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The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945

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The vivid voices that speak from these pages are not those of historians or scholars. They are the voices of ordinary men and women who experienced--and helped to win--the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost. Focusing on the citizens of four towns-- Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Al The vivid voices that speak from these pages are not those of historians or scholars. They are the voices of ordinary men and women who experienced--and helped to win--the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost. Focusing on the citizens of four towns-- Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama;--The War follows more than forty people from 1941 to 1945. Woven largely from their memories, the compelling, unflinching narrative unfolds month by bloody month, with the outcome always in doubt. All the iconic events are here, from Pearl Harbor to the liberation of the concentration camps--but we also move among prisoners of war and Japanese American internees, defense workers and schoolchildren, and families who struggled simply to stay together while their men were shipped off to Europe, the Pacific, and North Africa. Enriched by maps and hundreds of photographs, including many never published before, this is an intimate, profoundly affecting chronicle of the war that shaped our world.


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The vivid voices that speak from these pages are not those of historians or scholars. They are the voices of ordinary men and women who experienced--and helped to win--the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost. Focusing on the citizens of four towns-- Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Al The vivid voices that speak from these pages are not those of historians or scholars. They are the voices of ordinary men and women who experienced--and helped to win--the most devastating war in history, in which between 50 and 60 million lives were lost. Focusing on the citizens of four towns-- Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama;--The War follows more than forty people from 1941 to 1945. Woven largely from their memories, the compelling, unflinching narrative unfolds month by bloody month, with the outcome always in doubt. All the iconic events are here, from Pearl Harbor to the liberation of the concentration camps--but we also move among prisoners of war and Japanese American internees, defense workers and schoolchildren, and families who struggled simply to stay together while their men were shipped off to Europe, the Pacific, and North Africa. Enriched by maps and hundreds of photographs, including many never published before, this is an intimate, profoundly affecting chronicle of the war that shaped our world.

30 review for The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    I haven't actually seen Ken Burns' PBS series The War to which this is a "companion book." The written work survives alone, but it did, at times, feel scattered. It's intended to give you a variety of perspectives from "everyday" people from across the United States, and it does manage to capture a wide range of voices. It's a good book (three stars is, after all, more than half), especially if you're looking for something short and sweeping. However, having recently read the likes o I haven't actually seen Ken Burns' PBS series The War to which this is a "companion book." The written work survives alone, but it did, at times, feel scattered. It's intended to give you a variety of perspectives from "everyday" people from across the United States, and it does manage to capture a wide range of voices. It's a good book (three stars is, after all, more than half), especially if you're looking for something short and sweeping. However, having recently read the likes of Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin , I found Burns' work to be lacking in the 'oomph' department. Some interesting things I learned and/or had not previously considered: 1. Decoy Tanks We used them. I think I remember hearing about this before, but there's something that seemed so human to me about the use of this type of warfare. It's at once classic misdirection (Sun Tzu has a thing or two to say about deception in The Art of War), and something I imagine Wile E. Coyote doing. However, Operation Fortitude played no small part in the success of the 1944 Normandy landings. 2. Clash of Commanders So I wouldn't necessarily say that that the leaders of the allied military forces were coming to fisticuffs (though Bernard Montgomery and Eisenhower had more than a few heated debates), but the sheer size (larger than life most would say) of figures such as Douglas MacArthur and George Patton that struck me this time around. From MacArthur's dramatic speech (I couldn't bear to excerpt it, so check out the link) to the people of the Philippines, to Patton's stopping to urinate in the Rhine River, these men came across as individuals of epic proportions. 3. Knowing Thy Enemy and the Saipan Suicides There's little I can really say about the death of hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers off of Suicide Cliff in Saipan. Though pop culture has long-remembered the Bushido Code, there is something different about hearing of women throwing their children into the abyss rather than face captivity at enemy hands (though, my recent Ryan readings are a good reminder that there is nothing uniquely Japanese about this). Bonus Round/Obscure Archer Tie-In With the macabre humor often used to get through life on the front lines, American soldiers took to calling the German Schrapnellmine or S-mine , which would detonate and spray shrapnel (going about one click per second) at what Burns tastefully refers to as "groin height," Bouncing Betties . The S-mine, of course, was a precursor to the American-made M18 Claymore Mine which should, among other things, always have its front toward the enemy if you don't want a thousand steel balls to shred [your] genitals.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    I listened to the audio version of this book on eight CDs. It's abridged, but I wouldn't have known it if it didn't say so on the case. This book gave me a very thorough education about World War II, "The Big Picture." I've read a lot about the war before, but it was usually about specific areas only. This book gave me a clear understanding of what was happening on all the different fronts (including the home front). It switches back and forth from Europe to the Pacific (and a little of Africa), I listened to the audio version of this book on eight CDs. It's abridged, but I wouldn't have known it if it didn't say so on the case. This book gave me a very thorough education about World War II, "The Big Picture." I've read a lot about the war before, but it was usually about specific areas only. This book gave me a clear understanding of what was happening on all the different fronts (including the home front). It switches back and forth from Europe to the Pacific (and a little of Africa), so I was able to see how all the different pieces fit together within the same time period. I also understand for the first time why our leaders felt it was necessary to drop "the bomb" on Japan. Not that it was right, but I see now how stubborn the Japanese leader was about refusing to surrender. The soldiers had to kill THEIR OWN women and children rather than allow them to surrender!

