Nonfiction November Week 3: Ask the Expert

We’re now in Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) of Nonfiction November. The topic is – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (RennieWhat’s Nonfiction)

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve read a few books on World War 2 and would love to find out more. I have read several novels set during the War, the most recent is V2 by Robert Harris, which has made realise how little I know about it. It is a vast subject and I know there are very many books both fiction and nonfiction about it. My difficulty is where to start!

These are some of the nonfiction books I’ve read/have waiting to be read:

  • Our Longest Days: a People’s History of the Second World War by the Writers of Mass Observation, which is fascinating.
  • Wartime Britain 1939 – 1945 by Juliet Gardiner – I’ve only read some of this book.
  • The Ration Book Diet by Mike Brown, Carol Harris and C J Jackson – social history.
  • Winston Churchill’s six volume History of the Second World War – these look particularly daunting in the amount of detail involved! I’ve start the first volume.
  • Band of Brothers by Stephen E Ambrose – I watched the entire HBO series called Band of Brothers. I started to read the book and stalled!
  • Great Escape Stories by Eric Williams – TBR
  • How the Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton – TBR

There are so many aspects to the war, so many countries involved, so many battles, people, places, politics, so many events that led up to the war, so many technological details and developments, etc, etc. Any suggestions of where to start will be much appreciated.

20 thoughts on “Nonfiction November Week 3: Ask the Expert

  1. I like it that several of your choices look at how WWII impacted ordinary people on the home front, Margaret. The war changed daily lives in a lot of ways, and I find that it really helps in understanding the war if we look at it through ordinary people’s eyes, if I can put it that way.

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  2. I’m fascinated with World War II, and I’ve read many fiction and nonfiction books about it. Some of the best nonfiction books I’ve read are: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz; Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II; Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption; and Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.”

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  3. I wouldn’t know where to start either. I’ve mostly read fiction about World War II. One aspect, I find fascinating is to read books taking place in different regions of the world. There were so many countries involved and their experience was all different. When it comes to nonfiction, I like to dive into specific, more concrete topics. I’ve read memoirs of people surviving concentration camps and I also want to dive further into code breakers.

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  4. There are so many things to read about in WWII, no wonder you’re finding it daunting! I’d say just start with something that actually holds your attention. There’s no need to slog through weighty tomes because you think you ‘should.’

    I loved A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead, Hitler and the Habsburgs by James Longo, Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson, When Books Went to War by Mollie Guptill Manning, and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.

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  5. No, I didn’t know where to start either so just found aspects that interested me such as the home front, the French Resistance, Germany in the 1930s leading up to the war, the role of women in the war, The Holocaust. Battles don’t really attract me to be honest. Like you I have a number of books on my tbr pile, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Provincial Lady in Wartime by E.M. Delafield, a reread of Anne Frank’s Diary, Night in the Front Line (WW2 short stories) and many more. I’ll be looking up some of yours too.

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    1. Thanks, Cath! Battles don’t really attract me either, but I’ll look up some of these – I’ve read All the Light We cannot See and Anne Frank’s Diary, but not the other books. I’ve also read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

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  6. A very big topic so I’m not surprised you are not sure where to begin. I know the Churchill books are comprehensive but I would also be daunted by them – probably too detailed for my interest. There is so much written about the war from a British/American perspective it might be interested to look for something from another country?

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  7. This is certainly a daunting topic. Several of my non-fiction reads this year have been memoirs from this time period. I particularly enjoyed No Woman’s World: From D-day to Berlin by Iris Carpenter, which is about the end of the war in Europe from a female journalist’s perspective, its also really interesting to see what it was like in these cities as they were liberated.

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  8. These is a great topic to read on! I’m always amazed at the many different ways people have covered WWII, from art theft in Monuments Men to more personal stories like The Splendid and the Vile, focused on Churchill and his family. Whenever I get burnt out on WWII, I find something new that draws me back in.

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  9. This is such a great idea for expert week! I like Katie’s point above that WWII has been covered from so many angles that there’s always something interesting to pull you back into it even if you feel like you’ve read a lot on it. Knowing where to start is a really tough one, I thought a lot about that but I’m not sure what I can tell you. I know books with a personal perspective that I found really illuminating and helpful in understanding elements of the war were A Woman in Berlin, an anonymous diary of a woman who lived through the Russian occupation of the city, Primo Levi’s memoirs like Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening, and Underground in Berlin, which was a fascinating perspective of a Jewish woman surviving the war “in plain sight”, as it were. Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War is an oral history of the women in the Red Army and it’s extraordinary, unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

    I hope you’ve gotten lots of good suggestions for this one!

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