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World War II on Land

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen
of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which you have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

-- from General Dwight Eisenhower's notice to his troops
before the invasion of Normandy, June 1944
Sherman tank and troops on the beach at Tinian island, 1944 Captured Tiger I tank in Tunis, 1943

The main part of World War II was fought on land -- Europe and Africa in the European Theater, and various islands in the Pacific Theater. For some reason my interest in land warfare tends to focus on a few specific aspects such as armored warfare and the island fighting in the Pacific, so I tend to have many books about those aspects and very few books about other aspects.

Europe: North Africa

The North Africa campaign started as a meaningless land grab by Italy, and became the prime showcase and proving-ground for the new styles of mechanized warfare. It also was a testing ground for many other aspects of the new warfare: camouflage, deception, and so on. So it's worth a close look by any student of the ETO.

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Europe: Fighting on the Western Front

General Eisenhower called it "the Great Crusade." Military planners called it "Operation Overlord." On June 6th, 1944 it began the battle against Germany on the Western Front, and the liberation of France and Western Europe. Over the next ten months the Americans, British, and Canadians slowly and systematically annihilated the German forces facing them, dealt the German Army its single biggest defeat of the war, and enormously accelerated Germany's collapse and defeat.

  • BATTLE OF THE BULGE
    Author: Merriam, Robert E.
    Copyright:1947
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 0-345-31104-3
    Detailed account of the Battle of the Bulge. Focuses on strategic and high-level tactical aspects; little on the local unit level.
  • CITIZEN SOLDIERS
    Author: Ambrose, Stephen
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster
    ISBN: 0-684-84801-5
    Stephen Ambrose follows the European campaign on the Western Front from the day after D-Day through the battles of Normandy, Falaise, and the Bulge, and the conquest of Germany.
  • COMPANY COMMANDER
    Author: MacDonald, Charles
    Copyright:1947
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-12141-3
    A first-hand account of commanding an infantry company in the battles for Europe.
  • FOUR STARS OF HELL
    Author: Critchell, Laurence
    Copyright:1947
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN:

  • LONGEST DAY, THE
    Author: Ryan, Cornelius
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Touchstone
    ISBN: 0-671-89155-3

  • ONE MORE HILL
    Author: Johnson, Franklyn
    Copyright:1949
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-26728-0
    The story of the 'Big Red One' in World War 2, from North Africa to Normandy.
  • OVERLORD: D DAY & THE BATTLE FOR NORMANDY
    Author: Hastings, Max
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Touchstone
    ISBN: 0-671-55435-2

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Europe: Fighting on the Eastern Front

Some people think that Russia could have defeated Nazi Germany without any help from the Western Allies. That's a drastic exaggeration, but it's no exaggeration to say that the Eastern Front involved much larger armies fighting over far greater areas than the Western Front did, and that the assault on Russia made the difference between Germany's victory and her total defeat.

  • 199 DAYS: THE BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD
    Author: Hoyt, Edwin P.
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Forge Books
    ISBN: 0-312-86853-7

  • FIGHTING IN HELL: The German Ordeal on the Eastern Front
    Author: Tsouras, Peter G. (Ed.)
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Ballantine/Ivy
    ISBN: 0-8041-1698-9

  • SECRET OF STALINGRAD, THE
    Author: Kerr, Walter
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-872-16569-8

  • TIGERS ARE BURNING, THE
    Author: Caidin, Martin
    Copyright:1974
    Publisher: Pinnacle
    ISBN: 0-523-41816-7
    The story of the Battle of Kursk, summer 1943.

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Europe: Personal Accounts and Combat Journals

"Personals" are what I call first-person accounts of military service -- usually combat, but sometimes other types of military service. These are personals from the European Theater of Operations.

  • BEYOND THE RHINE: A Screaming Eagle in Germany
    Author: Burgett, Donald R.
    Copyright:2001
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-23636-3

  • CURRAHEE! A Screaming Eagle at Normandy
    Author: Burgett, Donald R.
    Copyright:1967
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-23630-4

  • HERE IS YOUR WAR
    Author: Pyle, Ernie
    Copyright:1943
    Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
    ISBN:

  • ROAD TO ARNHEM, THE: A Screaming Eagle in Holland
    Author: Burgett, Donald
    Copyright:2001
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-23633-9

  • SEE HERE, PRIVATE HARGROVE
    Author: Hargrove, Marion
    Copyright:1942
    Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
    ISBN:

  • SEVEN ROADS TO HELL: A Screaming Eagle at Bastogne
    Author: Burgett, Donald R.
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-23627-4

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The Guadalcanal Campaign

The Guadalcanal Campaign is one of the most-written-about campaigns of the Pacific War, and justly so. Guadalcanal was a miserable place to have a war -- steaming hot, humid, riddled with tropical diseases, and almost impossible to keep properly supplied. For the Japanese it was impossible, and their troops eventually came to know Guadalcanal as "Starvation Island." The campaign lasted six months and featured many battles between the best troops and ships that both sides had to offer. When it was over, the Japanese advance had been ended forever, and the course of the rest of the war was firmly set.

