Friday, May 27, 2011

Five best books on World War II

Richard Snow, the former editor of American Heritage magazine, is the author, most recently, of A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named five essential books on World War II, including:
The Caine Mutiny
by Herman Wouk (1951)

Growing tensions aboard a decaying World War I-era destroyer, a terrifying storm at sea, a spellbinding court martial, good jokes and a nice little 1940s Manhattan love story thrown in too. "The Caine Mutiny" is not considered a serious piece of war literature. It should be. The novel contains a powerful meditation on the obligations of military command and obedience, and in its appealing hero, Willie Keith, it charts the trajectory from college twerp to capable officer that so many thousands of Americans followed in those years. The book conveys the universals of what at first might seem a narrow naval existence: Anyone who has spent time in the close quarters of an office (or, for that matter, a book group) will recognize the rub and chafe of life in the Caine's wardroom. My father saw very different sea duty (Atlantic submarine-hunting as opposed to the Caine's Pacific minesweeping), but he believed that this book summoned his experience of the war at sea more precisely than any other.
Read about the other books on the list.

"Each time I revisit [The Caine Mutiny] I’m more awed than the last," writes Dawn Shamp. "The manner in which he develops the character of Willie Keith is nothing short of brilliant. Wouk’s style is spare yet complex. Every word counts."

Also see: Five best works of fiction about World War Two.

--Marshal Zeringue