Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Hitlerland: American Eyewitness to the Nazi Rise to Power

Book Review: Hitlerland: American Eyewitness to the Nazi Rise to Power

Simon & Schuster’s Hitlerland: American Eyewitness to the Nazi Rise to Power

☆☆☆☆☆ Highly recommended

Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland: American Eyewitness to the Nazi Rise to Power fills a void for American journalistic perspective on Hitler’s Germany in the 1920s and ‘30s. Readers will recognize names such as William Shirer, Howard K. Smith, Richard Helms, and others whose roles as journalists, correspondents, and diplomats placed them in the heart of Berlin, Germany in the years following the First World War. Nagorski writes: “They served as America’s eyes and ears in Germany, and they helped produce the proverbial first draft of history. Like all first drafts, it isn’t always on the mark, but it offers highly unusual, very personal perspectives on Hitler’s rise and Germany’s march to the abyss.” He concludes: “… the Americans in Germany gradually eroded isolationist sentiments and prepared their countrymen psychologically for the years of bloodshed and struggle ahead. This was the real contribution of the Americans in Hitler’s Germany”[1]

Nagorski effectively weaves these American voices into historical context which we know escalated into the Holocaust and Hitler’s failed military leadership. Vivid narrative from this American contingent of writers shows us up close the infamous Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 through the 1933 elections to the 1936 Olympics to early victories on the Eastern Front. And myriad events in between.

The author’s collection and synthesis of eyewitness accounts as events unfolded in Berlin without the ‘rearview mirror’ of historical perspective and narrative makes Hitlerland an important work. This book will appeal to those fascinated with pre-war Berlin as well as scholars of Adolf Hitler and his early-war conquests before 1942. Nagorski’s Hitlerland is one book you’ll keep in your personal library for subsequent reference and re-reading.

[1] Andrew Nagorski, Hitlerland: American Eyewitness to the Nazi Rise to Power. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013) p. 327.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Book Reviews, WWII Germany


Book Review: Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II

Book cover

Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II by John Fredrickson.

Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II
By John Fredrickson

☆☆☆☆☆ Recommended

John Frederickson has written an extraordinary new book on North American Aviation, one of the aircraft manufacturers whose aircraft filled the skies across the Pacific, European, and China-Burma-India theaters. Warbird Factory: North American Aviation in World War II is supplemented by a collection of black-and-white and color photographs of North American Aviation’s factories, aircraft, and the people who built them. It is these photographs which supplement the author’s prose that showcase this home front history during wartime. The home front ‘comes alive’ in Warbird Factory. Frederickson’s 36-year career as a manager for Boeing enabled his access to photographs, company records, and history of North American Aviation (NAA).

Warbird Factory is far more than just another of book of airplane pictures, technical specifications, and diagrams however. What makes this new work unique and engrossing is the author’s research and writing of the company’s history which occurred before, during and after the war. He effectively retraces NAA’s origins to the automobile industry and General Motors Corporation (GM). As such, we now have previously unpublished history which details the ‘business side’ of the industry overall and rise of NAA before the war. I personally find the synergies which took place between the automobile industry and the fledgling airline industry of the 1920’s and 1930’s fascinating. I think you will too.

North American Aviation plant in Inglewood California. Courtesy of Wikipedia; This photo is in the public domain.

From the public domain: North American Aviation plant in Inglewood California.

The primary aircraft of NAA in Warbird Factory are the B-25 Mitchell bomber and P-51 Mustang escort fighter. (NAA also designed and developed trainers—smaller aircraft utilized for training new pilots.) Scholars and students of the 1944 invasion of Normandy—D-Day—will be fascinated with Chapter 10’s “Eisenhower’s B-25.” NAA took a stock (brand new) B-25J and made modifications for an aircraft that could blend with most other B-25 Mitchell Bombers—with one exception. RB-25J(3), later designated VB-25J, was General Dwight Eisenhower’s personal aircraft to move him throughout France following the 6 June invasion and for one year thereafter. The Ellsworth Air Force Base Museum (South Dakota) is the final resting place for Eisenhower’s B-25J.

I could continue sharing more on Frederickson’s new contribution work but will conclude here. Check out this new book and discover the new history. Warbird Factory will have special appeal for historians and scholars of women’s roles on the home front. Those interested in the early years of the American automobile industry will also find this new book absorbing for its position and support to the aviation industry.

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Book Reviews, The Home Front

%d bloggers like this: