The best and most recent books on WW2 in Europe

Jeremy Black Author Of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps
By Jeremy Black

Who am I?

Jeremy Black is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European, and American political, diplomatic and military history but he has also published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture, and on the nature and uses of history itself.

I wrote...

A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

By Jeremy Black,

Book cover of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

What is my book about?

The First World War was marked by an exceptional expansion in the use and production of military cartography. But World War II took things even further, employing maps, charts, reconnaissance, and the systematic recording and processing of geographical and topographical information on an unprecedented scale. As Jeremy Black--one of the world's leading military and cartographic historians--convincingly shows in this lavish full-color book, it is impossible to understand the events and outcomes of the Second World War without deep reference to mapping at all levels. In World War II, maps themselves became the weapons.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sicily '43: The First Assault on Fortress Europe

Why did I love this book?

Holland is a talented scholar who has honed his skill in providing excellent campaign-level accounts of the war. Thus, among much else, his books include Fortress Malta (2003), The Battle of Britain (2010), Burma ’44 (2016), Normandy ’44 (2019), and this excellent study of the Anglo-American invasion of Sicily in 1943. Holland is particularly good at capturing the grittiness of war, and at adding the perspective of individual combatants without being trapped by it. Reads very well and provides a superb campaign-level account that is also tactically adroit.

By James Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sicily '43 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'James Holland is the best of the new generation of WW2 historians.' Sebastian Faulks
'Holland's skill lies in bringing these warriors to life with vivid prose.' The Times
Shortlisted for the 2021 British Army Military Book of the Year
This is the story of the biggest seaborne landing in history.

Codenamed Operation HUSKY, the assault on Sicily on 10 July 1943 remains the largest amphibious invasion ever mounted. That day, over 160,000 Allied troops were dropped from the sky or came ashore to begin the fight for Europe.

The subsequent thirty-eight-day Battle for Sicily was one of the most…

Book cover of Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45

Why did I love this book?

Much of what I have said about James Holland can also be said of his friend Peter Caddick-Adams, whose first-rate works include Monte Cassino. Ten Armies in Hell (2012), Sand and Steel: A New History of D-Day (2019), and this, by far the best book on the last major German offensive. Adroit at capturing the German perspective, Caddick-Adams is also very good on the American response. A lengthy read, but worth it.

By Peter Caddick-Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Snow and Steel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Snow and Steel is a huge reassessment of Hitler's last great throw of the dice: 'The Battle of the Bulge', the battle for the Ardennes 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945. This was an utterly fascinating five weeks when for a time it looked like Hitler had outflanked the allied armies pushing toward the Rhine and might just throw them back to the Normandy beaches. It is also the context for the catastrophic events at Bastogne depicted so graphically in Band of Brothers.

For military history fans this is one of those touchstone battles of the second world war,…

Book cover of First to Fight: The Polish War 1939

Why did I love this book?

A Major scholar of the period, Moorhouse is particularly instructive for his ability to capture the Eastern European perspective. The Polish war of 1939 has generally been underplayed in the literature, and it is particularly valuable therefore to see this well-researched account.

By Roger Moorhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked First to Fight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new and definitive account of the German invasion of Poland that initiated WWII in 1939, written by a historian at the height of his abilities.

'Deeply researched, very well-written... This book will be the standard work on the subject for many years to come' - Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

The Polish campaign is the forgotten story of the Second World War.

The war began on 1 September 1939, when German tanks, trucks and infantry crossed the Polish border, and the Luftwaffe began bombing Poland's towns and cities. The Polish army fought bravely but could not…

Book cover of Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe

Why did I love this book?

Already a published expert on air power, armour, and the Normandy campaign, Buckley went on to produce a well-considered and ably researched evaluation of the British army in 1944-5, one that rescued it from the deeply-flawed criticism by Max Hastings of its relative effectiveness.

By John Buckley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monty's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historian John Buckley offers a radical reappraisal of Great Britain's fighting forces during World War Two, challenging the common belief that the British Army was no match for the forces of Hitler's Germany. Following Britain's military commanders and troops across the battlefields of Europe, from D-Day to VE-Day, from the Normandy beaches to Arnhem and the Rhine, and, ultimately, to the Baltic, Buckley's provocative history demonstrates that the British Army was more than a match for the vaunted Nazi war machine. This fascinating revisionist study of the campaign to liberate Northern Europe in the war's final years features a large…

Book cover of The Red Army and the Second World War

Why did I love this book?

The Eastern Front has not always attracted the most readable scholarship, while two of the major works by British writers are by those who cannot read Russian. Hill is a welcome relief. His scholarship is impeccable and his book is readable. An important contribution.

By Alexander Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Red Army and the Second World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a definitive new account of the Soviet Union at war, Alexander Hill charts the development, successes and failures of the Red Army from the industrialisation of the Soviet Union in the late 1920s through to the end of the Great Patriotic War in May 1945. Setting military strategy and operations within a broader context that includes national mobilisation on a staggering scale, the book presents a comprehensive account of the origins and course of the war from the perspective of this key Allied power. Drawing on the latest archival research and a wealth of eyewitness testimony, Hill portrays the…

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Interested in World War 2, the German occupation of Europe, and Sicily?

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