10 books like Watching The World

By Raymond Clapper,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Watching The World. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The American Home Front

By Alistair Cooke,

Book cover of The American Home Front: 1941-1942

At the end of February 1942, British-born journalist Alistair Cooke set off upon a road trip across wartime America, to “see what the war had done to people.” His observations provide a series of fascinating snapshots of the home front in the early months of the war. Shortages of civilian goods showed up everywhere, from the West Virginia soda fountain with the forlorn sign over an orange-squeezer that read, “Regret. Out of Coca-Cola,” to Houston, where rubber and gas rationing led to overcrowding on city buses that threw whites and Blacks into unwonted jostling proximity.

On the West Coast, Cooke found that San Diego — flush with sailors on leave and recently-arrived workers in aircraft plants — was “the greatest boom-town since the Klondike”: “In the evening, roaming the bars and saloons, you see, alongside much healthy ribaldry among sailors and Marines fresh from the Pacific, plenty of saddening adult…

The American Home Front

By Alistair Cooke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The American Home Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In nearly three thousand BBC broadcasts over fifty-eight years, Alistair Cooke reported on America, illuminating our country for a global audience. He was one of the most widely read and widely heard chroniclers of America—the Twentieth Century’s de Tocqueville. Cooke died in 2004, but shortly before he passed away a long-forgotten manuscript resurfaced in a closet in his New York apartment. It was a travelogue of America during the early days of World War II that had sat there for sixty years. Published to stellar reviews in 2006, though “somewhat past deadline,” Cooke’s The American Home Front is a “valentine…


One Man's Meat

By E.B. White,

Book cover of One Man's Meat

No one wrote better than E. B. White, and no one captured the essence of daily life on the home front better than White in this collection of essays. “This is my country and my night,” he wrote from his farm in Maine, “this is the blacked-out ending to the day, the way they end a skit in a revue.” Yet White acknowledged that it was nearly impossible for him or anyone else to truly convey all the ways that the war was changing ordinary Americans. “You write something that sounds informative, throwing the words around in the usual manner, then the thing explodes in your hands, and you look down at your hands,” he explained. “As though you had crushed a light bulb and were bleeding slightly.”

One Man's Meat

By E.B. White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Man's Meat can best be described as a primer of a countryman's lessons a timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style.


State of the Nation

By John Dos Passos,

Book cover of State of the Nation

Reading Dos Passos’ account of his own travels across wartime America is a valuable corrective to the long-standing myth of a united home front, with civilians cheerfully sacrificing for the boys overseas. Instead, Dos Passos found rising rates of worker absenteeism in defense plants, management executives turning blind eyes to defects in airplanes in the name of profits, and lonely wives of defense workers living in makeshift housing going “trailerwacky” for lack of companionship. And when coal miners walked out on strike in 1943, imperiling war production, one miner explained to Dos Passos that “it’s the tough guys make themselves respected in this man’s country, the tough guys an’ the big winds.”

State of the Nation

By John Dos Passos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked State of the Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Public Journal

By Max Lerner,

Book cover of Public Journal: Marginal Notes on Wartime America

A former philosophy professor who joined the staff of the illustrious New York newspaper PM following Pearl Harbor, Lerner provides a scholarly perspective on home front developments. “America at war,” he decided, “is an America torn from many of its moorings, in which everything is having to move at a quicker pace.” Among Lerner’s subjects are juvenile delinquency, especially the rise of teenage amateur prostitutes; women in wartime (“the men make war happen, but it happens to women”); and the increase in racial intolerance — not only against Japanese-Americans, but Mexicans and Jews as well.

Public Journal

By Max Lerner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Public Journal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Destructive Creation

By Mark R. Wilson,

Book cover of Destructive Creation: American Business and the Winning of World War II

You can’t understand today’s privatized military without this groundbreaking new book on the history of WWII and the military-industrial complex. Wilson’s political and economic history overturns celebratory myths of American business acumen winning the war. Instead, Wilson shows that the “arsenal of democracy” lay not in the private sector but in the massive public sector of military-owned and military-operated production facilities that churned out planes, tanks, bombs, and materiel. Government production angered American businessmen who had hoped to capture wartime profits and legitimacy. Corporate leaders and their allies resisted government production at every turn and launched political and public relations campaigns to hide the government’s scope and successes. The private sector’s battle to regain control of military production and services, Wilson shows, launched a long-term movement toward military privatization and outsourcing.

Destructive Creation

By Mark R. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Destructive Creation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War II, the United States helped vanquish the Axis powers by converting its enormous economic capacities into military might. Producing nearly two-thirds of all the munitions used by Allied forces, American industry became what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "the arsenal of democracy." Crucial in this effort were business leaders. Some of these captains of industry went to Washington to coordinate the mobilization, while others led their companies to churn out weapons. In this way, the private sector won the war-or so the story goes.
Based on new research in business and military archives, Destructive Creation shows that…


Roosevelt's Secret War

By Joseph E. Persico,

Book cover of Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

If you love reading the history of World War II espionage, Persico brings to life behind-the-scenes maneuvers that took America from an unwieldy group of intelligence-gathering organizations to the formidable Office of Strategic Services under Wild Bill Donovan. While examining all theaters of World War II rather than just the Third Reich, the author provides excellent insights into the specific challenges encountered in Hitler's realm. I particularly enjoyed learning how Roosevelt balanced the information coming from many sources and integrated that knowledge into an intelligent plan of action.