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Wonderfully done - informative, sometimes heartbreaking. The companion to the Ken Burns video documentary, which is every bit as good as the one he made on the Civil War almost a generation ago. As the title indicates, and like that earlier work, this tells the story of the war primarily from the point of view of the ordinary men and women who served in it and their families rather than of the heads of state, generals, and admirals on whom histories have more often focused. In this case, unlike Wonderfully done - informative, sometimes heartbreaking. The companion to the Ken Burns video documentary, which is every bit as good as the one he made on the Civil War almost a generation ago. As the title indicates, and like that earlier work, this tells the story of the war primarily from the point of view of the ordinary men and women who served in it and their families rather than of the heads of state, generals, and admirals on whom histories have more often focused. In this case, unlike what was possible for The Civil War, the story is enriched by extensive interviews with surviving participants, where the passage of time left only letters and photographs for the earlier war. This is somewhat in the philosophical tradition of Studs Terkel's "The Good War," and like that book, it presents the war as necessary while emphatically putting the quotation marks around "Good War" by showing the tragedy and brutality of it and making the point that there has never been a good war, although there have been wars like this one that were necessary and were the least of the available evils. I can't recommend this book and the documentary it accompanies strongly enough for anyone who wants to understand the most influential period of the 20th century for this country, and that should include all of us. If more history was presented this way, more people would take an interest in it, and we wouldn't live in a culture where more young people know who Madonna is than know whose side we were on in this war.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bert Hopkins

    Sobering account of World War II and its impact on four American cities/towns. We current Americans have no comprehension of the duration and suffering our forefathers endured during World War 2. My dad, Bert Crawford, participated in the Battle of the Atlantic, Invasion of North Africa, Invasion of Sicily, and the Invasion of Okinawa! His ships were the USS Earle, DD-635 and the USS Vestal, AR-4.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is reverse of the normal sequence as the book is actually based on the Ken Burns video series of the same name. The content and the quality of both is excellent. It follows some specific individuals and their experiences during the War in Europe and Asia. As expected, the book closely follows the movie series. Using this technique we get a look at how WWII started and ended and follows fighting men and POWs both military and civilian. A somewhat detailed overview of the entire war recommend This is reverse of the normal sequence as the book is actually based on the Ken Burns video series of the same name. The content and the quality of both is excellent. It follows some specific individuals and their experiences during the War in Europe and Asia. As expected, the book closely follows the movie series. Using this technique we get a look at how WWII started and ended and follows fighting men and POWs both military and civilian. A somewhat detailed overview of the entire war recommended for any WWII buffs.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    I can't imagine not giving this book anything less than 5 stars. Very moving and informative. I didn't want it to end. I wanted more information, more data, a bigger understanding of how this war touched the lives of these servicemen and their families.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Dawson

