Links, Films, Books, and More
World War II (1939-1945) was the largest international event of the twentieth century and one of the major turning points in U.S. and world history. In the six years between the invasion of Poland and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world was caught up in the most destructive war in history. Armed forces of more than seventeen million fought on the land, in the air, and on the sea. These resources and digital collections contain a wide and diverse selection of materials relating to this conflict and period.
- American Battle Graves
- American Battle Monuments Commission
- Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial
- U.S. Army Casualties Archive
- Army Corps of Engineers - Office of History
- Ben Myers Associations and Alumni Database
- Historic Government Publications from WWII
- NARA, College Park, Maryland
- National Archives Online Database
- NARA - St. Louis - Discharge Papers/Morning & Unit Reports
- Online Veterans & Military Documents
- Pathfinders Historical Consultants
- Pike Military Research
- Questia - World's Largest Online Library
- US Army War College
- U.S. Fallen Warriors
- United States Army Military History Institute
- WW2 Connections
- World War II POW Archive
- World War II U.S. Army Enlistment Archive
- Pictorial History of Fort Wolters
Essential World War II Books That Examine Every Angle of the Conflict
The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon
by Alex Kershaw
On a cold morning in December, 1944, deep in the Ardennes forest, a platoon of eighteen men under the command of twenty-year-old lieutenant Lyle Bouck were huddled in their foxholes trying desperately to keep warm. Suddenly, the early morning silence was broken by the roar of a huge artillery bombardment and the dreadful sound of approaching tanks. Hitler had launched his bold and risky offensive against the Allies-his "last gamble"-and the small American platoon was facing the main thrust of the entire German assault. Vastly outnumbered, they repulsed three German assaults in a fierce day-long battle, killing over five hundred German soldiers and defending a strategically vital hill. The epic story of the vastly outnumbered platoon that stopped Germany's leading assault in the Ardennes forest and prevented Hitler's most fearsome tanks from overtaking American positions.
Omaha Beach: D-Day, June 6, 1944
by Joseph Balkoski
Joseph Balkoski has crafted an amazing piece of literary history with "Omaha Beach". This book represents a serious amount of new scholarship and original research. Balkoski has done more than any other author to establish the crucial timeline of events, and has coupled this timeline with an intricate and invaluable series of detailed maps of Omaha Beach and the German defenses on the morning of June 6. Overall, the book is a tremendous tribute to the men who fought, and ultimately prevailed with great sacrifice, on Omaha Beach.
An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943
Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy
by Rick Atkinson
A comprehensive look at the 1942-1943 Allied invasion of North Africa in which author Rick Atkinson posits that the campaign was, along with the battles of Stalingrad and Midway, where the "Axis ... forever lost the initiative" and the "fable of 3rd Reich invincibility was dissolved." Additionally, it forestalled a premature and potentially disastrous cross-channel invasion of France and served as a grueling "testing ground" for an as-yet inexperienced American army. Lastly, by relegating Great Britain to what Atkinson calls the status of "junior partner" in the war effort, North Africa marked the beginning of American geopolitical hegemony. Winner of the Purlitzer Prize.
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944
Volume Two of the Liberation Trilogy
by Rick Atkinson
Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn in this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army's grassroots development from well-intentioned amateurs to the most formidable fighting force of World War II. The battles in Sicily and Italy developed the combat effectiveness and the emotional hardness of a U.S. Army increasingly constrained to bear the brunt of the Western allies' war effort, he argues. Demanding terrain, harsh climate and a formidable opponent confirmed the lesson of North Africa: the only way home was through the Germans: kill or be killed. Atkinson is pitilessly accurate demonstrating the errors and misjudgments of senior officers, Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, Gen. Mark Clark and their subordinates commanding corps and divisions. The price was paid in blood by the men at the sharp end: British and French, Indians and North Africans?above all, Americans. All that remained of the crew of one burned-out tank were the fillings of their teeth, for one example. The Mediterranean campaign is frequently dismissed by soldiers and scholars as a distraction from the essential objective of invading northern Europe. Atkinson makes a convincing case that it played a decisive role in breaking German power, forcing the Wehrmacht onto a defensive it could never abandon.