Roosevelt's Secret War

By Joseph E. Persico,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Despite all that has already been written on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Persico has uncovered a hitherto overlooked dimension of FDR's wartime leadership: his involvement in intelligence and espionage operations.

Roosevelt's Secret War is crowded with remarkable revelations:
-FDR wanted to bomb Tokyo before Pearl Harbor
-A defector from Hitler's inner circle reported directly to the Oval Office
-Roosevelt knew before any other world leader of Hitler's plan to invade Russia
-Roosevelt and Churchill concealed a disaster costing hundreds of British soldiers' lives in order to protect Ultra, the British codebreaking secret
-An unwitting Japanese diplomat provided the President with…


Citizens of London

By Lynne Olson,

Book cover of Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour

In the 1930s, Republicans across America heaped criticism on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, which they claimed would wither free enterprise and damage the economy. They labeled him a “socialist”—or worse.

Among the Republicans who broke with this broad Republican assault on FDR was John G. Winant, the Republican governor of New Hampshire. Winant gave up state politics to establish FDR’s Social Security program, and after the start of World War II Winant became FDR’s ambassador to London.

Winant’s courage, first in breaking with his party to join FDR, and then helping Winston Churchill and the British people fend off the Nazi assault, is part of Lynne Olson’s authoritative Citizens of London, the Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour.

Citizens of London

By Lynne Olson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Engaging and original, rich in anecdote and analysis, this is a terrific work of history.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion

The acclaimed author of Troublesome Young Men reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain. Each man formed close ties with Winston Churchill—so much so…


A Matter of Honor

By Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan,

Book cover of A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family’s Quest For Justice

Admiral Husband Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, was stationed in Honolulu in 1941 (and planning to play golf with Army Lieutenant General Walter Short, commander of US military installations, in the early morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941). In response to the outcry in the United States after the Pearl Harbor attack, Kimmel was relieved of his command and publicly accused of dereliction of duty because American forces were so ill-prepared for the Japanese attack. In this well-researched book, Summers and Swan conclude that military commanders in Washington and elsewhere failed to share intelligence information with Kimmel (and Short) and that Kimmel’s dismissal was nothing more than an attempt to find a scapegoat.

A Matter of Honor

By Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Matter of Honor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor-and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming. The Japanese onslaught on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 devastated Americans and precipitated entry into World War II. In the aftermath, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, was relieved of command, accused of negligence and dereliction of…


Wild Bill Donovan

By Douglas Waller,

Book cover of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage

Bill Donovan, recognized as a hero for rescuing his fellow soldiers at the front in World War I, was a rising star in the Republican Party, becoming assistant attorney general under Republican President Calvin Coolidge.

But in mid-1941, when many Republicans were condemning President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a warmonger, Donovan broke with them and supported FDR, urging him to create an intelligence agency to prepare the United States for a war against fascism.

In his insightful Wild Bill Donovan, Douglas Waller recounts Donovan’s bold decision to ally himself with FDR, rejecting partisan politics and instead prioritizing the defense of American democracy. FDR eventually named Donovan director of the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime spy agency that was a forerunner of today’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Wild Bill Donovan

By Douglas Waller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wild Bill Donovan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Entertaining history…Donovan was a combination of bold innovator and imprudent rule bender, which made him not only a remarkable wartime leader but also an extraordinary figure in American history” (The New York Times Book Review).

He was one of America’s most exciting and secretive generals—the man Franklin Roosevelt made his top spy in World War II. A mythic figure whose legacy is still intensely debated, “Wild Bill” Donovan was director of the Office of Strategic Services (the country’s first national intelligence agency) and the father of today’s CIA. Donovan introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on…


The Sacrifice of Singapore

By Michael Arnold,

Book cover of The Sacrifice of Singapore: Churchill's Biggest Blunder

The fate of Singapore was sealed long before the Japanese attack on Malaya in December 1941. The blame lay with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who refused to listen to warnings from military advisers to reinforce defences in Singapore and Malaya. Her was convinced the Japanese would never dare to attack a white power. Obsessed with beating Rommel, Churchill poured into the Middle East massive resources that should have gone to the Far East. However, when inevitably Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942, Churchill attempted to deflect criticism by accusing the defenders of spineless capitulation.

The Sacrifice of Singapore

By Michael Arnold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sacrifice of Singapore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fate of Singapore was sealed long before the Japanese attack in December 1941. The blame lay with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who refused to listen to warnings from military advisors to reinforce defences in Singapore/Malaya, convinced the Japanese would never dare to attack a white power . Obsessed with beating German General Erwin Rommel, he poured into the Middle East massive resources that should have gone to the Far East. However when, inevitably, Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942, Churchill attempted to deflect criticism by accusing the defenders there of spineless capitulation. Recently released information from…


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