I love reading about World War II. It’s not the battle tactics, the strategies, or the overall historical views that interest me; it’s the personal stories. The books I love the most are those which focus on ordinary people who are thrown into incredibly difficult situations. Combatants and civilians alike have told amazing stories of bravery, treachery, suffering, heroism, love, and hatred.
Local author Kayleen Reusser is passionate about preserving the stories of WWII veterans. She has compiled stories from veterans living in this area in her new book World War II Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans. On September 3, the Dupont library will launch a new monthly program — also called World War II Legacies — facilitated by Kayleen Reusser and featuring local WWII veterans telling their stories. Join us on the first Thursday of each month at 6:00 at the Dupont branch.
In the meantime, check out some of my other favorite WWII books.
Margarete Dos’ Letters from Berlin tells an important story — that of an average German family living through the war in Berlin and, later, living as prisoners in a Russian gulag. We cannot truly understand a war unless we see the stories from all sides.
I was devastated by Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman. Before reading this one, I had no idea of the horrors that American prisoners endured at the hands of the Japanese. The men who survived the march ended up in prison camps, where they suffered through months of starvation, disease, and torture.
Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission describes the secret mission to rescue Bataan Death March survivors being held in Japanese prison camps on the Philippine island of Luzon.
In We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese, Elizabeth Norman tells the stories of women who served as nurses in the war. These amazing women cared for the injured and sick men while enduring starvation, disease, and injuries of their own.
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa was one of two books which formed the basis for the TV series The Pacific. Eugene Sledge writes of his experiences in two of the bloodiest battles of the war.