Resources

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.



Research



Books

When the Odds Were Even: The Vosges Mountains Campaign, October 1944-January 1945
by Keith Bonn
The Vosges Mountains of northeastern France. Allied forces from the 7th US Army pitted against the vaunted, often overly hailed, but numerically superior Wehrmacht pierced the perimeter of Hitler's Army Group G. Keith Bonn conducts a complete analysis of the winter battle in When the Odds Were Even. While explaining the ground rules for comparing historical entities, Bonn offers a precise and thoroughly researched chronicle of the campaign from its initial successes in early October to the harsh fight for the Low Vosges in the closing days of 1944.



The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon
by Alex Kershaw
From the author of the best-selling The Bedford Boys, this is the remarkable story of America's most decorated platoon that miraculously halted Hitler's massive offensive at the Battle of the Bulge.




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 (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 (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 the American-led coalition fought through North Africa and Italy to the threshold of victory. Now, in The Guns at Last Light, he tells the most dramatic story of all—the titanic battle for Western Europe.



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.” With this volume Terkel expanded his scope to the global and the historical and the result is a masterpiece of oral history.



The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon
by Alex Kershaw
Alex Kershaw's latest foray into the WWII genre, is a quick, straight-forward read that tells the inspiring story of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance (I&R) Platoon, 394th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division. This small unit of US GI's can fairly be credited with one of the most significant defensive actions associated with the Battle of the Bulge - Hitler's last gamble to turn the tide of war in the West. Kershaw spins a riveting yarn of the eighteeen young men who battled until killed (2 members) or captured (the remainder) at the small Belgian town of Lanzerath on 16 December 1944 against an overwhelming force (1st Battalion, Fallschirmjager Regiment 9 - temporarily assigned to 1st SS-Panzer Division).



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.

The Battle of the Huertgen Forest provides a well-documented overview of the disposition, strengths, and weaknesses of American and German forces, as well as personal vignettes from both officers and foot-soldiers. With a depth of knowledge based on his own combat experiences, 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.



The Cross of Lorraine; a combat history of the 79th Infantry Division, June 1942-December 1945
by the 79th Infantry Division
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.



Cherbourg 1944: The first Allied victory in Normandy (Campaign)
by Steven Zaloga
Steven Zaloga offers up a rigorous and absorbing study of the first major Allied operation in Normandy after the D-Day landings - the capture of Cherbourg. Blending expert analysis, specially commissioned artwork and illustrative maps, this book tells the story of a quintessential example of Coastal attack and defense. Cherbourg was recognized by both The German and Allied High commands as crucial to the Allied foothold in Normandy - it was the nearest major port and was desperately needed by the Allies for major logistical operations to support their forces on long stretches of open beach. Hitler, on the other hand, declared Cherbourg to be a 'Festung' (fortress), a designation everyone knew to mean that its defenders were to fight to the last man. After a gruelling struggle involving several distinct tactical phases designed to overcome the different elements of Cherbourg's defence, the campaign resulted in a bittersweet Allied victory, the drama and significance of which are explained in full in this work.



Film

Cross of Lorraine (DVD)
A group of French soldiers during WWII are captured by Nazis troops and sent to a military prison. There they will have to make use of his best resources to keep alive... and sane, while at the same time scheming a way out.



Saving Private Ryan (DVD)
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 Bridge at Remagen (DVD)
The Allies are making their final advance into German territory, and only one strategic bridge on the Rhine River remains in Nazi hands. Both sides have much to gain: the Germans, the lives of 50,000 soldiers stationed on the wrong side of the bridge; and the Allies, a quicker end to the war with fewer lives lost. Though both armies would fight valiantly, only one could win the heart-rending battle for The Bridge at Remagen. With George Segal, Robert Vaughn, Ben Gazzara and E.G. Marshall.



Ike: Countdown to D-Day (DVD)
A&E did a great job of showing the delicate military and political maneuvers Eisenhower used to develop Operation Overlord. It follows the 90 terrifying days leading up to the invasion as Eisenhower decides the fates of thousands of soldiers while managing complex strategic relationships with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American General George S. Patton, Britain's Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and French President Charles de Gaulle. It was a time of no guarantees and certainly no second chances. In this climate, one man, Dwight Eisenhower, pulled the world's leaders together for one of history's most infamous battles.



The World at War (DVD)
THE WORLD AT WAR remains the definitive visual history of World War II. Narrated by Academy Award® winner Laurence Olivier and digitally re-mastered for DVD, this is epic history at its absolute best. A 26 hour-long program featuring an extraordinary collection of newsreel, propaganda, and home-movie footage drawn from the archives of 18 nations.



Band of Brothers (DVD)
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.