The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945
Volume Three of the Liberation Trilogy
by Rick Atkinson
It is the twentieth century's unrivaled epic: at a staggering price, the United States and its allies liberated Europe and vanquished Hitler. In the first two volumes of his bestselling Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson recounted how they fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now he tells the most dramatic story of all_the titanic battle for Western Europe. D-Day marked the commencement of the European war's final campaign, and Atkinson's riveting account of that bold gamble sets the pace for the masterly narrative that follows. The brutal fight in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, the disaster that was Operation Market Garden, the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and finally the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich.
The Good War: An Oral History of World War II
by Stud Terkel
The Good War for which Terkel won the Pulitzer Prize, is a testament not only to the experience of war but to the extraordinary skill of Terkel as interviewer. As always, Terkel's subjects are open and unrelenting in their analyses of themselves and their experiences, producing what People magazine has called "a splendid epic history of World War II." Terkel relives the personal tolls of World War II through interviews with soldiers, sailors and civilians alike. Providing unfiltered accounts from those directly affected by the war, both at home and on the front lines, Terkel allows the reader to experience what it truly meant to live through every facet of World War II.
Normandy '44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France
by James Holland
D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the seventy-six days of bitter fighting in Normandy that followed the Allied landing, have become the defining episode of World War II in the west—the object of books, films, television series, and documentaries. Yet as familiar as it is, as James Holland makes clear in his definitive history, many parts of the OVERLORD campaign, as it was known, are still shrouded in myth and assumed knowledge. Drawing freshly on widespread archives and on the testimonies of eye-witnesses, Holland relates the extraordinary planning that made Allied victory in France possible; indeed, the story of how hundreds of thousands of men, and mountains of material, were transported across the English Channel, is as dramatic a human achievement as any battlefield exploit. The brutal landings on the five beaches and subsequent battles across the plains and through the lanes and hedgerows of Normandy—a campaign that, in terms of daily casualties, was worse than any in World War I—come vividly to life in conferences where the strategic decisions of Eisenhower, Rommel, Montgomery, and other commanders were made, and through the memories of paratrooper Lieutenant Dick Winters of Easy Company, British corporal and tanker Reg Spittles, Thunderbolt pilot Archie Maltbie, German ordnance officer Hans Heinze, French resistance leader Robert Leblanc, and many others.
The Battle of the Huertgen Forest
by Charles MacDonald
The Battle of the Huertgen Forest, first published in 1963 and written by Official Department of the Army Historian Charles B. MacDonald, recounts the story of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. In September 1944, three months after the invasion of Normandy, Allied armies prepared to push German forces back into their homeland. Just south of the Belgian city of Aachen, elements of the U.S. First Army began an advance through the nearly impenetrable Huertgen Forest. Instead of retreating, as the Allied command anticipated, the German troops prepared an elaborate defense of Huertgen, resulting in intense battles involving tanks, infantry, and artillery. The battle for the forest ended in December, when a sudden German offensive through the Ardennes to the south forced Allied armies to fall back, regroup, and start their attack again ("The Battle of the Bulge"), and which eventually culminated in the collapse of the Nazi regime in May 1945. MacDonald, a captain in the U.S. Army at the time and a participant in the battle, portrays the American and German troops with empathy and demonstrates flaws in the American strategy and how the costly battles of Huertgen Forest could have been avoided altogether.
Lorraine 1944 : Patton Vs Manteuffel (Campaign Series, 75)
by Steven Zaloga
Osprey's examination of the confrontation between the US Army and German forces in Lorraine during World War II (1939-1945). In the wake of the defeat in Normandy in the summer of 1944, Hitler planned to stymie the Allied advance by cutting off Patton's Third Army in the Lorraine with a great Panzer offensive. But Patton's aggressive tactics continued to thwart German plans and led to a series of violent armored battles. The battle-hardened Wehrmacht confronted the better-equipped and better-trained US Army. The Germans managed to re-establish a fragile defensive line but could not stop the US Army from establishing bridgeheads over the Moselle along Germany's western frontier.