  • BATTLE FOR GUADALCANAL, THE
    Author: Griffith, Samuel B.
    Copyright:1963
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-20472-6
    A detailed account of the Guadalcanal Campaign from initial strategy to final battle, based on both official records and personal recollection.
  • BLOODY RIDGE: The Battle that Saved Guadalcanal
    Author: Smith, Michael S.
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Pocket Books
    ISBN: 0-7434-6321-8

  • CAMPAIGN FOR GUADALCANAL, THE
    Author: Coggins, Jack
    Copyright:1974
    Publisher: Doubleday & Co.
    ISBN: 0-385-04354-6

  • CHALLENGE FOR THE PACIFIC: The Bloody Six-Month Battle of Guadalcanal
    Author: Leckie, Robert
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Da Capo Press
    ISBN: 0-306-80911-7

  • GUADALCANAL: STARVATION ISLAND
    Author: Hammel, Eric
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Pacifica Press
    ISBN: 0-935553-04-5

  • GUADALCANAL: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
    Author: Frank, Richard B.
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0-14-016561-4
    A long, detailed, thorough, extremely good account of all facets of the Battle of Guadalcanal, from initial strategy to the final offensive. Very, very good, although in some ways it lacks the immediacy of other books about the Guadalcanal Campaign.
  • GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE
    Author: Miller, John Jr.
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books
    ISBN: 1-56619-982-4

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Island-hopping in the Central Pacific

Though the Pacific War was fought over thousands of miles of ocean, "land warfare" is still the best category I can find for books that focus on land fighting, even island fighting. These books are about the Central Pacific campaign, featuring the United States Pacific Fleet and the Marine Corps taking a series of coral atolls and islands from ever stronger Japanese garrisons. Please note that I've arranged these books by time and campaign rather than alphabetically, because that seemed a more appropriate way to do it.

  • CRISIS IN THE PACIFIC
    Author: Astor, Gerald
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-23695-9

  • IWO JIMA
    Author: Newcomb, Richard F.
    Copyright:1965
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-22622-3

  • IWO JIMA: LEGACY OF VALOR
    Author: Ross, Bill
    Copyright:1986
    Publisher: Vintage Books
    ISBN: 0-394-74288-5

  • LIBERATION OF GUAM, THE
    Author: Gailey, Harry
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Presido Press
    ISBN: 0-89141-651-X

  • OPERATION ICEBERG
    Author: Astor, Gerald
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Dell
    ISBN: 0-440-22178-1

  • RAIDER BATTALION
    Author: Hoyt, Edwin
    Copyright:1980
    Publisher: Pinnacle
    ISBN: 0-523-40670-3

  • STORM OVER THE GILBERTS
    Author: Hoyt, Edwin
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Mason/Charter
    ISBN:
    Edwin Hoyt's description of the invasion of the Gilbert Islands in late 1943.
  • TO THE MARIANAS
    Author: Hoyt, Edwin P.
    Copyright:1980
    Publisher: Litton Educational
    ISBN:

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Jungle fighting in the Southwest Pacific

The Southwest Pacific campaign involved amphibious invasions of large islands where major army engagements were quite workable. This made it a sort of cross between European-style large-scale ground warfare and Central Pacific "island hopping" amphibious warfare. It was also some of the nastiest fighting of the entire Pacific war.

  • BATTLE FOR MANILA, THE
    Author: Connaughton, Pimlott, Anderson
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Presidio Press
    ISBN: 0-89141-771-0

  • MUNDA TRAIL
    Author: Hammel, Eric
    Copyright:1989
    Publisher: Avon
    ISBN: 0-380-71458-2

  • TOUCHED WITH FIRE: The Land War in the South Pacific
    Author: Bergerud, Eric
    Copyright:1996
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0-14-024696-7

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The Pacific: Personal Accounts and Combat Journal

These are personal accounts from the land wars against Japan.

  • AMERICAN GUERILLA IN THE PHILIPPINES
    Author: Wolfert, Ira
    Copyright:1945
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-13806-5

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