    The pictures were the best part. Other than that, nothing to write home about.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    This is a book about people. It is about the people who saved the world, but also the people and families behind the obvious historical monument. The first line of this book should be; I don’t know what you thought about those who obligated themselves and sacrificed to save the world but… It is books such as this, that grant a view of the humanity behind the history, that should be read and reread by all generations. Much of what occurs today is fashioned by those ignorant of the actual contributi This is a book about people. It is about the people who saved the world, but also the people and families behind the obvious historical monument. The first line of this book should be; I don’t know what you thought about those who obligated themselves and sacrificed to save the world but… It is books such as this, that grant a view of the humanity behind the history, that should be read and reread by all generations. Much of what occurs today is fashioned by those ignorant of the actual contributions individuals felt compelled to follow. It is of sacrifice and hardship, in the face of true evils and often moving forward even when the individual knows securing the world from tyrants and murderers, might very well cost them their chance to live in it themselves. This is of the people who did what had to be done, even when fear was greater than life. Do not miss this story, and other stories like it. They are essential to the soul.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    This book blew me away. I don't know what your American History classes were like in high school, but by the time June rolled around in my class, we hadn't made it past the Great Depression. Blame it on snow days or slow-witted students, but I know next to nothing about post-1930s history. Thank goodness a work project required me to read this book. THE WAR goes far beyond its service as a companion book to Ken Burns's upcoming PBS documentary—poring through startling photographs and unforgettab This book blew me away. I don't know what your American History classes were like in high school, but by the time June rolled around in my class, we hadn't made it past the Great Depression. Blame it on snow days or slow-witted students, but I know next to nothing about post-1930s history. Thank goodness a work project required me to read this book. THE WAR goes far beyond its service as a companion book to Ken Burns's upcoming PBS documentary—poring through startling photographs and unforgettable (and sometimes stomach-churning) first-hand accounts, I learned for the first time about what it was really like to live through "the good war." I almost can't believe it all happened, and I was left wondering what lessons could be learned from that war that can be applied to our current war. As far as I am concerned, this book should be considered required reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jack Lehnen

    A very good book and gives great individual insight into mens personal war as well as the larger picture. Missed the PBS series but it is coming out in CD soon . I watched the cD and was glad I read the book first. The book has things in it the CD series does not, and the CD goes a bit too fast through such important points and events in history

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Decent narrative of the war, interspersed with vignettes to make it more interesting/ personalized. But over all, mediocre. Abbreviated and very much failed to capture the same feeling, poignancy of the televised series. So, I say skip the book and watch the documentary instead.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    I recently started a volunteer position that is about an hour away from my house, so I am delving into the world of audio books. This is apparently an abridged version of the book, but you wouldn't know that without being told. Ken Burns narrates, with guest appearances by others, this 8 hour reading. It told the story of WWII through the lives of 4 people. It focused on their experiences, and the experiences of their families and people around them. They can be understood to represent the large I recently started a volunteer position that is about an hour away from my house, so I am delving into the world of audio books. This is apparently an abridged version of the book, but you wouldn't know that without being told. Ken Burns narrates, with guest appearances by others, this 8 hour reading. It told the story of WWII through the lives of 4 people. It focused on their experiences, and the experiences of their families and people around them. They can be understood to represent the larger experience of America. Admittedly, it is not entirely representative and would be impossible to try to fit all of WWII into one book. For example, the experience of African Americans is touched upon only briefly, women's experiences weren't explored in depth, but, the people chosen to follow were from various regions of the U.S. and I think they were trying to capture a geographical representation to a degree. It felt as much like a memorial, honoring those who fought and lived through the War as much as a history book. Specifically, it focused on the soldiers. Rather than portraying the "Great Men/Great Events" story of the war-following the heroics of generals, it showed the flaws of the Patton, MacArthur, and the rest, and the affect their choices had on the men they were commanding. I generally prefer the history of the "every man" to the GM/GE versions.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I've had this book for over a decade, but somehow never got around to reading it. I haven't seen the TV series, unfortunately. I finally decided to read it when I looked in it hoping to find a map (which I didn't) and decided I had to read it because of the amazing photos. I've read quite a bit of fiction on WWII as well as non-fiction. This book is amazing in the way it helped to integrate the two theaters fought in the war by telling of what happened in each consecutively rather than telling al I've had this book for over a decade, but somehow never got around to reading it. I haven't seen the TV series, unfortunately. I finally decided to read it when I looked in it hoping to find a map (which I didn't) and decided I had to read it because of the amazing photos. I've read quite a bit of fiction on WWII as well as non-fiction. This book is amazing in the way it helped to integrate the two theaters fought in the war by telling of what happened in each consecutively rather than telling all about the war in Europe and then the war in the Pacific. It also humanizes the war by following several ordinary soldiers, internees and some of the news people in a town in the U.S. were reading. The human cost of the war was brought home to me in a way that no other book has done. It doesn't take as long to read as the dates I started and finished might indicate. During that period my husband and I made two 9-day road trips and it was too big to lug around.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Don Heiman