World War II: The Definitive Visual History from Blitzkrieg to the Atom Bomb
World War II: The Definitive Visual History is a comprehensive, authoritative, yet accessible guide to the people, politics, events, and lasting effects of World War II. Perhaps the most complex, frightening, and destructive event in global history, the Second World War saw the heights of human courage and the depth of human degradation. World War II presents a complete overview of the war, including the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, fascism, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, and the D-Day landings. This book also looks at the enduring effects of World War II during succeeding decades. Expanded with an all-new guide to battlefield and memorial sites and repackaged to honor the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, World War II: The Definitive Visual History covers key military figures, pivotal battles, political profiles, and strategies, as well as features on everyday life on the Home Front as ordinary citizens did their best to aid the war effort. Gallery spreads feature collections of uniforms, weapons, and other equipment. Maps, timelines, and side panels offer an inviting variety of entry point to the huge wealth of information.
D-Day and Beyond: The Things Our Fathers Saw—The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation-Volume V
by Matthew Rozell
From the bloody beach at Omaha through the hedgerow country of Normandy and beyond, American veterans of World War II--Army engineers and infantrymen, Coast Guardsmen and Navy sailors, tank gunners and glider pilots--sit down with you across the kitchen table and talk about what they saw and experienced, tales they may have never told anyone before. World War II brought out the worst in humanity, but it also brought out the best. In these arratives you will draw your own lessons. Here are the stories that a special generation of Americans told us for the future when we took the time to be still, to listen, and to draw strength.
The Miracle of Dunkirk
by Walter Lord
In May 1940, the remnants of the French and British armies, broken by Hitler’s blitzkrieg, retreated to Dunkirk. Hemmed in by overwhelming Nazi strength, the 338,000 men gathered on the beach were all that stood between Hitler and Western Europe. Crush them, and the path to Paris and London was clear. Unable to retreat any farther, the Allied soldiers set up defense positions and prayed for deliverance. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation on May 26, expecting to save no more than a handful of his men. But Britain would not let its soldiers down. Hundreds of fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and commercial vessels streamed into the Channel to back up the Royal Navy, and in a week nearly the entire army was ferried safely back to England. Based on interviews with hundreds of survivors and told by “a master narrator,” The Miracle of Dunkirk is a striking history of a week when the outcome of World War II hung in the balance (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.).
The Airborne in World War II: An Illustrated History of America's Paratroopers in Action
by Michael E. Haskew
D-Day, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge―the US Airborne divisions were integral at all these major points in World War II. But they also played a significant role in North Africa, where they first saw action, and in Italy in 1943. Right on the tail of these planes, this expert history follows the airborne divisions from the redesignation and initial training of the 82nd in 1942 through to their final, momentous missions in the Pacific. Featuring the equipment, division structure, and uniforms, as well as first-hand accounts, this book is the true history popularized by such titles as Band of Brothers, A Bridge Too Far, and The Dirty Dozen. With one hundred and sixty photographs, maps, and illustrations, The Airborne in World War II is an accessible account of remarkable men and the battles that they fought.
by John Hersey
On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" (The New York Times). Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told. His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima. Originally published in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker, this compassionate and richly observed portrait of six survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima caused an immediate sensation. It was the first–and only–time the magazine had devoted an entire issue to a single article. Newsstands sold out within hours, and radio stations interrupted their regular programming to broadcast readings of the complete text.
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
by E.B. Sledge
In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Even after intense training, he was shocked to be thrown into the battle of Peleliu, where “the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets.” By the time Sledge hit the hell of Okinawa, he was a combat vet, still filled with fear but no longer with panic.
Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill—and came to love—his fellow man.
