Best Little Stories from World War II, 2E: More than 100 true stories

Best Little Stories from World War II, 2E: More than 100 true stories

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by C. Brian Kelly
     
 

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BEHIND THE GREAT POWERS , global military conflict, and infamous battles are more than 100 incredible stories that bring to life the Second World War. During the six years of war were countless little-known moments of profound triumph and tragedy, bravery and cowardice, and good and evil.

These amazing and unbelievable stories of brotherhood, redemption, escape,

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Overview

BEHIND THE GREAT POWERS , global military conflict, and infamous battles are more than 100 incredible stories that bring to life the Second World War. During the six years of war were countless little-known moments of profound triumph and tragedy, bravery and cowardice, and good and evil.

These amazing and unbelievable stories of brotherhood, redemption, escape, and civilian courage shed new light on the war that gripped the entire world. Experience the action through the eyes of people like:

Lieutenant Jacob Beser, who was aboard both the Enola Gay and Bock's Car and felt the force of the shockwave that nearly destroyed the planes after dropping the H-bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Professor William Miller, who collapsed during a death march of POWs in Germany and was saved by the same man who had rescued him from what would have been a fatal car wreck in Pennsylvania five years earlier.

The brave civilians who answered the British Admiralty's call to help rescue an army from Dunkirk during the height of a dangerous battle and sailed small fishing boats into relentless German fire, ultimately saving 335,000 men from

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402243578
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
11/01/2010
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
267,528
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
Many among us today have forgotten. Too many simply don't know...don't really understand.
It may be a cliché to say so, but truly, World War II produced a million and one heroes. Beyond such figurative language, of course, it was a searing experience for millions upon millions of people, worldwide. It produced statistics on such gross and massive scale that they lose their humanity. They become mere numbers-20,000,000 Russians killed; 6,000,000 Holocaust victims; 326,166 Americans among the millions of Allied and Axis military personnel killed. The horrific figures roll off the tongue, pass by the eye, all too easily. How often do we visualize the people, real people, they represent? Each of the dead, each of the living caught up in the global storm-man, woman, or child-had his or her own place in this cataclysmic event we call World War II.

Many among us today have forgotten. Too many simply don't know...don't really understand.

Whether soldier or civilian, victor, villain, or victim, nobody who was there will ever forget it. For many-let's be honest about it now-it was the most exciting, the most gratifying thing that happened in their entire lives. But for so many more others, the most tragic. For millions, it was the end of life itself. For millions of others, it brought a change in lifestyle, outlook, occupation or location never to be undone. In this country for one, life simply would not be as before. The farm boy had seen the world. The women had zeroed in on their equality. Racial segregation was on its way out, albeit not there yet. The mobile society had arrived. Technology had triumphed.
Good had conquered evil...for the time being.

But at what cost! Far more, worldwide, than the twenty million, more than the other six million, far more than those two figures added together, but instead a total, both soldier and civilian, by any measure unprecedented in world history, a number now calculated at fifty or sixty million, but even then totally inadequate as an expression of the toll in pure human misery.

Among the changes, though, the once-isolationist, Depression-stricken United States of America suddenly had become the ranking world power. A savior to the civilized world from modern barbarism too!

It is amazing to look back now, going on a century later...and to remember how different we were. Among military men, majors and colonels in their twenties! Teenagers flying fighter planes against fellow young people on the opposing side. Innocent civilians of all ages, all sides, both genders, under the gun, the bomb, the artillery barrage.

As a kid, lucky for me, but wide-eyed with wonder anyway, my closest brush with it all was looking out to sea from Palm Beach, Florida, and seeing the sudden, lightninglike blink of distant naval guns or torpedo hits just off the coast. Or finding the oil-covered debris on the beach a day or so later. In New England a year later, alternatively, it was collecting for the scrapmetal drives or gather­ing milkweed pods for the life jackets our sailors and merchantmen needed to survive even more torpedo hits somewhere out there in a still-teetering world.

Later, not quite at war's end, I began to peck out newspaper stories from the front on my mother's typewriter, recopying the news of the war.

One April afternoon, I went to the movies. I came out to unusually quiet, subdued streets. It was FDR...dead. FDR, president since 1933...because I was born after that, he was the only president I had ever known. Then, more happily, just weeks later, came V-E Day, followed in late summer by V-J Day!

Suddenly, it was all over. Life moved on. For the still-living, that is. Home folk and veterans picked up their pieces and went their many ways.

But...what a generation! Just consider: among the veterans, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush...each of whom became president of the United States. And so many others who contributed to society in myriad ways...and more who led quiet, more mundane lives.

In time, I became a newspaper reporter. And later than that, editor of World War II and Military History magazines.

Vicariously speaking, the war wasn't behind me after all. In my magazine role, not too surprisingly, I kept running into amazing, moving, LITTLE stories from World War II. Odd things, terrible things, brave things that happened to people in the war, people great and "small."

In 1989, rather than see these stories simply disappear, I thought: Why not gather them all together between two covers as a more lasting record, as a book? My mother, Claire Burke, my future wife (and collaborator on future books) Ingrid Smyer, and I took a chance on that dream. We self-published the first edition of Best Little Stories from World War II, a collection of 101 short narratives based upon a variety of sources.

Imagine our gratification as our "little" book, just over two hundred pages, kept selling...and selling! First thing we knew, we had gone through eight editions and sold more than thirty-five thousand copies!

All the time, though, I kept finding more and more stories I wanted to add to the original, many of them additional pieces I had written for the two maga­zines, often as Best Little Stories columnist (and editor emeritus) for Military History alone.

At this stage, I owe the Cowles History Group in Leesburg, Virginia, former publisher of World War II and Military History magazines, a vote of thanks for later allowing fresh publication between these covers of my additional stories that first appeared in one magazine or the other. Both the new stories and the old ones are part of this new, greatly expanded version of Best Little Stories from World War II, now consisting of more than 160 stories and a biographical sketch of Eleanor Roosevelt by my wife and fellow author, Ingrid Smyer.

Just as important, we owe another vote of thanks to Ron Pitkin, president of Cumberland House Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee, (now an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc: Naperville, Illinois), for agreeing back in 1998 to publish my World War II book in its expanded form.

At this stage, too, as I review, edit, and ponder the stories before me...as I think back to those days of Palm Beach hotels populated by Army Air Corps trainees, rather than tourists, of those nighttime explosions out to sea, one thought keeps coming back to me, back to me again and again...that what this book effort amounts to, in my own small but thankful way, is tribute to a passing generation...to those often-incredible men and women who either fought or endured, sometimes both, through that terrible conflict we call World War II.

Don't we all...still owe them all?
***
Charlottesville, Virginia
C. Brian Kelly
January 1998
and summer 2010

Meet the Author

C. Brian Kelly, a prize-winning journalist, is cofounder of Montpelier Publishing and a columnist and editor emeritus for Military History magazine. He is also a lecturer in news writing at the University of Virginia. Kelly's articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Friends, Yankee, Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, and other magazines. He is the author of several books on American history and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Best Little Stories from World War II, 2E: More than 100 true stories 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Realistic and moving stories of believable characters who faced the aftermath of WWII.....I highly recommend this book to anyone who is smitten with WWII stories. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
sunnysamNV More than 1 year ago
inspiring you will truly understand what or troops went through.best compilation I have ever read on WW ll
Bea57 More than 1 year ago
Still reading it but have been blown away with some of the stories. A few are a bit ho hum, but some are simply fantastic. Am enjoying it very much