Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Book Review: “Drawing D – Day: An Artist’s Journey Through War”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – Author Ugo Giannini published the book “Drawing D – Day: An Artist’s Journey Through War” in 2013. This was his only publication.

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 ‘PG’. This is the story of Ugo Giannini and his wartime experiences.

Giannini was an artist. He was part of a Military Police unit landed at Normandy on D-Day. Only 6 of his platoon of 37 made it ashore. He used his artistic abilities to make drawings on D-Day and throughout the war. Included in this book are some of these drawings. Most of the book consists of letters Giannin wrote to his girlfriend and family.

Most of his letters reflect his dark feelings about the war. While he was never wounded, many around him are killed or wounded.

I thought that the 5+ hours I spent reading this 196-page non-fiction book. The included drawings were good, but there were fewer than I expected. For me, the many letters became tiresome to read as they repeated his depression. I do like the selected cover art. I give this book a 3 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 370 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.

WWII Documentaries Available On-Line for Free

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smart phone @WWIIFoundation 2020-03-20 at 9.32.34 AM

I saw a tweet from @WWIIFoundation a short time ago that I thought was worth sharing. It said:

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

If you visit their website (https://wwiifoundation.org/) you will find nearly 30 documentary videos covering WWII. This website offers something to fill some of the time while we are confined at home and to learn more about WWII.


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 360 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: “Children Against Hitler: The Young Resistance Heroes of the Second World War”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Children Against Hitler: The Young Resistance Heroes of the Second World War” will be published in 2020 (July) and was written by Monica Porter (https://monicaporter.co.uk). Ms. Porter has published six 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 ‘PG’ because it contains Violence. The book tells the stories of children across occupied Europe who lived through WWII. 

The children depicted in the book grew up across  a range of social classes. Their ages stretch from 6 to 18 and they come from France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Belorussia, Poland, and Holland. The book is a collection of short stories about these children. All of these stories tell of work with the Resistance against the Nazis. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 4.5 hours I spent reading this 184-page history.  I have read much about WWII, but this is the first book I have read that deals with it just from the viewpoint of the children. The book provides a very different view of the war. Many of these brave kids found themselves alone, yet they took it upon themselves to carry on and to risk their lives as part of the Resistance. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel 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 Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 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: “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Hitler’s Housewives: German Women on the Home Front” was published in 2020 (May) and was written by Tim Heath. Mr. Heath has published nearly a dozen books and novels. 

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, Mature Situations, and Mature Language. This book tells the story of several young German women. It follows them from Hitler’s rise to power until Germany is defeated in May 1945.

Hitler was welcomed as he rose to power. Changes the Nazi party put into place benefited the common worker and Germany was prospering. Women were a large portion of his voter base that put him into power. They saw the Nazis as stabilizing the country. Soon though their outlook began to change, but by then it was too late. The strict control of the Nazis prevented any from speaking out or asking questions without punishment. 

The book describes the hardships the women experienced. All of the women are in their twenties or younger. Some were wealthy at the beginning of the war, others were barely making ends meet. The first year or so of the war caused them little discomfort, but as the war progressed there were shortages, the loss of loved ones, and the Allied bombing to contend with. Their lives were drastically altered by the war. 

I enjoyed the 6.5 hours I spent reading this 232-page history. This was a different look at WWII. Not many books I have read have dealt with the war from the Axis civilian point of view. The story is a combination of author narrative, interviews, and letters. Not only are the memories of the “housewives” presented, but often memories from their children are included. If you are interested in the human impact of WWII, you will find this book of interest. I like the selected 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 three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 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: “Four Hours of Fury: The Untold Story of World War II’s Largest Airborne Invasion and the Final Push into Nazi Germany”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Four Hours of Fury: The Untold Story of World War II’s Largest Airborne Invasion and the Final Push into Nazi Germany” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by James M. Fenelon (https://www.jamesfenelon.com). This is Mr. Fenelon’s first 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 and Mature Language. This is the story of the last and largest airborne operation of WWII. 

