Being There

Being there, fighting alongside the Polish people – Eye-witnessing World War II History In Words and With Photographs

By Don DeNevi

For readers who revere enduring World War II literature as much as this Argunner reviewer,      a series of features recommending newly published books focusing upon events long forgotten. neglected, or still cloaked in mystery will be presented each week.

Although leading American and British military publishers print and put their well-written, well-researched, and well-presented new war titles in circulation each recent month, the general public rarely learns anything about their availability. Stunning, worthwhile books remain stacked in warehouses due to scarce advertising of any kind, and information designed to advance, and matter written to secure public attention, suffers. Meticulous, precise, heart-rending reportage returns to the shelves to collect dust.

In short, Argunner book reviewers will occasionally list titles of his choices considered nonpareil in columns he establishes for himself. This reviewer, hopefully, will continue to review a new, unique WWII book a week, journeying the reader into the past, revealing startling wartime events whose knowledge has hitherto been unknown. Of course, the traditional Argunner book review format will continue to be employed with those titles hot-off-the-presses from his six favorite war publishers, Casemate, Schiffer, Osprey, Naval Institute, McFarland, and University of Kansas. His commitment to his readers is to recommend only those books that deserve a place in cultivated historically minded home libraries.

Apropos of this, I offer readers the first of several columns before Christmas entitled, “This Reviewer’s Opinions:  Five Best World War II Book Buys For Christmas and the New Year” – – comments, criticisms, and suggestions for improvement always welcome. The three listed below are from Casemate, continuing from last week’s appreciation of the “The Polish Air Force At War – The Official History. 1943 – 1945”, Volume 2” by Jerzy Bogdan, Schiffer Publishing, 336 pages, $59.95.

  1.  “Poland’s Struggle – Before, During, and After the Second World War”, by Andrew Rawson, Casemate Publishing – Pen and Sword Books, Limited, 212 pages,  $34.95.

     Coupled with “The Polish Air Force At War”, author Rawson presentations of the critical facets of Poland under the German occupation and the secret warfare from the Polish undercover operations makes clear Poland’s devastating suffering. He begins with the aftermath of World War I and Poland’s struggle for independence between 1919 and 1939; the Nazi and Soviet simultaneous invasions; the annihilation of the Polish Jews and murders of Polish Christians; the underground resistance armies and Free Armies abroad, and how liberation turned into a nightmare of Communist tyranny in the post war years.

  •  “Hitler’s Death Camps In Occupied Poland – Rare Photographs From Wartime Archives”, IMAGES OF WAR”, by Ian Baxter, Casemate Publishing – Pen and Sword, Limited,122 pages, $26.95.

          Author Baxter traces the history of the Final Solution and the building and operation of the Operation Reinhard camps built for the sole purpose of mass murder and genocide. Over a hundred  black and white photographs zero in on Poland’s six main camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau; Belzec; Chelmno; Majdenak; Sobidor, and Treblinka. Unpleasant as it may be, the photos must be perused and studied lest the camps are reconstructed some day.

      3    “Poland & the Second World War, 1938 -48”, by Evan McGilvrary, Casemate Publishing – Pen and Sword, 344 pages, $39.95.

               The emphasis  of McGilvrary’s brilliant study and narration is the full story of Poland’s part in WW!! From failure of pre-war diplomacy and planning, through to betrayal by Allies leading to Civil War and Soviet Occupation in immediate post-war years. Especially welcomed are his inclusions of famous exploits of Polish forces in Exile such as the battles of Britain,  Tobruk, Monte Cassino, Normandy/Falaise and Arnhem. Also, he includes less-well known episodes such as role of the Carpathian Brigade in Italy and the Polish forces under Soviet command. Researched largely from Polish sources offer a unique perspective rarely seen in English account.

  • “Hunt the Bismarck – The Pursuit of Germany’s Most Famous Battleship”, by Angus    Konstam, Osprey Publishing, 336 pages, $28.50.

This sea battle on May 24, 1941, was one of the most sensational in all British Naval

History. A salvo of shells from from the Bismark sunk the HMS Hood, at a loss to the British of 1,415 crewmen. With the Bismarck, wounded, but nonetheless seaworthy and lose in the Atlantic to interrupt supplies from Canada and America, Churchill ordered the Bismarck sunk at all costs. Thus began one of the great naval pursuit in world naval history.

  •  “Rain of Steel – Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ugaki’s Thunder Gods, and the Kamikaze War Off Okinawa”, by Stephen L. Moore, Osprey Publishing, 427 pages, $35.

Moore’s superlative book follows US Navy and Marine carrier aviators in the desperate air battle to control the kamikazes directed by Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki. The battles that followed are related largely through the words and experiences of some of the last living U.S. fighter aces in World War II.

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