Category Archives: Biography

Book Review: “Albert Speer – Escaping the Gallows: Secret Conversations with Hitler’s Top Nazi”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author and historian Adrian Greaves published the book “Albert Speer – Escaping the Gallows: Secret Conversations with Hitler’s Top Nazi” in 2021. Mr. Greaves has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books. This latest book has just been released. 

I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. The book tells the story of Albert Speer, Hitler’s Architect and the German Minister of Armaments. 

The book goes through Speer’s early life and the growth of the Nazi party. It sheds a different light on Speer. The author was a newly commissioned British Army Lieutenant when he met Speer. Greaves’ first assignment in 1961 was as one of the Guard Commanders at Spandau prison. He served three years in that post. While serving there Greaves became acquainted with Speer sharing many long conversations. The book is a combination of those conversations and other historical data. 

At one time Adolf Hitler considered Speer a close confidant. Speer had joined the Nazi party in 1931. He became Hitler’s favorite architect. He was later appointed as Minister of Armaments in 1942. He had somewhat fallen out of favor by the end of the war. The leading figures of Nazi Germany were tried at Nuremberg after the war. Unlike the others, Speer escaped execution earning only a 20-year sentence. He maintained his innocence of war crimes. He claimed that he had known nothing about the Holocaust and other atrocities 

Speer repeated these claims to the author and throughout the rest of his life. Speer was released from Spandau in 1966 having served his full 20-year sentence. In the years after his release, he wrote three books. Two were autobiographical books while the other was about Himmler and the SS. After Speer’s death in 1981 evidence began to surface linking Speer to the Holocaust.

I enjoyed the 6 hours I spent reading this 192-page WWII history. I had of course heard about Speer, but I learned a great deal more about him from this book. He appears to have been very smart and cunning. The story rambles along at times, but I found it interesting. I do like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 540 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “An Englishman Abroad: SOE agent Dick Mallaby’s Italian missions, 1943–45”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Gianluca Barneschi published the book “An Englishman Abroad: SOE agent Dick Mallaby’s Italian missions, 1943–45” in 2019. 

I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. The story is set primarily in 1943-45 Italy. 

The book tells the story of British SOE agent Dick Mallaby. While the book does give details of his early life and his post-war life, it focuses on his war service. He spoke fluent Italian and was familiar with their culture as he had grown up in Italy. He joined the Army and trained as a radio operator. He served in North Africa while awaiting his mission. After a long wait and many false starts, he was flown to Italy. 

Mallaby was the first British SOE agent sent into Italy. He parachuted in, landing in Lake Como. Unfortunately, he was almost immediately captured. The British were unaware that Italian Intelligence had compromised the group he was to meet. He underwent questioning and torture but was able to use his skills to survive. In fact, he became a key player in the armistice negations with Italy. He aided the escape of Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel III to Allied lines. 

Late in the war, he returned to northern Italy with the SOE. This time it was the Germans who captured him. He faced interrogation again but this time by the SS. Instead of the death sentence he was expecting he found himself saved. This time he helped negotiate the surrender of 800,000 Germans at the close of WWII. In recognition of his achievements, he received the Military Cross. 

I enjoyed the 6+ hours I spent reading this 260-page WWII history and biography. This is one of those true stories that is almost unbelievable. Mallaby went on two missions into Italy. He utterly failed in the missions of both. He was lucky, or perhaps skilled enough, to achieve success in other ways. He was the trained radio operator that was needed for negations. He should have faced a firing squad twice. He ended up making significant contributions to the Allied cause. I had never heard of Mallaby before I read this book. For a history book, this was very readable. The cover art is a little plain but does reflect on the story. I give this novel a 4.3 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 540 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Galileo: And the Science Deniers”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Mario Livio (http://www.mariolivio.com) published the book “Galileo: And the Science Deniers” in 2020. Dr. Livio has published seven books and numerous technical papers. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. This book, as the title implies, is a biography of Galileo Galilei. 

The book chronicles Galileo’s early life, his period of discovery, and the trials he later underwent. His ‘radical’ views on science contradicted Catholic Church doctrine. This led to his books being restricted and his censure. 

I enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 283-page history. I knew the general story of Galileo. This book certainly delves deeper into his life. His discoveries and publications are discussed. The controversy he faced with the Church is covered in detail. This was a very dry and tedious read. From the title, I knew that the book addressed the science deniers from Galileo’s time. I was not expected to encounter commentary on today’s politics. I thought that this detracted from Galileo’s life story. I like the cover art used for this book. I give this book a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

Book Review: “An American Unsung: Based On Actual Events In the Life of My Friend, Dayton Edie, American Hero”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Authors Harold Ray Finley, Jr. and Carol Greer published the book “An American Unsung: Based On Actual Events In the Life of My Friend, Dayton Edie, American Hero” in 2019. This is their only publication. 

I received a copy of this book from one of the authors in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘G’. The book tells the story of the life of Dayton Edie. 

While the book includes part of his early life, most of it focuses on his WWII and later experiences. He served in combat in both WWII and the Korean War. Because of his language skills, part of his WWII-era career was with the OSS. After the war, he performed covert missions behind the iron curtain. He left the US Army after serving 20 years. 

I enjoyed the 3+ hours I spent reading this 248-page biography. This is not one long tale, but a series of short glimpses at Edie’s life and exploits. The book is relatively short and very readable. The story is quite remarkable. Based on this biography, he should have received far more recognition for his service. His obituary and page on tankdestroyer.net substantiate his military service. The cover art is very simple but appropriate for a biography. I give this book a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 530 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Radio Operator on the Eastern Front: An Illustrated Memoir, 1940-1949”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Authors Erhard Steiniger & Anthony Tucker-Jones (http://atuckerjones.com) will publish the book “Radio Operator on the Eastern Front: An Illustrated Memoir, 1940-1949” in 2021 (May 14). Mr. Steiniger has three books to his credit and Mr. Tucker-Jones has a dozen.


