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): ****

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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): ****

Book review: Submarine Warfare in the Atlantic

Submarine warfare in the Atlantic examines the submarine battle in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. Primarily, it looks at the German U-Boats and their attempt to cut the Allied supply line across the Atlantic, but it also looks at Allied submarines and the role they played. Designs as well as roles are looked at and the different approaches taken by each side are examined, with the Allies settling on a few designs and mass producing them, whilst the Germans were constantly looking at and trying new designs. There are far more detailed books about the Atlantic campaign below the waves (it’s a short book that I read in one go), but this offers an excellent overview into the role of submarines in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.

Rating (out of 5): ****

Book review: The Desert War 1940-1942

The Desert War 1940-1942 is from the Imperial War Museum and looks at the North African theatre of operations during World War II. It is looked at from an Allied perspective, as is to be expected with it having been written by the Imperial War Museum. It contains plenty of photographs taken in North Africa during the fighting and also numerous personal recounts from those involved. As well as examining various battles and pushes for victory, other aspects (such as how the soldiers relaxed away from the front lines and the role of aircraft) are also looked at and also contain personal recounts. An easily accessible and informative book.

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

Book review: Hitler’s War

Hitler’s War is an overview of World War II focusing on the actions of Adolf Hitler. The book charts how he became dictator, strengthened his position and the decisions he made across the different theatres throughout the war. Each chapter looks at a theatre and stage briefly, telling the narrative of party politics and how Hitler consolidates his power, rewarding those loyal to him at the expense of those in the army with an understanding of the situation. Due to the book covering Hitler’s rise to power, his pre-war years in control and the war, it is not incredibly detailed, but it does succeed in providing an excellent overview of Nazi Germany both before and during the war. I found the book to be very easy to read.

Rating (out of 5): ****