Alex Kershaw’s Reading List

Reach for the Sky
Paul Brickhill (1954)
“Still the best account of a truly remarkable man, Douglas Bader, who lost his legs and fought successfully to fly again, returning to the cockpit in time to lead others in combat during the Battle of Britain. It helps that it is written by my favorite narrative historian, Paul Brickhill, himself an RAF pilot and also the master storyteller behind The Dam Busters and The Great Escape. Brilliant and inspiring—popular history at its very finest.”

Anthony Beevor (1998)
“The epic and mesmerizing story of the pivotal battle. This is by far the best book by Beevor: beautifully structured, superbly researched, and always involving; the narrative glides along with the brio and elegance of a modern day Tolstoy. It will remain the definitive account for decades to come.”

The Longest Day
Cornelius Ryan (1959)
“A hugely accessible, brilliantly reported, and concise account of the most important 24 hours in history: D-Day. Ryan earned his stripes as a reporter and his mastery of his profession shows in every scene. A powerful antidote to the dry histories and jingoistic accounts that have marked recent anniversaries.”

The Last Days of Hitler
Hugh Trevor-Roper (1947)
“The ultimate insider’s account of the madness and mayhem in Hitler’s bunker as the war drew to a close. Not long after, Trevor-Roper interrogated many of the men and women who were there to witness the demise of the führer. A brilliant analysis of the Nazi court’s Wagnerian fall.”

Beyond War
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1962)
“It changed my view of history and humanity, and it taught me how powerful true-to-life fiction can be when I first read it as a naïve teenager at the height of the Cold War. I read it again recently and was bowled over yet again. The greatest novel to come out of the gulag, the Soviet Union, and, in my opinion, the last century.”

Alex Kershaw is the author of the acclaimed World War II histories The Few, The Longest Winter, The Bedford Boys, and Escape from the Deep. His latest book, The Envoy, about Raoul Wallenberg’s rescue of thousands of Jews, was published in 2010 by Da Capo Press.

One Response

  1. Joanne Emerick

    I am the historian of the 31st Bomb Squadron (H), an Army Air Corps unit that flew B-17s and B-24s in WWII in the Pacific Theater. The Squadron was present at Hickam Field, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941, flew in the Battle of Midway, and island hopped from Guadalcanal in the Solomons through the South Pacific to Samar Island in the Philippines. Following WWII, the Squadron came back to the Mainland. As part of the 5th Bomb Group (H), the 31st Squadron won two Presidential Unit Citations. My late father was a medical corpsman with the 31st.

    During the past year, I have published the 421-page history of the 31st during WWII. Packed with maps and original photographs, the book tells the WWII air war story through the eyes of the young men who flew its big bombers. The book takes the reader on an emotional journey because it is written solely in the words of the men who fought the war.

    Would you consider accepting a complimentary copy from me and if you like the book, do a review in WWII Magazine?

    You can read excerpts and learn more about the 31st Bomb Squadron and me, Joanne Emerick, at our website:

    Thank you!

    Joanne Emerick
    P. O. Box 254
    Hoxie, KS 67740 785.675.3088


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.