. Of the 77 men who made it home from dams raid, only 45 survived to see the victory for which they fought - as 617's reputation called them into action again and again.
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