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Category: Third Reich

Non-fiction World War 2 book coming in 2019!

It is with incredible pride (and more than a little astonishment) that I announce having signed with Helion Books to write a book on a long-ignored campaign of World War 2! The book is due for the market in 2019.

More details will be coming later, but for now here’s a link to their website: http://www.helion.co.uk/

But be careful! They have so many amazing books you’ll end up buying something!


World War 2 book

I thought some of you might like to read something I just wrote five minutes before making this blog entry. What you might find interesting is that the two paragraphs below took maybe three minutes to actually write, but represent about 45 or 50 minutes worth of research. Not only that, but I had to buy the book I used for the research, since it’s not something you can find on Kindle or in the library.

The cheapest copy currently on Amazon is $195. I bought it from the publisher years ago for, I think, about $75. My personal library for producing this book exceeds 300 volumes of all kinds.

Near the southern end of the Vienna Woods at Heiligenkreuz, the storied 1st Panzer Division re-grouped and counted its losses. The town had long been an island of solace close to Vienna, with a backdrop of firs and pines to ease the pressures of the capital. The ancient Cistercian Abbey in the town had been continuously occupied since the Twelfth Century and was not abandoned even as war approached its gates.

Typical of the time, 1st Panzer was assigned to whatever corps headquarters made sense at the moment. At the beginning of April that was IV SS Panzer Corps. A strength return on the 1st indicated how devastating the material losses had been during the retreat across Hungary. Total manpower (ration strength) remained high at 11,473 men. But the equipment ready for combat tells the true story. 3 Mark IV panzers were on hand, but none were operational. A whopping 39 Mark V Panthers remained on the rolls but just a single tank could fight. The SPW numbers were about sixty percent of authorized numbers. The division’s heavy flak regiment was reorganizing at Bratislava, where the flood of war washed it away.[i]

[i] Nevenkin, pp 85

HITLERLAND by Andrew Nagorski

Two days in a row…hey, anything for my bookies! Anyway, this is a great review and I have never known Nagorski to be anything less than a first-class historian.

NONFICTION: “Hitlerland,” by Andrew Nagorski

  • Article by: GLENN C. ALTSCHULER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 11, 2012 – 8:53 AM

Firsthand assessments of American journalists, expats, politicians and diplomats of the threat posed by Adolf Hitler.

Andrew Nagorski. Moscow, Russia. May 27, 2004. Photo by Andrey Rudakov

Photo: Andrey Rudakov,


Following the Reichstag fire and the suspension of civil liberties provisions in the Weimar constitution in 1933, journalist Dorothy Thompson gave voice to her frustration. “I keep thinking what could be done,” she writes. “I feel myself starting to hate Germany. … If only someone would speak.”

Thompson’s sense of urgency was not shared by most American journalists, expats, artists, politicians and diplomats who visited Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. “There were those who saw what was coming and those who were blind to it until the very last moment,” Andrew Nagorski, director of public policy at the EastWest Institute and a former bureau chief at Newsweek magazine, reminds us.

In “Hitlerland,” Nagorski tells their stories. Informative and interesting, the book often covers ground that has been well-traveled, most recently by Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts,” an account of William Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Germany in the 1930s, and his daughter, Martha.

Reluctant to pass judgment, Nagorski does not explain why so many Americans dismissed evidence all around them. Nor does he mount a compelling case that those who sounded the alarm “gradually eroded isolationist sentiments” in the United States and “prepared their countrymen psychologically for the years of bloodshed and struggle ahead.”

At its best, however, “Hitlerland” conveys, often vividly, the difficulty Americans had coming to terms with Nazi terror. In 1941, Nagorski reveals, Howard K. Smith, a young reporter for CBS radio, was visited by Fritz Heppler, a German Jew he had met at an air raid a year earlier. The Nazis had searched his apartment, found nothing, and released him, Heppler said, but he was certain that a roundup of Jews was imminent and begged Smith to help him get out of the country. The reporter offered a cigarette, suggested that Heppler was exaggerating the danger, promised to make inquiries about a visa, and escorted him to the door. Smith forgot about the incident the next day — and never saw Heppler again. “My callousness on this occasion can hardly be justified,” he recalled, much later. “Not that it would have helped him; but it would have helped soothe my own conscience.”

Did Smith really believe that Heppler was exaggerating the danger, one wonders, or was he afraid? And what are we to make of Ambassador Hugh Wilson, Dodd’s successor, who, in the aftermath of the annexation of Austria, found Nazi Germany “so darned absorbing and interesting,” and maintained that “we have nothing to gain by entering a European conflict, and everything to lose”?

