Swing Age & World War Two, Pacific
1934 to 1947
copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists
WW2 began in 1934 with the Japanese aggression
against China, capped by the establishment of the Nazi Reich
The many older books can be located in second-hand
book stores, reference libraries via ILL (Inter-Library Loan),
or by book finders. Of course, you know to read magazines and
newspapers of the time to pick up the period flavour and concerns.
For costume, avoid most books: they often
lump "the Forties" together, though there were two
fashion periods, the shoulder pads, high hem, late-Thirties-like
fashions of the first half, and the purposely revolutionary,
corsetted, narrow-shouldered, long, full-skirted New Look from
Dior after the War. Best to read back issues of the fashion magazines
of the period. There's the usual Costumers
Manifesto, but look for crazy things at Retronaut.
Alden, John D., Commander, US Navy, ret.
The Fleet Submarine in the US Navy,
a Design and Construction History ****
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1979; 290 pg, index
The best book on purpose, use, behavior, and history of action
of US subs from the end of the Great War through the arrival
of the nuclear subs. Absolutely the best on detail stats of anything
we've found, with diagrams of what's where.
American Red Cross
First Aid Textbook ****
The Blakiston Company, Philedelphia, 1933, rev. 1940; 256 pg,
How times (and practices!) have changed! Features traction of
broken limbs, abhorred today, but more practical in a world where
it might be a day's travel to a doctor, or even a phone. T3
Angelucci, Enzo, & Paolo Maricardi
World Aircraft: Commercial 1935-1960
Rand McNally & Co, Chicago, NY & SF, 1979; 317-320 pg
per vol., index
World War II Airplanes, vol. I &
illustrators: Vicenzo Cosentino & Claudio Tatangelo
Take with grain of salt, and other reference. Their sources and
conversions may be a hair off, especially in gallonage, probably
a confusion between British Imperial and American gallons, which
are a bit different. The longer we have them, the more errors
we find. Nice illos, though. T2
Chapman, Charles Frederic
Piloting, Seamanship, and Small Boat
Motor Boating, NY, 1922, rev. periodically; 688 pg, index
Rules of the Road, weather signs, navigation, marlinspike seamanship,
social etiquette, flags and signalling: just about everything!
Gospel. Often known simply as "Chapman."
Churchill, Sir Winston
The Second World War *****!
Each volume, covering perhaps a year in one theatre, is about
750 pages, giving you a hint of the detail. Some now consider
this less than objective, being written by one of the national
leaders who had to justify his own decisions, but it is a good
Corliss, William R.
Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena
Sourcebook Project, Glen Arm, MD, 1977; 542 pg, index
Pure reportage, being compiled of letters and reports in various
scientific journals over the last few centuries. Excellent: no
interpretations except as in source journals of the strange lights,
magnetic fluctuations and radio craziness you may experience.
Cormack, Alexander J.R., editor, with Mjr.
F. W. A. Hobart and Lt. Col. John Weeks
Famous Rifles and Machine Guns ***
Profile Publications Ltd., Windsor, Berkshire, England, 1977;
160 pg, index
Covers the Winchester repeating rifle, Bren Gun, Erma Submachine,
Thompson submachinegun, Russian submachineguns, Heckler &
Koch, SIG Service Rifle, and Armalite weapons. Includes stat
tables for most. T3
The Great International Disaster Book
Scribner, NY, 1976
Excellent on human behavior in crisis; unfortunately, subject
matter leaves you with a depressed, helpless anxiety after cover-to-cover
reading. Take it in small doses, only what you need.
Virtue Under Fire: How WWII Changed
Our Social and Sexual Attitudes *****!
Fromm International Publishing Corp., 1985; 294 pg, index, bibliography
Documentary of innumerable cases of interpersonal relationships,
sexual harassment, and gallantry, in all sorts of mixes of male
and female, military and civilian. If you think it was all according
to the Hayes Office movies, or all an extended dirty joke, you
are wrong on either count. Quite an eye-opener. T2
Planes, Names & Dames, vol. I 1940-45
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrollton, TX, 1990; illustrated
by Don Greer
This book apparently came out in response to the enourmous number
of copies of Valant's <<Vintage Aircraft Nose Art>>
sold by Squadron Mail Order. Lots of new artwork, often in the
background of snapshots of guys in the squadron from someone's
family album. Much, much less costly than the Valant hardback.