I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence. The book follows the life of Erhard Steiniger as he lives through the war years.


Steiniger lived I the German-speaking Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. After Germany took over, he was drafted on October 12, 1940. After arriving in the Wermacht he received training as a radio operator. He was assigned to the 151 Infantry Regiment, 61 West Prussian Infantry Division. His primary service was on the Eastern Front ranging over Estonia, Latvia, and Russia.


After capture by Russian troops in 1945, he served as a POW in Russia. In 1949 he was finally allowed to return home. He tells tales of his time in combat and how he survived. He also tells of atrocities he saw carried out by both the Russians and Czechs.


I thoroughly enjoyed the 6+ hours I spent reading this 320-page WWII history. It is primarily a biography of Erhard Steiniger. The book includes several photos of Steiniger and his comrades. It was a little different to read of the war from the Axis point of view. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 520 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “From Texas to Rome: Fighting World War II and the Italian Campaign with the 36th Infantry Division”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Fred L. Walker published the book “From Texas to Rome: Fighting World War II and the Italian Campaign with the 36th Infantry Division” in 2020 (originally published in 1969). This is his only publication.


I received a copy of this book for being a Docent at the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, Texas. The Museum documents the history of Texas voluntary military forces. In particular, it covers the Texas National Guard.


When activated in WWI and WWII the Texas National Guard became the 36th Infantry Division. A large part of the Museum is dedicated to the story of the 36th Infantry Division. Major General Walker commanded the 36th from September 1941 to July 1944. I categorize this book as ‘PG’ because of violence.


General Walker kept a journal during his time with the 36th. His journal evolved into this book. Many of the entries deal with the day-to-day minutia of command. Others assess the officers of the 36th as well as those of the higher level of command. As I have read elsewhere, Walker did not think a lot of Lieutenant General Clark. Clark was the commander of the United States Fifth Army of which the 36th was assigned.


The training of the 36th takes up a large part of the book. Walker does not begin to address combat operations until page 211.


I enjoyed the 14 hours I spent reading this 456-page WWII history. The book was a little slow at times but overall it was very readable. I do like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 510 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “I Flew for the Fuhrer: Memoirs of the Third Reich’s Pilot”

(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – Author Heinz Knocke published the book “I Flew for the Fuhrer: Memoirs of the Third Reich’s Pilot” in 2012 (the original version of the book appeared in 1954). This is Mr. Knocke’s only publication.


I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this book as ‘PG’. The book tells the story of Luftwaffe pilot Heinz Knocke.


Knocke’s story begins in 1935. The book relates his experiences during the war from his diary. As a fighter pilot, he was credited with more than 50 aerial victories. He survived the war, in part due to wounds suffered during the final months that grounded him.


Knocke flew more than two thousand missions during the war. He ended his wartime Luftwaffe career as the commanding officer of a fighter wing.


I found the 6+ hours I spent reading this 236-page memoir from WWII very interesting. I have only come across a few books in English written from the Axis point of view. They give a different perspective on the War. I think that the chosen cover art is a little dull. I give this book a 4 out of 5.


My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 490 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Lynne Olson (http://www.lynneolson.com). Ms. Olson has published seven books.

I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence.

This is the story of thirty-one-year-old Marie-Madeleine Fourcade. This young French woman became the only woman to lead a resistance unit in occupied France. She sent away her children to live with friends so that she could direct one of the most effective espionage rings operating in France. Her unit knows as Alliance, operated until well after D-Day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 10.5 hours I spent reading this 421-page biography and history. I thought this was an interesting story of WWII French resistance. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4.2 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 330 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy”

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Book Reviews – “Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Larry Loftis (https://www.larryloftis.com). This is Mr. Loftis’ second book.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the UK and France during World War II. The primary character is Brit Odette Sansom.

Sansom has spent much of her youth in France and is fluent in the language. She joins the SOE in 1942 and is landed in occupied France. She participates in several successful missions before she is captured by German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher. Sansom, along with her commanding officer and future husband Captain Peter Churchill, are tortured by the Gestapo, yet neither reveals anything of importance to the Germans.

They both would have likely died at the hands of the Germans, but Churchill, though no relation to the British Prime Minister, was able to use his last name to aid in their survival. Bleicher performed his duty in catching Sansom and Churchill but took no joy in how they were subsequently treated.

I enjoyed the nearly 9 hours I spent reading this 385-page biography. This book gives a different look at the resistance efforts within France and what those captured by the Germans were subject to. It was an easy to read biography that reads more like a novel.  I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 200 links to museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

Book Review: “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II”

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Book Reviews – “Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II” eBook was published in 2019 (April) and was written by Robert Matzen (https://robertmatzen.com). Mr. Matzen has published three books.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book tells about the mostly early life of actress Audry Hepburn paying special attention to the years 1940-45 when she lived in the occupied Netherlands.

This book gives an entirely different look at Hepburn. Much is told of her life as an eleven to sixteen-year-old in the German-occupied Netherlands. Then in 1944, the life of she and her family take a turn for the worst when the Allies undertake Operation Market Garden. They were living in Arnhem and were in the middle of days of battle between Allied and Nazi forces.

The months, nearly 200 days, following Market Garden were not much better as they had to survive in damaged housing and with almost no food until they were finally liberated by the Allies on April 16, 1945.

I enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this 400-page biography. I thought that this was an interesting story of survival by a young girl who developed into an international movie star. I found it interesting that Hepburn was such an enthusiastic and talented ballet dancer before and during the early years of the war. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 270 links to museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.