On War, Part 2
After last Friday’s post about the Pritzker Military Library’s symposium, On War, I got a challenging e-mail from a reader, asking me for the titles of definitive histories for World War I, World War II and Vietnam.*
My first response was “danged if I know.” My second response was doubt that there is a definitive history for either world war because of their sheer scope. I finally decided that if I couldn’t give him definitive histories, I could at least give him important ones.
Members of my favorite on-line military history group made several useful suggestions:
• Phillip Davidson’s Vietnam at War
• John Keegan’s The First World War
• Barbara Tuchman’s wonderful The Guns of August***
• Gerhard Weinberg’s A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
From my reading in the last two years, I’d add Antony Beevor’s The Second World War and Peter Englund’s The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War.
I ask you, dear readers: What books would you add to the list? Are there any here that you disagree with violently?
*Another reader who regularly asks me hard questions took a totally different angle and suggested I read James Juhnke’s The Missing Peace: The Search for Nonviolent Alternatives in United States History.**
**I have the smartest, toughest readers anywhere!
***I want to be Barbara Tuchman when I grow up.
The Good War: An Oral History of World War II [by Studs Terkel]
Excellent book based upon first hand interviews with actual participants. The title is a bit facetious.
Fighting the Great War: A Global History, by Michael S. Neiberg
The First World War – A Complete History, by Martin Gilbert
A War to be Won – Fighting the Second World War, by Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett
Commander in Chief, by Eric Larrabee
Vietnam – Yet to be written, in my opinion. Many, many good books, but they tend to fall into two camps: critiques of strategy/policy/political-military affairs; or experience at the troop level. Especially missing is an operational history of how the war was actually waged and good work on the NVA and VC. Best overview to date: George Herring, America’s Longest War – The United States and Vietnam
Thanks for the good suggestions, and the realistic assessment of books on Vietnam. My guess is we’re still one generation too close to get an authoritative account.
Love this post and book list – thanks! I have several Barbara Tuchman, just need to tuck into them 😉