Dupuy, Trevor Nevitt, Col. US Army, ret.
The Military History of World War II
***, except vol. 16, ****
Franklin Watts Inc., NY, 1962, indexed
Cosnists of 18 volumes, each 80-90 pg. Good black and white pictures
and maps. The quality is even being by one author rather than
several. However, some volumes cover rarer information. T1
8: Expansion of Japan in Asia (Pre-War); 9: Japanese Ambitions
in the Pacific; 10: Allied Victories in China and Burma; 11:
The Naval War in the Pacific: Rising Sun on Nippon; 12: The Naval
War in the Pacific: On to Tokyo; 13: The Air War in the Pacific:
Air Power Leads the Way; 14: The Air War in the pacific: Victory
in the Air; 16: Asian and Axis Resistance Movements; 17 Combat
Leaders of WWII (biographies); 18: Strategic Direction of WWII
(historical summation, and the central index)
The Flying Tigers ****
The most detailed book on the operations of the AVG. Lots of
exerpts from diaries and older books, mentioned in the bibliography.
Hatcher, Julian S., Maj. Gen., US Army,
Hatcher's Notebook ****
Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, PN, 3rd ed. 1962; 640 pg, index
Gospel on firearms, their development since 1900, their behavior,
and experiments with ammo. The man has tested this stuff, not
only privately and as a magazine's firearms editor, but for the
US Army arsenal and test facility, and is an expert in investigation
of firearms accidents. The writing is clear even when the subject
is complex. T3
- The US Navy in World War II ***
- Osprey Elite, 2002; 64 pages
- Illustrated by Ramiro Bujeiro. While being
a uniform book, it also strikes on two areas often completely
slighted: women and blacks in the Navy, and the appearance of
the Coast Guard, for the war transferred from Dept. of Transportation
to Dept. of the Navy. gives a light overview of operations and
Hogg, Ian V.
The History of Fortification ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1981
Clear, interesting and accurate overview from 7000 BC through
the 1970's, well illustrated with photos and diagrams; bibliography
and glossary. T3
People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to
the Proper Use of over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in
over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997;
613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
The Contemporary half not only has all the European names for
American troops, but naming practices for the Pacific Islands,
as well as all the countries of Asia. Family names as well as
those for individuals. T1
Jackson, Ronald W.
China Clipper ***
Everest House, 1980
Wonderful details on early PanAm operations, as well as the creation
and fates of these legendary flying boats. Interior photos, shots
of the hotels at Wake and Midway, the dock at Honolulu. Also
deals with the loss of the China Clipper (as opposed to her sister
ships, the Hawaii Clipper and the Philippine Clipper) as a probable
highjacking by Japanese agents. T3
The Mosquito Fleet ***
Scholastic Book Services, NY; no copyright, 1960's?, 251 pg
A good detailed look at American PT boats in the Pacific, and
their many dashing forays. T2
Keegan, John, ed.
The (London) Times Atlas of the Second
World War *****!
Harper & Row, NY, 1989, 254 pg, index
Beautifully done, allowing you to follow the strategies as well
as the battles. Arranged chronologically, not by theatre, we
are especially fond of the maps on 90-91 that give the Nazi picture
of the map of Europe after their inevitable victory. Also maps
of sabotage and Resistance actions. T1
Lee, Eric C. B. & Kenneth
Safety and Survival at Sea, reviesed
& expanded edition ****
W. W. Norton & co., NY & London, 1980; 315 pg, index
Heavy collection of first-hand accounts illustrating what you
should and should not do. A must-have if you are putting any
characters over the side. T2
Soldiers of Fortune: the Twentieth Century
Gallery Books, NY; 1986; 192 pgs, index
A big military pictorial that will most interest you in the first
four chapters which mention groups like the Flying Tigers, Britain's
Gurkhas from Nepal, the French Foreign Legion, and the non-German
units of the Waffen SS, which is the most useful of the lot.
Matthews-Northrup New International
Atlas and Illustrated Gazetteer ****
One of the last issued before the chaos of the War, it may be
a copy of that "high school atlas" which had the only
mention of certain ports that the Japanese had manged to "erase"
from navigation charts and other maps.T2
Melton, H. Keith
OSS Special Weapons & Equipment;
Spy Devices of WWII ****
Sterling Publishing, 1991; 128 pg, index, glossary
Dazzling! An actual catalog for OSS agents, annotated. What length
fuses are available to your agent and what are the key colours?