    In 2007 Alfred Knopf published “The War: An Intimate History 1941-1945,”. This work is a written documentary that tells the story of World War II from the perspective of 40+ individuals who experienced the war as American pilots, infantry combatants, and media correspondents. The book underpins a 14 hour TV documentary film that captures the impact of war on the lives of Americans living in Sacramento Calif, Lucerne Minn, Waterbury Conn, and Mobile Ala. “The War’s Intimate History” will long inf In 2007 Alfred Knopf published “The War: An Intimate History 1941-1945,”. This work is a written documentary that tells the story of World War II from the perspective of 40+ individuals who experienced the war as American pilots, infantry combatants, and media correspondents. The book underpins a 14 hour TV documentary film that captures the impact of war on the lives of Americans living in Sacramento Calif, Lucerne Minn, Waterbury Conn, and Mobile Ala. “The War’s Intimate History” will long influence my understandings about the horrors of WW 2 and the effect it had on my grandparents, parents, and their baby boomer generation. The highly acclaimed book and TV series took 6 years to produce.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Listened to the audio, which I'm sure was abridged. Not really a history of the war, and if I hadn't already had a good fix on what happened when, I'd have been lost. Much, no, most, of the war just isn't covered, although it likely was better covered in the unabridged version. But what the book did very well was to use first person accounts of the battles and war experiences to highlight just how awful it was. For us today, the outcome of WWII seems to never have been in doubt. But this book ma Listened to the audio, which I'm sure was abridged. Not really a history of the war, and if I hadn't already had a good fix on what happened when, I'd have been lost. Much, no, most, of the war just isn't covered, although it likely was better covered in the unabridged version. But what the book did very well was to use first person accounts of the battles and war experiences to highlight just how awful it was. For us today, the outcome of WWII seems to never have been in doubt. But this book makes clear that for those who fought, it was.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimball

    This book was decent. Gave a general glazed overview of the war without too much detail. At the time of this writing, 1000 veterans of WW2 were dying each day. Both England and America agreed that if America entered the war they we need to attack Germany first and eliminate them because of their size and strength and only be on the defense against Japan until Germany was eliminated. 1 out of 5 Navy men died off the coast of Okinawa of the entire war. That Bataan Death March sounded like the worst I This book was decent. Gave a general glazed overview of the war without too much detail. At the time of this writing, 1000 veterans of WW2 were dying each day. Both England and America agreed that if America entered the war they we need to attack Germany first and eliminate them because of their size and strength and only be on the defense against Japan until Germany was eliminated. 1 out of 5 Navy men died off the coast of Okinawa of the entire war. That Bataan Death March sounded like the worst I need to learn more about what happened there.

  17. 5 out of 5

    P.S. Winn

    This is a great book and well done. The authors have brought to life a time in history that should never be forgotten. The pictures are amazing and the great information gives knowledge to all. Whether you lived through war, have family members that have, or are lucky enough not to have done that this book is one to grab.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    I believe the vast unfathomable carnage and ruin of this war surpassed all other wars in recorded history. I think the author does a great job illustrating this based on the journals and letters of a few GI's and civilians. This book is both sad and sobering. It offers a clear warning of the realities of war.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hearn

    I listened to the audio book version of this, read by Ken Burns, and as usual, it is well written and comprehensive. It was not as good as watching the series, and much as I love Mr Burns and all his works, reading aloud is not necessarily his forte. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Watched this series on DVD, while reading "Conduct under Fire", "Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor" and "The Pacific" . The DVD series put images to the stories from the other books, and provided an excellent timeline of events.