“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge’s. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals’ safe accounts of—not the ‘good war’—but the worst war ever.”—Ken Burns
The Rise of Germany, 1939–1941: The War in the West
by James Holland
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.
The Allies Strike Back, 1941–1943: The War in the West
by James Holland
James Holland’s The Rise of Germany, the first volume in his War in the West trilogy, was widely praised for his impeccable research and lively narrative. Covering the dawn of World War II, it ended at a point when the Nazi war machine appeared to be unstoppable. The Allies Strike Back continues the narrative as Germany’s invasion of Russia unfolds in the east, while in the west, the Americans formally enter the war. In North Africa, following major setbacks at the hands of Rommel, the Allies storm to victory. Meanwhile, the bombing of Germany escalates, aiming to not only destroy the its military, industrial, and economic system, but also relentlessly crush civilian morale.
by Richard Tregaskis
On August 7, 1942, Allied forces, primarily US Marines, landed on the islands of Tulagi and Guadalcanal in the southwestern Pacific to fight back the encroaching Japanese army. The combined air, land, and sea assault was the first of its kind, marking the Allies’ first major offensive against the Empire of Japan in the Pacific theater. Volunteer combat correspondent Richard Tregaskis was one of just two journalists who witnessed the invasion. In this landmark work of war journalism, Tregaskis chronicles the harrowing experiences of the young marines who made the operation a success.
Enemy at the Gates
by William Craig
The siege of Stalingrad lasted five months, one week, and three days, from August 1942 - February 1943. Nearly two million men and women died, and the 6th Army was completely destroyed. Considered by many historians to be the turning point of World War II in Europe, the Soviet Army’s victory foreshadowed Hitler’s downfall and the rise of a communist superpower. Bestselling author William Craig spent five years researching this epic clash of military titans, traveling to three continents in order to review documents and interview hundreds of survivors. Enemy at the Gates is the enthralling, definitive account of one of the most important battles in world history.
Escape from Sobobor
by Richard Rashke
Lecturer and author Richard Rashke delivers a stirring account of the Sobibor uprising. On 14 October 1943, six hundred Jewish prisoners at a secret Nazi concentration camp in eastern Poland revolted against their captors. They killed some twelve SS officers, overpowered camp guards, broke through perimeter fencing, and fled across an open mine field toward the surrounding woods. Incredibly, approximately 300 resistance fighters made it into the forest—fifty of whom survived the war. Based on interviews with eighteen of those survivors, Escape from Sobibor is a tribute to courage and determination in the face of abject cruelty.
Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze
by Peter Harmsen
At its height, the Battle of Shanghai involved nearly a million Chinese and Japanese soldiers while sucking in three million civilians as unwilling spectators—and often victims. It turned what had been a Japanese imperialist adventure in China into a general war between the two oldest and proudest civilizations of the Far East. Ultimately, it led to Pearl Harbor and to seven decades of tumultuous history in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai was a pivotal event that helped define and shape the modern world.
In its sheer scale, the struggle for China’s largest city was a sinister forewarning of what was in store only a few years later in theaters around the world. It demonstrated how technology had given rise to new forms of warfare and had made old forms even more lethal. Amphibious landings, tank assaults, aerial dogfights, and—most important—urban combat all happened in Shanghai in 1937. It was a dress rehearsal for World War II—or, perhaps more correctly, it was the inaugural act in the war, the first major battle in the global conflict. Shanghai 1937 fills a gaping chasm in our understanding of the War of Resistance and the Second World War.
Big Week: The Biggest Air Battle of World War II
by James Holland
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.
The Cross of Lorraine; a combat history of the 79th Infantry Division, June 1942-December 1945
by Commanding General The 79th Infantry Division, Ira T. Wyche
The story of the 79th Division is fact, not fiction. The accomplishments set forth here are sufficient evidence that the individuals of the Division realized and accepted their several responsibilities. To our dear comrades who gave their all to bring about these great deeds let us do homage by renewing with ever greater vigor our determination to close with the enemy and exterminate him.