How small a radio can he or she have? Belt-guns, .22-calibre
cigarettes, knock-down and pistol crossbows, how to knife a guard
or blow up a ship, compasses in a button, gilhooleys, "Who
Me?" in a tube -- just everything. T3
The Military Service Publishing Company
The Officer's Guide *****!
Harrisburg, PN, 9th ed. 1943
If you want to present an Army officer and you haven't been one,
or weren't in the right branch of service, this is great. It
covers the National Guard as well, with organization of the Army,
the command structure, what you wear, with whom you serve, your
first station, your last will and testament, ad indinitum. Mercifully
written before gobbledegook, in a clear and simple format, which
is neither flowery nor dull. T3
Spying for America; the Hidden History
of US Intelligence **
The Paragon House, 1989; 482 pg, index, bibliography
Very little on WW2, pgs, 221-298, part of that on the Pacific
Theatre, and including the periodic signature of photographs.
Consider this a primer, if you consider it at all. T1
Nock, O .S., editor
Encyclopedia of Railroads ****
Galahad Books, NY, 1977; 480 pg, index
History of railroads and equipment over the entire world, including
Africa, Asia, and south America. Sections on equipment and operation,
also the great luxury trains, past and present. Gorgeous colour
layout, oversize. One lap-breaker worth the effort of lifting.
How to Get Along in the Army *****!
D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., NY & London, 1942
An NCO's guide, not on "how to soldier," but all the
hints and kinks of staying healthy, blister-free, out of trouble,
and in your barracks-mates' good graces. The anecdotes provide
many incidents for the character in basic training. T2
Fighting Lightnings; the Complete Story
of Lockheed's Fabulous P-38 Lightning During World War Two ***
War Eagle Publications, Canoga Park, CA
Pictures, pictures everywhere, and good text, too. But this is
only one plane. T3
Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of
Douglas MacArthur ***
Recent detail biography, not to be missed if he is one of your
historical figures, but not necessary for most tales. T3
Rowland, K. T.
Steam at Sea: a History of Steam Navigation
Praeger, NY, 1970
Interesting in that it deals with freighters as well as top passenger
liners, and takes you down to the engine rooms. T3
Salmonson, Jessica Amanda
The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors
from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
Simonds, Frank H., Litt.D., & Brooks
The Great Powers in World Politics:
International Relations and Economic Nationalism ***
American Book Company, NY et al, 1939
Originally published in 1935 and revised in 1937; with the precipitation
of events into war in 1939 several chapters were continued in
the back. Good for the chronology, and the maps of the Great
Powers before WWI and during the interregnum, also for its view
of WWI, the League of Nations, and the Treaty of Versailles.
Takes the stand that a Great Power like Germany or Japan has
the right to control or to own necessary resources of
material and energy, condoning a political and if necessary military
rather than an economic solution. Combined with their not-too-grudging
admiration of Hitler's handling of politics and aggression, this
reads like undercover Geopolitik, and is actually a subtle pro-fascist
text. Remember, you have historic hindsight, and this author
has no suspicion of the Holocaust to come.
Spies and Traitors of World War II *****!
Prentice Hall, NY, 1945
The story of Adm. Canaris, the German spy-master, and various
agents around the world, on both sides. Explains why Argentina
was a refuge for Nazis (Peron was a fascist), and has a wonderful
last chapter on the stated post-war aims of the Nazi underground.
He does vastly underestimate Hitler's wrath with Canaris, which
eventually led to his execution, as the author does not know.
Sparks, Nancy J., editor
True Stories of World War II ****
Reader's Digest Books, Pleasantville, NY, 1980
Twenty-six stories from the pages and Condensed Books of Reader's
Digest, including They Were Expendable and lesser-known
Stern, Robert c.
US Battleships in Action, parts 1 and
Squadron/Signal Publications, Carollton, TX, 1980
"Sideways" pictorial booklets that cover the battlewagons
class by class, with their stats and histories.
from the same quthor and publisher, in the same format:
US Subs in Action, 1979 ***
Flying Tigers ****
Gallery Books, NY, 1990, 80 pg, index.
A large, slim, pictorial hardback that covers the background
of Claire Chennault, and how he came to work for the Nationalist
Chinese; and the short life of the American Volunteer Group and
its three squadrons - the Adam and Eves, the Panda Bears, and
the Hell's Angels - in strict detail. Lots of who flew where
on which days, and action quotes from the many autobiographies.
Still, if there had been twice as much text to answer some questions
- Who were the other two women, and what were their jobs in the
AVG? What happened to Liebolt? - it would get five stars. Read
Time Life Books, the editors of
This Fabulous Century: Sixty Years of
American Life, volume 5. 1940-1950 *
Time-Life Books, NY, 1969
Fashions, fads, infamies, in crisp original photographs, and
reproductions of ads and newspapers of the times. However the
text has consistently turned up glaring errors of fact and date.
Good for pictures, but bad for information, though this volume
is the least flawed of the set.
- Weapons: A Pictorial History ****
- Thomas Y. Crowell Co., NY, 1954, 154 pgs
- Some good facts, great illos, fun writing.
No errors but a general intro without much detail. Fast and chatty
coverage; good alternative to gunaholic books. T1
Valant, Gary M.
Vintage Aircraft Nose Art ****
Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI, 1987
"Over 1000 photographs (118 in color) of pin-up paintings
on US military aircraft in World War II and Korea." Despite
the cover blurb, quite a few are NOT pin-up girls, but cartoon
figures from Disney and the funny pages.
editors of the New York *World*
The World Almanac and Book of Facts
published annually by the New York World
Since 1886, this is an instant window on any year, due to its
detailed General Chronology of the previous year, which in the
1944 edition runs from 1 December 1942 to 30 November 1943. But
the tide charts and moon cycles and holidays are for the cover
year, 1944. During WW2, they also ran a special section on the
military aspects of the war, in all theatres, so you can find
out on which days who bombed where. Your library should have
this on microfilm. If not, buy your own copy from Ann Arbor;
it's worth it. T3
There's some astonishing stuff out there,
from aircraft training films to deathcamp footage "For Adults
Only." This a sample of items to get you grounded.
Attack - Pacific! ***
Reader's Digest Video
The Pacific campaigns from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese surrender.
Pierce Butler Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota
Other government training films from
Training films originally produced for the Army during the War.
Get inside the North American Mitchell and the Martin Marauder.
See what drills it takes to get them set for flight.
Fight for the Sky - P47/P-47 Operations
Both on the Republic Thunderbolt.
For the Curtiss-Wright Warhawk and the Lockheed
There are lots more!
Great Battles of World War II: Victory
in the Pacific ****
Reader's Digest Video
Four volumes of, not only the naval action, but the ground forces,
too. A tighter, glossier alternative to <<Victory at Sea>>.
I: "The First Years: Pearl Harbor, Corregidor, Midway";
II: "Counterattack: the Solomons, Tarawa, the Burma Road";
III: "1944 - Closing In: Saipan, Guam, Leyte Gulf";
IV: "1945 - The End Approaches: Manila, Iwo Jima, Okinawa"
Victory At Sea ****
1952; Embassy Home Entertainment
The classic series from the early days of television, on the
naval aspects of the War. Twenty-six half-hour episodes, available
as 26 individual cassettes, or, as here, as six cassettes. More
winder time to find a specific area, but less bulk to store.
The "Why We Fight Series" *****!
All seven of the Frank Capra films, originally
made to be shown in boot camps. Superb. Sometimes sold separately.
For the Pacific, you will want I: "Prelude to War: World
at the Brink" which covers the escalating Japanese militarism,
and the rise of Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany; VI: "The
Battle of China: Assault on the Great Wall" on the long
assault (since the mid-Thirties) of Japan against China; and
VII: "War Comes to America: The Front at Home" because
this is what your characters have lived through, a retrospective
of American reaction to all three Axis powers, leading up to
the dastardly attack on Pearl Harbor. T1
Japan's War in Colour ****
Tired of everything in B&W? Colour film
was in use -- in fact, short subjects at the movie houses made
more use of it than features did.
American Memory ****!
For everything American, whether books, maps,
pamphlets, or pictures. The Library of Congress might have up
what you're looking for, as well as things you never imagined
H-GIG Historical Times & Places
A thorough-going linksite maintained by the
University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by
era (ancient, Medieval, early Modern, Modern, and 20th C. <yours>),
or by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place to start
a hunt for books and essays online.
To Japan Bibliography
To China, Mongolia
& Tibet Bibliography
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