  21. 4 out of 5

    El Guapo

    Magnificent. "To forget such events would be both a travesty and immoral." Too bad it's hardly spoken about in schools anymore. Hope our future does not repeat the past. Would read again & again. Magnificent. "To forget such events would be both a travesty and immoral." Too bad it's hardly spoken about in schools anymore. Hope our future does not repeat the past. Would read again & again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dash

    You have to read this book! It puts into perspective the plight if war. We must never forget!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacki

    It was interesting would love to watch the series now... great learning experience

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Winkelman

    The audio book, read by Ken Burns, told compelling stories but was never gripping.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christi

    I ordered a personal copy for myself before I even finished this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    It's incredible what the people who fought World War Two had to endure.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Liptak

    Over the weekend, I picked up the companion book for Ken Burn’s The War, written by Burns and longtime collaborator Geoffrey C. Ward. The book, along with other companion books, is a literary mirror to the multiple hours long documentaries that Burns is well known for producing and writing. The War is a 14 hour long documentary that’s to air on PBS starting September 23rd. The book is an outstanding and highly detailed look at the Second World War. The War is practically comprehensive. Covering a Over the weekend, I picked up the companion book for Ken Burn’s The War, written by Burns and longtime collaborator Geoffrey C. Ward. The book, along with other companion books, is a literary mirror to the multiple hours long documentaries that Burns is well known for producing and writing. The War is a 14 hour long documentary that’s to air on PBS starting September 23rd. The book is an outstanding and highly detailed look at the Second World War. The War is practically comprehensive. Covering an exhaustive amount time, from the entry of the United States on December 8th after the attack on Pearl Harbor through to the extensive campaigns in Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranian and the Pacific and to the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Most books and authors hardly dare to cover that amount of ground in the amount of detail that this pair of authors go into. The War focuses on the entire campaign through the eyes of four towns in the United States- Luverne Minnesota, Sacramento California, Waterbury Conneticut and Mobile Alamaba. This is a war that is shown through the eyes of ordinary Americans, high school graduates and people who had hoped to serve their country in what is considered by many to be the last great war. However, from the start, Burns shows us that war is not great, no matter what the causes and reasons behind it. He opens with a quote: I don’t think there is such a thing as a good war. There are sometimes necessary wars. And I think one might way “just” wars. I never questioned the necessity of that war. And I still do not question it. It was something that had to be done. - Sam Hynes. This is the tone that the rest of the book follows. Burns sets out to show what war looks like, and backs it up with hundreds of photographs, throughout the 451 pages. Some of these pictures are familiar to history buffs. Others, most of them, are completely new to me, and they really show a side of the war that’s the same. The book also covers a lot of ground that doesn’t really get lumped together. The book not only covers the battlefields and the times that the soldiers spent on the ground between gunshots, but also the home front, from the woes of the families waiting to hear from their sons, fathers, children and husbands, the rationings, as well as the racial tensions among workers and the internment of African and Japanese decendants living in the United States, as well as their plight to get recognized as real people and soldiers. The book and presumably, the documentary along with it, are not without their flaws. While they provide some stunning work on the war, there are parts that are missing, mainly the years leading up to the US’s entry to the war. The book picks up and drops off with Japan, at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. There’s very little on the buildup of Japanese, Italian German agression, militarily and politically, as well as the Russian relations. Similarly, there’s very little on the aftermath of the war, which is one of the biggest factors in creating the modern world, after the United States and Russia carved up Europe that would essentially plunge the world in to another World conflict. But that’s not the focus of the book or documentary. This story looks at the war, but from the eyes of the soldiers. We get the personal stories of the people from those four towns. And they’ve done that spectacularly. The War is an outstanding work of popular history. With any luck, Burns will succeed in bringing the Second World War to a public that really only knows it through the films Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Windtalkers or Flags of Our Fathers, or the books of Stephen Ambrose. Hopefully, the War will be a much more accurate version of what happened those 60 years ago. Hopefully, it’ll go a long way towards telling the public those stories that will soon be lost. This is really something to check out. (Originally Printed: http://jeditrilobite.wordpress.com)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I’m not going to write much on this one, mainly because so much has been written about WWII and this book, while extremely well written, and very moving, really provides very little in the way of new information about the conflict. Like most mainstream looks at WWII this one does not ignore the scope of the tragedy, recognizing there is no such thing as a good war, but nevertheless views it through the lens of those who believe it was a “noble,” or “necessary” war. Certainly that is the majority I’m not going to write much on this one, mainly because so much has been written about WWII and this book, while extremely well written, and very moving, really provides very little in the way of new information about the conflict. Like most mainstream looks at WWII this one does not ignore the scope of the tragedy, recognizing there is no such thing as a good war, but nevertheless views it through the lens of those who believe it was a “noble,” or “necessary” war. Certainly that is the majority opinion in the United States and is one I share. Also, this looks at the conflict from a strictly American perspective. While the sacrifice of the Russians say, who lost far more on it’s battlefields than any other allied country, is recognized, the WWII of this work is for the most part an American affair. “The War,” written by Geoffrey C. Ward with Ken Burns, is the companion volume to the Ken Burns documentary series of the same name. Like the documentary it focuses on soldiers and civilians from four different communities in America – Luverne, MN; Mobile, AL; Sacramento, CA; and Waterbury, CT. The effects of the war on each community is movingly portrayed as each tried to cope with the deaths of young men who had so recently been in their midst. The experiences of soldiers from each community, who were represented in nearly every major action during the war is expertly described through the use of letters and diaries. In conjunction with a very coherent narrative describing the war from a larger, historical perspective, Ward has really done an excellent job of weaving together a complete look at the war from the top and bottom. Decisions made at the top are evidenced by the experiences of those at the bottom, and the actions of those at the bottom influenced the decisions of those at the top. Really well done. As usual with a work influenced by Ken Burns ironies abound. The most riveting was the story of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. A seventeen year old living in Hawaii when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Inouye’s first experience was helping move the dead and wounded from an aid center that had been hit accidentally by an American anti-aircraft shell; a gruesome task for a seventeen year old. Nevertheless, despite this horrific experience, and the discrimination practiced against “Nisei” – essentially Japanese of American descent – he joined the army and distinguished himself by his bravery. In Italy, despite being wounded multiple times, and having his arm nearly blown off, Inouye managed to fight off the enemy long enough to save the lives of many under his command. This action later earned him the Medal of Honor. After this fight that cost him his arm, and nearly his life, Inouye was cared for at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, MI. While there he met another soldier seriously wounded in combat who was being cared for at the hospital, Robert Dole of Kansas. He also met Phillip Hart of Michigan who had been wounded on D-Day. All three would end up serving together in the United States Senate, would remain life-long friends, and the Percy Jones Army Hospital would eventually be renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center. Geoffrey Ward is a gifted writer, his narrative style is smooth and coherent, and his prose is often very moving. If you are a scholar looking for a new interpretation of WWII, or a more detailed and comprehensive look at specific parts of it, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a good narrative of the war, one that emphasizes the impact of it on a human level this is a very good choice!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edalma