The book details the preparations for the attack as well as events on the day of the jump itself. The high-level strategy behind the jump is addressed and the heroic actions of many individuals are described. The book mentions many who were involved in this last major European battle of WWII. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 11.5+ hours I spent reading this 449-page history. This is one of the best-written accounts of WWII that I have read. It is also a detailed account of a major operation that I had not really been aware of. I will certainly be on the lookout for more non-fiction from Mr. Fenelon. 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 three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 350 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: “Secret Casualties of World War Two: Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Secret Casualties of World War Two: Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire” was published in 2020 (May) and was written by Simon Webb. He is the author of many books on social history. 

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 ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book covers the years of WWII. 

In this book the author tries to document some of the civilian deaths caused by Allied ‘collateral damage’ and ‘friendly fire’. He contends that more casualties were caused in the German air raids by faulty anti aircraft shells and the shrapnel from working shells exploding over the cities than from the German bombing itself. He even suggests that there was a plot by the British government to keep people in the cities to work in the war factories. 

I thought that the 5 hours I spent reading this 168-page historical analysis of WWII was interesting. As much as the author contends that the anti aircraft fire was near to useless, I wonder how he explains the many Allied aircraft shot down over occupied Europe? Certainly there were many deaths accidentally caused by the Allies during the war, but I still find it difficult to believe that there was a conspiracy. Personally I do not feel that sufficient evidence was provided to justify all of his claims. I do like the selected cover art. I give this novel 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 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 350 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: “Last Witnesses”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Last Witnesses” eBook was published in 2019 (originally published in 1985) and was written by Svetlana Alexievich (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetlana_Alexievich). Ms. Alexievich has written at least 6 books and is a Nobel Laureate in Literature. 

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 ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book is a collection of memories from children (primarily from the Ukraine) who lived through the Eastern Front of WWII. 

I found the 5+ hours I spent reading this 298-page oral history of WWII interesting. Unfortunately, after the first few dozen memories, I found them very repetitive. I like the chosen cover art. I give this book a 3.5 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 three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 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: “Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Paul B. Janeczko (https://www.paulbjaneczko.com). Mr. Janeczko has published 9 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 the story of the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troop unit of the US Army in WWII. 

This group, also known as the Ghost Army, were used in Europe to deceive and mislead the German Army. This was an unusual collection of artists, actors and engineers who used sound, camouflage, radio traffic, and play acting to make the Germans see what wasn’t really there. 

Many in the US Army did not like the idea of using tricks to fool the Germans. However, after the British successfully used subterfuge on the Germans in North Africa and proponents of the idea, including US Navy Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks Jr (the noted actor) were able to sell the idea to the upper echelons of the Army, the unit was approved. The unit was quickly pulled together, trained, and sailed for England in early 1944. 

The unit took part in more than 20 battlefield deceptions and the unit was kept secret for more than 40 years after WWII ended. The 23rd had three different methods of deception: visual, sonic and radio. Because of their need for the Germans to generally see and or hear them, they operated very close to the front lines and suffered a few casualties. 

I enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 305-page history of the WWII era. I had listened a few months ago to a Missed in History Class podcast  episode about the Ghost Army. This book goes into much more detail about those in the unit and their operations. I 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 Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 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: “The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Jonathan F. Vance (http://www.jonathanvance.com/). Mr. Vance has published ten 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 ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book tells the ‘true’ story of the “Great Escape”.

Contrary to the popular movie “The Great Escape” almost all of those involved in the actual escape were British or Commonwealth air crew. This book gives the background of each of the major figures that were involved in the escape. It also details the efforts to dig the tunnels used in the escape. Those that escaped are followed and their journey documented. 

I enjoyed the 13.5 hours I spent reading this 392-page history from WWII. I found this book interesting, but it was a bit dry. 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 three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 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: “Atlantic Nightmare: The longest military campaign in World War II “

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Atlantic Nightmare: The longest military campaign in World War II ” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Richard Freeman. Mr. Freeman has published more than a dozen books. 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The is the story of the battle for the Atlantic that was waged between the Allies and Axis powers during WWII.

This is a detailed look of the principal actions in the Atlantic. This does not talk much about specific people, but gives a high-level view of each battle. The time period stretches from the beginning of the war in September 1939 until the surrender in May of 1945. More than 2000 days. A lot of focus is placed on the German U-Boats and their role. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 382-page WWII history. While many of the battles I had read about before, I think that this book gives a very good overview of the important sea battles of the European Theater. I like the selected 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 three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 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.