1942: The Year That Tried Men's Souls
by Winston Groom
On December 7, 1941, an unexpected attack on American territory pulled an unprepared country into a terrifying new brand of warfare. To the generation of Americans who lived through it, the Second World War was the defining event of the twentieth century, and the defining moments of that war were played out in the year 1942. This account covers the Allies’ relentless defeats as the Axis overran most of Europe, North Africa, and the Far East. But by midyear the tide began to turn. The United States finally went on the offensive in the Pacific. In the West, the British defeated Rommel’s panzer divisions at El Alamein while the US Army began to push the Germans out of North Africa. By the year’s end, the smell of victory was in the air. 1942, told with Winston Groom’s accomplished storyteller’s eye (Forest Gump), allows us into the admirals’ strategy rooms, onto the battlefronts, and into the heart of a nation at war.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Opening with the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion under Cpt. Miller fight ashore to secure a beachhead. Amidst the fighting, two brothers are killed in action. Earlier in New Guinea, a third brother is KIA. Their mother, Mrs. Ryan, is to receive all three of the grave telegrams on the same day. The United States Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, is given an opportunity to alleviate some of her grief when he learns of a fourth brother, Private James Ryan, and decides to send out 8 men (Cpt. Miller and select members from 2nd Rangers) to find him and bring him back home to his mother.
The Longest Day (1962)
John Wayne leads an all-star army (Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, Richard Burton, Robert Wagner, Rod Steiger, Sal Mineo and Sean Connery) in a sprawling Oscar winner that tells the gut-wrenching D-Day story from the dual perspectives of the Allies and the Germans.
Battle of Britain (1969)
The Royal Air Force keeps the Nazi Luftwaffe from crossing the English Channel and invading England. A must-watch for armchair pilots who live for aerial dogfights and vintage planes, and for fans of stars Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Laurence Olivier and Ian McShane.
Band of Brothers (2001)
This is the story of "E" Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their initial training starting in 1942 to the end of World War II. They parachuted behind enemy lines in the early hours of D-Day in support of the landings at Utah beach, participated in the liberation of Carentan and again parachuted into action during Operation Market Garden. They also liberated a concentration camp and were the first to enter Hitler's mountain retreat in Berchtesgarten. A fascinating tale of comradeship that is, in the end, a tale of ordinary men who did extraordinary things.
The World at War (1973)
The Ultimate Restored Edition is the definitive version of one of the greatest documentary series ever made. Each frame has been painstakingly restored and the audio enhanced and upgraded so that this is the best this award-winning series has ever looked and sounded. Now on Blu-ray this is the ultimate way to watch this classic series. Narrated by Laurence Olivier and first broadcast in 1973 when memories of the Second World War were still clear in people's minds and the war's veterans numerous, over 26 episodes this unique series assembled these recollections, together with archive footage, to create one of the most powerful and successful historical documentaries ever seen. The voices of those that fought, worked or watched during the war gave each episode a vivid sense of what it was like to be there and was the hallmark of the series.
In May and June 1940, four hundred thousand British and French soldiers are holed up in the French port town of Dunkirk. The only way out is via sea, and the Germans have air superiority, bombing the British soldiers and ships without much opposition. The situation looks dire and, in desperation, Britain sends civilian boats in addition to its hard-pressed Navy to try to evacuate the beleaguered forces. This is that story, seen through the eyes of a soldier amongst those trapped forces, two Royal Air Force fighter pilots, and a group of civilians on their boat, part of the evacuation fleet.
Bridge on the River Kwai
During WW II, allied POWs in a Japanese internment camp are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge, but under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson they're persuaded the bridge should be built to help morale, spirit. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of Japanese Commandant Colonel Saito, but soon they realise it's a monument to Nicholson, himself, as well as a form of collaboration with the enemy.
Letters from Iwo Jima
The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester amongst his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya), a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese Army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination.