Interesting Books (non-fiction & non-technical)
This page describes some books that I find particularily interesting.
Hopefully, you'll find some of them interesting also.
I've read a lot of books and I've enjoyed most of them.
Consequently, this page will almost certainly never be finished.
I'll try to add to it from time to time.
I've included ISBN numbers where I know them (some of my books are too
old to have ISBN numbers on them).
Please click on the category that you are interested in
History of the Second World War
- Sir Winston Spencer Churchill's six volume history of the Second World
War is probably one of the most definitive books on the subject.
Churchill's knowledge of the subject matter, his understanding
of the importance of history and his writing style combine to make these
a truly excellent read (give yourself some time - there are well over
4,000 pages in the six volume set).
Although a fair bit of coverage of events in the Pacific are included
(i.e. the war with Japan), the books describe the war from Churchill's
perspective (i.e. the emphasis is on the war with Germany).
Finally, some readers will be suprised to discover that the Second World
War started somewhat earlier than December 7th, 1941 . . .
One point worth mentioning:
although revelations of matters that were still secret when the books were
written (eg. the Ultra secret) make some parts of the
books obsolete, it must be kept in mind that the books were written by
someone who already knew essentially all of these secrets. Although he
may be unable for security reasons to explain the true motivation behind
some of the events and decisions described in the book, he still manages
to convey the essence of the events.
The entire set is copyrighted and published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
The copyright date for each volume appears in parentheses after each title below.
The books in the set are:
- The Gathering Storm (© 1948).
The lead up to and early stages of the war.
The book ends on May 10th, 1940 (the start of the invasion of the
Low Countries and France and the day that Churchill becomes Prime Minister).
- Their Finest Hour (© 1949).
Primarily covers the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain.
- The Grand Alliance (© 1950).
The events of 1941 including the Balkans, Greece, Russia, North
Africa and Pearl Harbor.
- The Hinge of Fate (© 1950).
Covers 1942 and early 1943 starting with the early Japanese victories and
ending with the elimination of German forces in North Africa.
- Closing the Ring (© 1951).
The remainder of 1943 and 1944 up to June 5th - the eve of D-day.
- Triumph and Tragedy (© 1953).
D-day through to the end of the war in Europe, ending in the middle of
the Potsdam Conference on July 25th, 1945 with Churchill's defeat at
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich;
by William L. Shirer;
published by Simon and Schuster;
Copyright © 1959, 1960 William L. Shirer.
A history of Nazi Germany starting with the end of the First
World War and ending with the defeat of Germany on May 8th, 1945.
Includes a brief (two and a half page) epilogue outlining the arrest,
trial, and in some cases, execution of the leading Nazis.
A truly excellent book which provides a view of the
war from both the Allied and Axis perspectives.
- The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad;
by Harrison E. Salisbury;
published by Harper and Row;
Copyright © 1969 Harrison E. Salisbury.
A history of the siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany during the Second
The siege lasted roughly 900 days and resulted in at least 1,000,000 deaths.
- Churchill: an unruly life;
by Norman Rose;
published by Simon & Schuster;
Copyright © 1994 Norman Rose;
A one volume biography of Winston Churchill.
- The Anatomy of the Nuremburg Trials;
by Telford Taylor;
published by Little, Brown and Company;
Copyright © 1992 by Telford Taylor;
The history of probably the most significant trial of the
Twentieth Century in which the key surviving Nazis are called upon to
account for their actions.
Although these books also document the Second World War, their focus
is on one of the most horrible events in human history and, as such,
I think a separate section is appropriate.
In case there is any doubt, here are
some of my views on the Holocaust.
- The Diary of a Young Girl;
by Anne Frank; published by Doubleday;
Copyright 1952 by Otto H. Frank and by the American Jewish Committee.
This book is a diary written by a young Jewish girl living in Holland.
The diary starts on June 14, 1942 shortly before thirteen year old
Anne and her family go into hiding from the Nazis.
It ends on August 1, 1944.
Anne's hiding place was raided by the Nazis on August 4, 1944.
Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March of 1945.
Required reading for anyone over the age of about fifteen (I specify
an age because causing bad dreams in younger children seems pointless).
- Schindler's List a novel;
by Thomas Keneally;
published by Simon & Schuster;
Copyright © 1982 Hemisphere Publishers, Ltd.;
The biography of Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party who risked
his life to save roughly 1,000 Jews from certain death at the hands of
the Nazis during the Second World War.
Although written in novel form (i.e. telling a story), this is not
a work of fiction.
When I finished the book, I was absolutely livid with anger at the Nazis
- something that I've never experienced before or since from a book.
A truly excellent read which should also be required reading for anyone
over the age of about fifteen.
Stephen Spielberg has turned this book into an excellent motion picture
by the same name.
The movie lacks the depth of the book simply because nobody would go to
a ten hour movie!
- "The Good Old Days" The Holocaust as Seen by its
Perpetrators and Bystanders;
edited by Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, and Volker Riess;
published by Konecky & Konecky;
Copyright © 1988 by S. Fischer Verlag GmbH,
English Translation copyright © 1991 by Deborah Burnstone;
This book is a compilation of material taken from the diaries, photo
albums, letters and memorabilia produced by the perpetrators and
bystanders of the Holocaust.
One of the most disturbing parts of the book for me was their reproduction
of the so-called Jäger Report.
This document, titled Complete List of Executions Carried Out
in the EK 3 Area up to 1 December 1941,
is a simple summary of murders carried out over a five month period
by one relatively small group of Nazis in Lithuania.
Here's October (a quiet month):
|2.10.41||Zagare||633 Jews, 1,107 Jewesses, 496 Jewish child.
(as these Jews were being led away a mutiny arose, which was however
immediately put down; 150 Jews were shot immediately; 7 partisans wounded)
|4.10.41||Kauen-F.IX -||315 Jews, 712 Jewesses, 818 Jewish
children (Reprisal after German police officer shot in ghetto)
|29.10.41||Kauen-F.IX -||2,007 Jews, 2,920 Jewesses,
4,273 Jewish children (mopping up ghetto of superfluous Jews)
The final total for the five month period was 137,346.
A very disturbing book (which is one of the main reasons why
I recommend it).
- Denying the Holocaust;
by Deborah Lipstadt;
published by the Penguin Group;
Copyright © 1993 by the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the
Study of Antisemitism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, All rights
An analysis of the Holocaust denial movement.
The three quotes on the back cover of my copy says it all:
"Chilling evidence that the record of the century's
greatest crime is far from secure." - New York Newsday
An important book for anyone concerned about attempts to deny
or downplay the Holocaust.
"Concise, elegant, thorough, scholarly, well constructed and
a meticulous survey of the denial movement." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"An absolutely vital, chilling book ... and an exhaustive and
unflinching documentation of the Nazi genocide against six million
European Jews." - Chicago Sun-Times
- Ordinary Men / Reserve Police Battalion 101
and the Final Solution in Poland;
by Christopher R. Browning;
published by HarperPerennial;
Copyright © 1992, 1998 Christopher Browning;
The story of how a group of ordinary men became murderers of
tens of thousands of Jews in Poland during the Second World War.
Recent editions of this book contain an afterword which is an excellent
commentary on Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners,
a book which also discusses Reserve Police Battalion 101 but comes to
somewhat different conclusions.
Although this isn't a very big book (under 300 pages), it deals with important
events and presents an analysis of the events that is definitely worth reading.
- ...and GOD CRIED / The Holocaust Remembered;
by Charles Lawliss;
published by JG Press;
Copyright © 1994 Wieser & Wieser, Inc.;
The story of the Holocaust told in words and pictures.
The photographs in this book are hard to forget . . .
- And The Band Played On;
by Randy Shilts;
published by St. Martin's Press;
Copyright © 1987 by Randy Shilts;
The story of the AIDS epidemic in the United States through to 1985.
A truly fascinating yet depressing story of how this epidemic was allowed
to happen (or, at least, allowed to be much much worse than it needed to be).