Swing Age & World War Two, Pacific Theatre Bibliography

1934 to 1947

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

WW2 began in 1934 with the Japanese aggression against China, capped by the establishment of the Nazi Reich in Europe.

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, index
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 & II **
same, 1978
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 Handling ****
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 grounding.

Corliss, William R.

Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena YY
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. T2

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

Cornell, James

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.

Costello, John

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

Davis, Larry

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. T3

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)

Ford, Daniel

The Flying Tigers ****
Smithsonian Books
The most detailed book on the operations of the AVG. Lots of exerpts from diaries and older books, mentioned in the bibliography. T3

Hatcher, Julian S., Maj. Gen., US Army, ret.

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

Henry, Mark

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 jobs. T1

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

Ingraham, Holly

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

Keating, Bern

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

Macdonald, Peter

Soldiers of Fortune: the Twentieth Century Mercenary **
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. T1


Matthews-Northrup New International Atlas and Illustrated Gazetteer ****
NY, 1937
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

Miller, Nathan

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.

"Old Sarge"

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

O'Leary, Michael

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

Perret, Geoffrey

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 Emeny, PhD

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.

Singer, Kurt

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 gems.

Stern, Robert c.

US Battleships in Action, parts 1 and 2 ***
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 ***

Szuscikiewicz, Paul

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 before Ford.

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.

Tunis, Edwin

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. T2

B-25/B-26 ****

Pierce Butler Publishing, St. Paul, Minnesota
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.

Other government training films from Pierce Butler:

Fight for the Sky - P47/P-47 Operations ****

Both on the Republic Thunderbolt.

P-40/P-38 ****

For the Curtiss-Wright Warhawk and the Lockheed Lightning.

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" T2

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. T2

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 were available.

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.

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