“Hitlerland,” alas, doesn’t provide satisfactory answers to these questions, but provides a significant service in forcing us to ask them.

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.

  • related content

  • HITLERLAND By: Andrew Nagorski.


    By: Andrew Nagorski.

    Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 385 pages, $28.

    Review: Nagorski does not make a compelling case that American observers helped end isolationist sentiment in the United States. But the book does vividly convey the difficulties Americans had coming to terms with the Nazi terror.


Back in action

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.

First, on a personal level, I’m sorry that I haven’t been on top of this blog for the last week or so. My last uncle died Thursday and we have been saying goodbye. He was of that generation that won World War II and served his country for 34 years, was a gourmet cook, grew his own vegetables, fished…well, the Greatest Generation. We’re going to miss men such as he.

*** And now, on to book news! If you own a Brick & Mortar bookstore, beware. Who knew it was such a dangerous occupation? I mean, come on. The British are supposed to be known for their polite reserve, somebody needs to tell this clod.


*** ABEbooks is once again having issues with some of its features that are used by sellers. In particular, sellers are unable to print shipping manifests, making it impossible at the moment to ship their orders. This has happened many times in the past and never lasts long, but is another indication for customers that sometimes a bookseller is dealing with things behind the scenes that cause their orders to ship late.

*** With our never-ending fascination with all things Nazi, in an effort to understand how such a regime could come to power, we have examinations of just about everything that happened before, during and after the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But new topics are still coming to light and intrepid authors are digging up forgotten but important subjects.

In 1931 Hans Litten prosecuted four Brown Shirts (SA men) for assault and attempted murder. The Weimar Republic may have been a weak democracy but it did have the gears and machinery in place to protect all of its citizens, and there were brave men who stood against the rising tide of violence and tried to impose law and order. Few survived the coming years. This book seems to overplay the actual threat that Hans Litten posed to Hitler and the Nazis, a forgiveable stance that many non-fiction authors take.


And, since we’re talking Nazis again, surely fans of films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark (Nazis in 1935 chasing about jungles and looking for artifacts) and The Boys From Brazil (Nazis building an empire in South America) will read this story and understand where the concepts for those movies (and the book of The Boys From Brazil) came from. There really were Nazis mucking about the Amazon basin and promoting its use as a place for expansion.


*** Another bookstore is passing into history, this time in Amherst. Your friendly neighborhood BBG never had the pleasure of visiting the store, but he would have if he could have.


*** Obituaries: Last Thursday, photo-journalist Alex Rivera, famous for his work covering the Civil Rights Movement, died at age 95 in Durham, N.C. Hal Roth, author of 12 books and an avid sailor who circumnavigated the world three times, died in Easton, MD., after a 2 1/2 year battle with lung cancer. He was 81.

*** I find it very encouraging that in this age of aesthetically bereft non-art such as ebooks, there are still people who go about lovingly making books the way that books have been made for centuries, as crafted objects that are not only beautiful but will stand the test of time. That’s just one small part of the 3rd annual New York Art Book Fair, held last weekend, but to me it’s quite an important part. Humans in general are losing our ability to make things, to actually construct something the way it has always been done, something with endurance. I find this whole Art Fair most satisfactory.


*** Remember Joe Eszterhas, screenplay writer for ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Showgirls’ and many other movies? In 2001 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and has been battling the disease ever since. But not alone. His new book, Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, tells of his re-connection with his Catholic faith and subsequent survival. Living now in Ohio, if you see him watching his kids play Little League, don’t be surprised.

*** Yes, like billions of others, I’m a James Bond fan. Not in every shape and form, mind you, Sean Connery has no equal (not even a pretender to the throne) until now, but while I didn’t particularly love Roger Moore or the other Bonds, I didn’t hate them, either. So if I had the time I think I probably would read Sir Roger’s new Bond biography My Word is My Bond. Stuff like this might be thought of as trashy, but then, who cares?


*** And who knew that the next big thing would be business books? Not me, but such appears to be the case in the wake of the credit crisis/Congressional mis-management of their duties/Bailout/recession. Personally, I like it. Somebody makes money no matter what the economy does, might as well be authors.


*** This just in: archaeologists have found the oldest Hebrew text ever unearthed on a pottery shard near the valley where David slew Goliath. preliminary dating puts the age at 3,000 years old and, while it has yet to be fully translated, a few words can be made out.


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