Historical reading for Flames of War
The books listed below are ones that I have read and recommend reading. I have purchased all the books listed under The Desert War and Western Europe.
Bierman & Smith "Alamein: War without Hate", Penguin
Books, London, 2003.
Excellent book that covers the big picture but also includes lots of personal stories to give a sense of involvement with the history. This makes the book very engaging. Despite the title it covers the entire war in North Africa, from the Italian invasion through to the Tunisia campaign. The only criticism is that it is too big (414 pages of text, plus 60 pages of end notes, bibliography and index), and could have been split into two volumes.
Recommended as an engaging and enjoyable read that will give you the background, history and flavour of the desert war. If you are only going to buy or read one book about the desert war, this is the one that I would recommend.
Dornan "The Last Man Standing: Herb Ashby and the Battle of El Alamein", Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2006. ISBN 978 1 74114 989 0
Herb Ashby was a rifleman of the 2/48th Battalion, of the Australian 9th Division. The book mainly covers the period of Tobruk and El Alamein. A fantastic read to give a sense of what life was like for an infantryman in an Australian Rifle Company.
Recommended reading for anyone interested in life for the PBI in the 8th Army. A must read for anyone playing an Australian Rifle Company. A must buy for any Australian citizen.
Mitcham "Rommel's Desert War: The Life and Death of the Afrika Korps"
Stackpole Books, USA, 2007. ISBN-10: 0-8117-3413-7
The author comes across as something of a Rommel fan. He also purports that the Germans were at a technological disadvantage for much of the desert war, having technical parity with the British tanks at the start and that they were outclassed by the Grant and Sherman tanks, and that only Rommel's brilliance led to the German successes.
If you can ignore the excessive enthusiasm for Rommel, the book is an excellent resource for the historical wargamer because it includes not just order of battle for the two sides for various campaigns, but also tables of the tank strengths. These are supported by an excellent bibliography and copious end notes.
Ambrose, Stephen "Pegasus Bridge" Pocket Books, UK, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-1-84739-762-1
An excellent book, that covers follows a single air landing company in the British 6th Airborne Division from their training 2 years before D-Day up to and including their D-Day mission to seize the Bénouville Bridge. They were the first unit to go into combat as a unit on D-Day. They were successful in their mission, and the bridge was later renamed “Pegasus Bridge” after their unit emblem.
An enjoyable read, and an inspiring book. After reading this book I decided to switch from collecting a British parachute company to an air landing company.
Ambrose, Stephen "Band of Brothers" Pocket Books, UK, 2001. ISBN-13:978-1-84739-759-1
The classic story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne. There is a well known HBO TV series based on the book. It tells their story from the formation of the Company and initial training, through the D-day landings and their actions up to the end of the war.
This book is a must read if collecting a US Parachute force, and well worth reading by anyone with an interest in WW2.
Winters, Dick "Beyond Band of Brothers" Ebury Press, UK, 2011. ISBN 9780091941581
Dick Winters was a platoon commander and later company commander of Easy Company (as featured in Band of Brothers). A fascinating story, and I enjoyed it even more than Band of Brothers. He tells his own story, and how it relates to Easy Company.
Highly recommended. After reading this book (and having some US parachutists from Open Fire), I decided to start collecting as US parachute company.
Frost, John "A Drop Too Many: A Paratrooper at Arnhem", Stackpole Books, USA, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8117-3486-8
John Frost's autobiography, including the Battle of Arnhem. Interesting insight into the life of a professional British soldier before and during WW2, and the history of the British airborne forces.
McKee, Alexander "The Race for the Rhine Bridges, 1940, 1944, 1945", Souvenir Press, London, 2001. ISBN 13: 9780285636033
This book covers both the German invasion in 1940 and the Allied campaign in 1944 and 1945. I found the coverage of the 1940 invasion fascinating, as I hadn't come across the details before. It also put the Market Garden campaign in a new light for me, and helped me understand why the British failed to break through to Arnhem.
An enjoyable read, and covers the entire Market Garden campaign rather than just the battle for Arnhem. Highly recommended.
Nichol and Rennell “Arnhem: The Battle for Survival”, Penguin, London,
Takes the viewpoint of the men on the ground and also the Dutch civilians. It tells the story of those involved in the battle, how the Dutch were eagerly waiting for the Allied liberation of their country, and how grateful they were to the airborne. However it was still a military disaster, and the Dutch were probably worse off after the battle than before. Includes endnotes and a bibliography.
The best book focused entirely on the Arnhem campaign that I have read. Somewhat depressing, but not as negative as "Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle".
Powell, Geoffrey "The Devil's Birthday: The Bridges to Arnhem 1944", Pen & Sword Books, UK, 2012. ISBN 1848846274
The book covers Market Garden, telling the story of the US 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne, and the British 1st Airborne Division as well as XXX Corps.
The author fought as a company commander in the British 1st Airborne, but also presents the stories of the Americans and the ground troops. The book tells the big picture story, rather than focusing on individuals. Recommended reading.
Zuehlke, Mark "Terrible Victory", Douglas & McIntyre, Canada, 2014. ISBN 978-1-77162-030-7
This book is subtitled "First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign: September 13 - November 6, 1944" which is a pretty good summary of what it is about.
Its the only book I've found which covers the Scheldt Estuary campaign, but it seems to do a good job of covering it. I found the book very interesting because I play a Canadian force from Battle Front's Market Garden book, which is a Scheldt Estuary force. Also I spent 3 weeks working in Vlissingen on Walcheren so I've seen the countryside.
I have read but did not purchase any of the books listed below.
Bessonov, Evgeni "Tank Rider: into the Reich with the Red Army",
Greenhill Books, London. ISBN 1-85367-554-7
The memoirs of a platoon (and often acting company) commander in the Soviet Army. A bit depressing with stories of poor leadership, equipment shortages, casualties from friendly fire and units reduced to sometimes 10% of their nominal strength but still fighting. However if you were playing Soviets it would be well worth a read.
Craig, William "Enemy at the Gates: The battle for Stalingrad", Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN 0 14 20 0000 0
The inspiration for the film. Well written, in an engaging style with
lots of personal accounts to bring the campaign to life. However as the
author states in his prologue "What happens is not pleasant reading... At
Stalingrad we are witness to monumental human tragedy".
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