#Tokyo45: The Final Days of World War II

The war in Europe ended in May, but it continues in the Pacific as Japan fights on. There doesn’t seem to be any hope of victory for Japan, but no surrender is forthcoming and America is gearing up to invade the Japanese mainland in what will undoubtedly be a bloody battle. The comes to a quick and sudden end with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But what would the key decision makers have been thinking at the time?

That’s what #Tokyo45 looks to imagine. In the form of tweets. Decision makers on all sides are given imaginary Twitter accounts and the narrative of the end of the war is told through tweets on a daily basis. The start of each day contains a short overview of a key decision maker or location. It’s a great way of presenting all sides of the story leading up to the dropping of the bombs and the aftermath of them.

Rating (out of 5): *****

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Viking Panzers: The German 5th SS Tank Regiment in the East in World War II

The book, as the title implies, follows the 5th SS Tank Regiment from 1942 until the end of the war. The book is made up of reports and diary entries from members of the regiment as well as maps and a narrative. The book can become hard to follow in places where it switches from one diary entry to another and it is not clear who it is from, but it offers an authoritative history of the regiment and flows from encounter to encounter seamlessly. Not a book that I would necessarily read again, but a different perspective to usual books about the war.

Rating (out of 5): ***

Air Force Blue

Air Force Blue examines the role played by the RAF during World War II. The state of the RAF prior to the outbreak of war is looked at and how the RAF was able to develop. Fighter Command and it’s role in preventing invasion along with Bomber Command and it’s role in attacking Germany are looked at. There is also a chapter on Coastal Command, who tend to get overlooked in favour of Fighter and Bomber Command.

The books is an excellent overview of how air power was key to victory in World War II and the role played by the RAF in achieving this. A very good book for anyone with an interest in World War II.

Six Months in 1945

The end of the Second World War is the subject of Six Months in 1945. Instead of focusing on the military defeats of Germany and Japan, the focus is on the changing relationship between the Big Three as they move from allies to enemies. The book starts with the Yalta conference and how the interpretation of the agreements reached affects events and the relationships through to the Potsdam conference and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.

As well as events and the agreements, Dodds also looks at the change in personnel amongst the Big Three leaders and the impact that this has as 1945 progresses. The main change is in the American presidency, with Churchill’s replacement coming at the end of the period focused on.

An interesting read that looks to chart how the wartime alliance led to the Cold War.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima

Shockwave: The Countdown to Hiroshima looks at the conclusion of the Manhattan Project and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The focus of the book is initially on the lead up to the test of the bomb at Los Alamos, but it also looks at the disagreements with the Japanese government as generals want to fight on, whilst politicians look for an end to the war. The successful test sees the atomic weapon picking up a momentum of its own until it is ready to be dropped. The assembly of the bomb and the mission is covered in great detail, along with the aftermath with accounts from residents of Hiroshima.

An detailed study of the closing days of the war in the Pacific and very readable.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Get Lenin

Get Lenin is set in World War II. Eva Molenaar is working for the British Secret Services, with the book detailing how she was recruited for them. It is learned that the German hierarchy are planning to steal the corpse of Lenin from the Russians to force them out of the war. Molenaar finds herself in with key German plotters and looks to prevent the corpse being stolen.

The first half of the book focuses on Molenaar’s history and how she was recruited for the British Secret Services. It also gives an overview of some of her earlier missions. The second half focuses on the German plot and Molenaar’s attempts to stop the theft. The pace quickens as the German plot develops and there is well-described action as the Germans look to succeed, whilst the Russian and British look to prevent a successful theft.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: Rommel

Rommel is a biography of Erwin Rommel, the German World War II commander. The biography, unsurprisingly, focuses on his campaign in North Africa with the Afrika Korps, but also looks at his life before World War II and his involvement in the war after Axis forces were defeated in North Africa. The biography shows Rommel to be carrying out his duty to his country and not influenced by Nazi propaganda. Rommel’s greatness as a commander is shown to be that he was able to react much quicker than opposing commanders, allowing him to exploit any opportunities that were opened up in an attack. Rommel’s proximity to the front line is given an a key reason as to why he was able to respond so quickly to events and shape battles. A good overview of one of the most famous commanders from World War II.

Rating (out of 5): ****