    The book is certainly fabulous.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    I enjoyed this work in audiobook format. This is supposed to be the book accompanying the documentary by Ken Burns on World War Two. Ken Burns in the early 90s made a documentary on the Civil War that was really good and here in this work he explains his reluctance to make another film on war given its horrific nature and also to be not put in a box as a war documentary film maker. However as he explained in the introduction that changed when he realized that a thousand veterans of World War Two I enjoyed this work in audiobook format. This is supposed to be the book accompanying the documentary by Ken Burns on World War Two. Ken Burns in the early 90s made a documentary on the Civil War that was really good and here in this work he explains his reluctance to make another film on war given its horrific nature and also to be not put in a box as a war documentary film maker. However as he explained in the introduction that changed when he realized that a thousand veterans of World War Two were dying every day he was compelled to do something so that future generations would understand what that generation did. The result is the documentary and this book. Again I enjoyed this work. The author Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward looked followed various citizens in four different towns in America—Luverne, Minnesota; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut and Mobile, Alabama. The individuals they were able to cover was much broader than I anticipated, covering civilians and different members of the Armed Forces. The start of the book gets exciting right away when we read of those early days in 1941 with survivors account of the attack of Pearl Harbor, civilian reaction back in the Continental United States and American civilians in the Philippines who were later prisoner of war. The authors are to be commended in their capturing of the issues of race at that time from the unfortunate Japanese American being forced into internment camp at the time to black migration to Mobile, Alabama to work in the factories producing equipment for the military and the tension that this produced. The book also discusses ethnic minorities in the military such as the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of Japanese Americans fighting in Europe and also African Americans and their desire to fight in the military such as the Marine Corps. The book covers both the European theatre of conflict as well as the Pacific and I enjoyed also how they weaved both of them back and forth while also discussing what the news of the war meant at that time. I learned a lot from this book and I never knew how hard 1945 was for America with the news of increasing casualties in both side of the globe while the military having to cope with the surprising resistance of the enemies in their final days. Readers and listeners will also hear accounts from Marine Eugene Sledge, whose story is told in the HBO series “The Pacific” based upon Sledge’s book With the Old Breed. This work made me appreciate what the people of the Greatest Generation went through.

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